Beginner chicken mom questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by naschwartz614, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. naschwartz614

    naschwartz614 Just Hatched

    Sep 14, 2016
    Hey everyone, I have 11 chickens (I had 12 but a hawk got one when they were smaller). My first question is when will they be big enough that I don't have to worry about the hawk and can let them free run? They are escape artists now and can get out of their pen somehow but can't get back in. Second, once they're bug enough to have the gate open, will they stay fairly close to their home? And third, I'm attaching a picture, 6 of my chickens are orange, 4 are black and white and then there's this one. Does anyone know off the top of their head the breed? I'm curious to know. Thanks everyone! [​IMG]
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Im not a breeds expert so I won't attempt a guess. In terms of the hawk...I don't there is a a time when they are totally safe from hawk attack. Hawks have been known to attack and easily kill even large breed chickens. That's part of the cost-benefit of free ranging birds.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Willie Pauline

    Willie Pauline New Egg

    Nov 3, 2016
    They will never be too big for a hawk.... Better fix your fence or provide a good cover spot.
  4. naschwartz614

    naschwartz614 Just Hatched

    Sep 14, 2016
    So they will never be able to roam freely?
  5. GingersHuman

    GingersHuman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 23, 2016
    Not without risk of loss.
  6. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    Do you know what breed of hawks are prevalent in your area? Nothing about livestock is 199% certain. After I lost pretty many of an all hen RIR flock I did a lot of reading and research and a few things stood out. Larger breeds when adults are less likely to be hawk fodder, breeds such as Jersey Giants, or orpingtons. Roosters definitely help as they seem to be the ones who give the early warning to allow the hens to take cover.If your hens are free ranging, they need places to hide, bushes, evergreens, a deck, etc.
    Since the RIR problems, I've had hawk attacks on smaller or younger birds but thankfully no successes.
    Just this past week I heard the rooster's warning call and ran out to find the hens racing for cover, under the lilac bush, under the azaleas, or into their covered runs. A hawk swooped up and away. I stood watching him land on a tree and go behind the trunk and the next minute he was on the roof of the run. I scared him away and went to close the gate, taking the one rooster with me to cox in a hen who had gotten outside. I closed the gate and the hawk made a third swoop. Then flew away. I brought one of the dogs out but the chickens stayed under cover for most of the afternoon. I haven't seen the hawk since so figure he might well be a bird migrating through and not a resident hawk.
    If you can provide an activity around your house, dogs in and out, that can help too. If you're on a migration path this can be a time of the year when you have to be more careful. Good luck.
  7. naschwartz614

    naschwartz614 Just Hatched

    Sep 14, 2016
    I guess I'll just let them have supervised play time. I think I have 2 roosters but I'm not quite sure yet.
  8. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Even better than a rooster to watch over them would be to provide cover for the chickens to run under when they spot a hawk overhead.

    If you have a lot of trees and shrubs, chickens will run under them when danger approaches from above. In areas where there is a lot of wide open flat ground, you can create cover by erecting small ramadas. These look like tables, just a flat roof on two foot high legs. It's nearly impossible for a hawk to nab a chicken when they get under something like that, and your chickens will instinctively use them.

    I have a lot of hawks. But I also cultivate the crows and ravens by catching rodents in traps around my house and coop. By tossing these rodents out for the crows and ravens, they stay in the area and discourage the hawks, decreasing the danger to my flock. Occasionally there's a hawk attack, sometimes right in front of me, but the hawk comes up empty most of the time. I've lost one chicken in nine years to a hawk.

    So, go ahead and free range your chickens. Just do what you can to increase the odds in favor of your chickens surviving an attack.
    1 person likes this.
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I do not wish any hard luck on Azygous, but I have very heavy cover, and frequently have lost to hawks. A rooster, ( a good, more than a year old, alert rooster) has always reduced (but not eliminate) my daytime predation. A young cockerel is really not much protection. You need an older bird.

    Mrs K
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I also have plenty of cover, and have lost full grown hens to hawks that were smaller than the hens. In my yard, the losses have been away from the house, out of sight of normal human activity, behind the garden, in an area that is about 30' from cover. If my birds wander onto the back lawn, and they do (b/c the insects are plentiful there) they are at greater risk. IMO, if you free range, predator loss is a given. It's good to have a nice big covered run so you can pen them up when predators are obviously on the prowl. Some days, within a 10 minute time frame, I've had 3 hawks of one species, followed closely by 2 of an other swooping my yard. This time of year, I have to take the netting down over my run due to snow, so my birds are at even more risk. I have to leave the run open, and let them range, b/c if I try to shut them in, they will fly over the 6' fence, and aren't bright enough to go back over it to get back in.

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