Best guard bird for chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Cheesay, Jul 24, 2016.

  1. Cheesay

    Cheesay Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all, I'm thinking about getting a guard bird or two for my hens. Everything was going great. I decided to let the girls out earlier than normal to forage. I was home the whole day, but something managed to get all 3 without any trace. I don't want chickens if I'm just going to keep them penned up all the time. I want to let them forage some, but I'm tired of getting in a safe routine and then losing them. I figured it was a hawk at first, but I just don't know at this point. My dog is out there, but if the chickens wander out of sight, he's pretty useless as he doesn't follow them around.

    I've read about people using guinea fowl, geese or roosters to help warn the hens or even protect them, but I guess I just don't know how much more care is involved and what would work better for my case. I've had guinea fowl before, not while I had hens though. I'm guessing they only alert to danger and don't do much as far as scaring off. They were pretty easy to manage. The rooster I had was useless, scared of his own shadow.

    Then there's geese. I've never had geese before. Never had an ambition to have one. But I keep reading about how great they are for protecting your flock. I just don't know how well they do and how much care they need. Do they need a pond or pool of water? Do they stay with the chickens in the coop? I only have a small coop that could maybe fit 6 hens max. Are there small geese that work just as hard? All the geese I've seen are pretty big. Does it matter to have a male or a female? Breeds?

    Any opinions are greatly appreciated. I live in Illinois, so the only chicken predators that are much of a threat at this point are coyotes, foxes and hawks.
     
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    I don't have a lot of experience with guard birds but I got guineas for the first time this year. They let out quite a loud ruckus whenever anything is amiss. Rarely is there ever an issue that needs my attention...often times one of the guineas got separated from the others and made a racket that made you think it was bing eaten alive...but on a couple occasions there was a large stray cat wandering through the yard and another time a hawk perched in a nearby tree and they set up a squawk. So...based on that limited sample size, guineas work for me as an effective alarm system. Good luck to you!
     
  3. Shawn14858

    Shawn14858 Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm intrested in this as well.
     
  4. Pyxis

    Pyxis Dark Sider Premium Member

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    I have roosters, guineas and geese with my chickens, so I can help you out. Guineas do alert to danger and they're pretty good at that - and the hens learn to listen to their warnings and run for cover. They can go off at random things like redsoxs says but if you don't mind popping out each time to see what they're yelling about they might work for you.

    Geese are better about alarming only when they see predators. I keep a flock of Roman Tufted geese, the smallest domestic breed derived from the grey lag. They can live in a coop with chickens but you must have enough space. They also greatly benefit from access to fresh grass so that should be provided to them. They do need at least enough water to fully submerge their heads in but would much appreciate at least a small kiddie pool to swim in. They don't, however, fight off predators or anything like that. They will alert so you can come out and see off the threat and so the hens can run for cover but that's the extent of it. Ganders can get aggressive during breeding season if they're trying to protect a nest etc so to be on the safe side a pair of females might work best for you if you don't want to breed.

    A good rooster will alert the hens to danger but not loud enough that you will be able to hear it and intervene usually. A really good rooster will run to confront the threat while the hens take cover and will even give his own life for his flock.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I use a combination of roosters, dogs and fencing. Roosters good against hawks assuming adult with proper cover. Warning function of chickens gets dog into action quickly. Fencing in the forms of high tensile wire and electrified poultry netting provide at least partial refuge for chickens and make dog's job of locating and potentially corralling predator easier.
     
  6. JimsOhioAngel

    JimsOhioAngel Just Hatched

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    This thread is very useful and needed. Hopefully there will be more posters adding to it.
     

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