Buzzard took one of my free range hens. What should I do?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by spicywing, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. spicywing

    spicywing Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 10, 2011
    Hey guys,

    This is my first post as I am new to keeping hens and already having predator problems. [​IMG]
    I've had my 3 hens, one cockerel for only 6 weeks and decided to free range them as the coop is small, and we live next to some nice woodland with no traffic nor neighbours.
    Chicken paradise, or so I thought.
    So every morning I let them out and watch them with joy as they do their own thing and scratch around, doing what chickens do.
    I thought I was doing a good thing letting the chickens go anywhere without boundaries.

    One hen was missing the other day after the headcount at night so I looked the next day and found it dead next to the woods, looking like the victim of a bird attack.
    The next day there were two buzzards hanging around which confirmed my verdict.

    Now I am not sure what to do as I am pretty sure they will attack again. The coop is much too small to keep them in all the time and building a small run, although an option,
    was not my idea of keeping chickens.
    On the other hand, It's also not too clever either losing one every few weeks.

    What would you suggest from experience?
    Will I have to keep them in and build a run?
    Are there methods for keeping birds of prey away?

    Thanks for any suggestions.
  2. ninabeast

    ninabeast Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2011
    Upstate New York
    I would question your conclusion. I do NOT have a lot of experience, but my research told me that buzzards are not equipped to kill, but to scavenge. it sounds like something else killed your girl, and the buzzards are just the clean up crew.

    Which doesn't answer your question, but there are plenty of threads on the forum about hawks, and I'll bet that's what you're dealing with...
  3. spicywing

    spicywing Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 10, 2011
    Sorry, should have said that I am in Europe. I believe our buzzard is known as a hawk to you guys over the water.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  4. UncleTommy

    UncleTommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2011
    Sanger, CA
    a hawk would only leave feathers, i'm with nina, sounds like something else killed it. What kind of injuries did it have?
  5. spicywing

    spicywing Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 10, 2011
    I am pretty certain is was a buzzard (European buzzard):
    I have seen them hanging around since the attack, probably looking for the others.
    I found the hen two feet from a pile of its feathers, missing most of its breast down to the insides. It definitely looked like it had been pecked at cleanly.
    The only other predators round here are foxes and possibly stoats and weasels.
    It was a daytime attack while the chickens were out.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  6. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    I don't know about European foxes or shoats(weasels here) but both are active predators in the day here. I've had foxes ambush my free ranging birds during the day.
  7. remuda1

    remuda1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 12, 2011
    Granbury, Texas
    It sounds to me like the OP knows what took the bird. Unfortunately, there's not a lot to be done other than keep the chickens locked up until you get a run built. I agree that the hawks are hanging around waiting for another chicken dinner. Having a run doesn't mean you have to keep them confined 24/7. But it would sure come in handy right now rather than locking them into a small coop. Once the hawks move on, you could turn them out of the run again. I just make it a practice to regularly scan the sky and check out the known hawk roosts frequently at my place. If they are about, the chickens may have to stay in the run that day. I do realize that by free ranging I'm taking a chance.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Quote:Confinement to a covered is the short-term option.

    I use dogs as a buzzard / hawk deterrant. An adult rooster can sometimes be helpful but there are breed, season and social effects that must be considered.

    Which buzzard species is involved?
  9. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    We have turkey vultures.They can smell a rotting squirrel from miles away and will fly over our yard all day long freaking out the chickens. I have never had them attack,but they do swoop down.Lol, like they are playing with the chickens by causing a mass panic.

    Could set up some bird netting over areas the chickens hide under. Tangles up a bird quite well.
  10. spicywing

    spicywing Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 10, 2011
    Hey guys,

    I just want to add that my solution has been to build a run for my hens and only let them free range when someone is at home.
    Buzzards (the common European kind) get used to routines and know when to strike so I believe that releasing them on a more irregular basis also helps.

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