big swooping bird took a baby!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by smom1976, May 16, 2008.

  1. smom1976

    smom1976 too many projects too little time!

    May 2, 2008
    Pensacola, FL
    So when the chicks were a few days old I built a play pen out of plywood.. they were all having a great time pecking at weeds and such when my husband heard the dog freaking out.. chasing something to the back of the yard and it had taken my black polish baby .. [​IMG] I havent let them in the yard since but now they are rapidly outgrowing their baby pool and I need to put them in their new pen.. it will have a cover.. .. but ... I desperatly want to let them out into the yard and let them eat bugs and such.. (when they get bigger) but will that same big bird come down and eat my adult chickens? how do people with free range birds handle flying preditors???
     
  2. Bi0sC0mp

    Bi0sC0mp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 21, 2008
    Raiford,FLA
    it most likely was a hawk..and yes it will take adult chickens also...i dont free range cause free range = death for a chicken.. just how i fell about it..
     
  3. smom1976

    smom1976 too many projects too little time!

    May 2, 2008
    Pensacola, FL
    I was reading in another post that ginnies? will let you know when something is wrong? does anyone know about this?
     
  4. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    "Free range" is a misused concept, often enough. Our chickens are descended from jungle fowl, not open plains birds. "Free range" for them is a secluded glen amid the forest, not an expanse of bare dirt or grass.

    Try giving your birds hidey holes instead of just blue sky overhead. They need cover to feel secure and to be protected from air assault.

    So put brush pile "tepees," shrubs and add other makeshift shelters on their "range" to nick into when the hawk looms overhead. Keep their day feed and water nearby these shelters, too, so they dont have to go far to get to it.

    The chickens will keep an eye out for hawks and other threats. That's one of the cocks jobs, in fact, and a good reason to have them if you can. At the first sign of trouble, they'll head for shelter.
    That's what mine have always done. Give it a try!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2008
  5. smom1976

    smom1976 too many projects too little time!

    May 2, 2008
    Pensacola, FL
    when they are free ranging? Wouldnt I want to keep the waterer in their pen to encourage them to come back to their pen? I can put stuff out in the yard for them to duck into.. ..
     
  6. DoDa

    DoDa Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 3, 2008
    Portage, WI
    We free range our laying hens (and roo). Knock on wood, thus far we've only lost one to predator. There was a coyote coming around too close to the house last summer and we think it was him. There is tons of brush and trees around our house and henhouse and the birds tend to hang out in the covered areas. We see hawks cruising above and swooping down on the field a little way from the house, but they don't seem to come down into the small clearing around the house. The birds keep an eye out. We know when something is overhead because of all the strange sounds, or squawking, that come from the birds. They rush to trees or brush, or absolutely freeze, like a rock, until the danger is passed.
     
  7. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Leesville, SC
    Lets use the term "forage," as opposed to 'free range', shall we? It is a better description of what we're after.

    SO, if you're going to have your birds forage, well... they can't do it in the pen they have torn up and denuded. Which they will, you'll see. No, to forage, they need to be out and about. Two or three hours per day, is enough, after they've had a chance to lay their eggs in their nests. Think of these foraging times as "recess" or "playtime" for them, if that helps.

    I suggest you quarter off your yard into paddocks, like a pie cut in 4 pieces, with the coop/pen at the center.
    Then place a food and water "station" as a focal point, out in each paddock where you want them to be for that foraging period. They won't stray too far from it, especially if you have also put the shelters out there, too. What DoDa has said about it tells it pretty well. Rotate the paddocks periodically.

    Then, only feed them in the pen/coop before dusk and in the AM before you let them out. As bioscomp has noted, our idea of 'free ranging' can actually do more harm than good. Chickens do better when they are controlled, as opposed to being treated as "free spirits."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2008
  8. smom1976

    smom1976 too many projects too little time!

    May 2, 2008
    Pensacola, FL
    recess is good.. I like that visual..

    but The pen in the yard is not really an option.. we only live on .25 acre and the house takes up a portion of that. The whole back yard is only about 75 x 50 so the coop is 17x12 and the rest has a playhouse/swing for the kids a little walmart pond/garden/sitting area and a trampoline.. not too much more room for another chicken run.. but if I let them out in the morning when the kids go to school or in the afternoon when they get home from school.. (they would love to let them out) how would I keep the hawk from the chickens? I do have a dog and some days she just lays there and watches the chicks like she is guarding them. this is actually most days.. but then there are times I think she sees them as moving play toys.. so I am not totally sure she will protect them KWIM>..
     
  9. pixiechic

    pixiechic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Short of covering your entire yard, I don't think you can protect your chickens from hawks 100%. Is your back yard completely fenced in? If there is other stuff in the yard (trampoline, play set, patio furniture), they may be able to hide under that when they feel threatened.

    Also - do not leave your dog alone with unfenced chickens, even for a minute, until you have actively trained it not to go after your birds.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2008
  10. skennedy

    skennedy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 17, 2008
    Denham Springs, LA
    QUOTE: but The pen in the yard is not really an option.. we only live on .25 acre and the house takes up a portion of that. The whole back yard is only about 75 x 50 so the coop is 17x12 and the rest has a playhouse/swing for the kids a little walmart pond/garden/sitting area and a trampoline.. not too much more room for another chicken run


    This is why I have mine in a chicken tractor. Protected and always have fresh new grass and bugs to eat!
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2008

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