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Can a hawk carry off a 4lb hen?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mama24, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. mama24

    mama24 Songster

    Mar 7, 2010
    GSO, NC
    We had problems with hawks late fall, but nothing since then. I let me chickens out completely free range, so I expect to lose a few. I have been getting more "flighty" breeds, and they seem to do really well looking out for and avoiding predators. This week, though, we lost one of my dh and kids' favorite hens, a salmon Faverolles. She was very small, though, only about 4 lbs, maybe a little less. She was in the bantam bin, but ended up somewhere between bantam and standard size. Honestly, I am not very uspet about her. We've had someone pecking eggs the last month or so, and I caught her in the act last week. We had at least 4 eggs a day get pecked. Since she disappeared, we've had none. She was going to disappear soon anyway, and I am sort of relieved I didn't have to do it since my dh and kids loved her so much. We also lost a little Pekin duckling and a 3 month old mixed breed pullet. All in the last week. Absolutely no sign of anything. We have a puppy, 3 mos old, and our goats seem to be keeping the coons and possums away. I think if the puppy had done it, there would be bodies strewn about. She chases everything, but I have never seen her hurt any. I'm working on her, but she's only 3 mos old.

    I did find a spot under a large oak that had a lot of feathers under it. It's hard to tell if they landed there or the wind blew them there, it's been very windy. Sound like a hawk? Or are the smaller predators not as afraid of my goats as I've been assuming? We also have a lot of stray cats around. I doubt one of those could have taken my 4lb hen, but they certainly could be to blame for the 3 mo old bantam pullet and the 3 week old duckling. I sort of suspect hawk for all 3 though. We have a whole family of redtails that nests in a neighbor's yard.

  2. Nickichicki

    Nickichicki In the Brooder

    Apr 16, 2012
    Isanti Minnesota
    My guess is that it was indeed a hawk. You'd be surprised what they can carry away when they're hungry!
  3. isis

    isis In the Brooder

    May 5, 2010
    When I was younger, I remember a redtail hawk trying to carry off one of my cats! It fully picked the cat off the ground but kitty turned and attacked and it dropped it... the cat was from 7-8 lbs so I'm sure a small chicken would be nothing.
  4. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    The largest hawk in this country weighs less than 3 pounds. It might be able to pick a small chicken up a few inches off the ground and move it a few feet, but it certainly is not going to carry it off over the horizon. Rule of thumb is that a hawk can carry about 25% of its own body weight.

    Since that would be less than a pound, it would have to be a very small chicken.

    If you have a 3 month old puppy who likes to play with everything and you appear to not be supervising the puppy full time, I think your puppy is number 1 suspect.

    Cats are capable of killing chickens and some cats do. Especially hungry feral or abandoned cats. Your goats are not scaring coyotes, stray dogs, or foxes. I doubt that they are scaring large raccoons. They certainly are not scaring bobcats. The goats probably don't even notice weasels or large rats.

    Any number of critters will kill chickens and don't forget that humans will steal chickens. If you allow your chickens to free range, something is going to eat them. If you don't mind the loses, that's your choice, but when free range chickens are killed, there is no one to blame but yourself.
  5. mama24

    mama24 Songster

    Mar 7, 2010
    GSO, NC
    It was a fox. My kids saw it in the pen this morning. Chickens were still locked up for the night. But if it is coming during the day, then that is where our missing chickens went. They said the goats were all 3 standing up on the milking stand (2 mamas, 1 baby.) I am surprised b/c they will chase dogs away. Apparently they are more afraid of a fox than a dog and know the difference. Since the chickens spend a lot of time in the goat pen, the fox was def there for chicken, just too early in the day. :( I think I'm going to spend some time down there with a gun. If it is getting into the goat pen and my chickens can get in there, there is not much else I can do. The pen is way too big to chicken proof. The neighbors had told me about the fox last fall, said it had killed small pets in the past, but this is the first sign of it I've seen.

    My puppy is not outside totally unsupervised. But she does run around while I am feeding and watering, so there are times when I am out there with her but not watching her. If she were killing my chickens, I would certainly hear something and see some evidence. She's a herder, so she does a LOT of chasing, but I've never seen her bite a chicken other than nipping at its tail. They run from her, but they don't even make alarm calls, so they aren't all that afraid of her.
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I've seen a juvenile Goshawk eating a rabbit in a tree. That's a 16 to 18 inch tall bird as juvenile that carried a 3 pound rabbit.
  7. jmc

    jmc Songster

    Jul 22, 2008
    South Central MA
    Then there was the great horned owl that carried a 12 pound cat which was sleeping/resting on a fence top up into a tree and killed and chowed there.........in the sight of at least four people, including the cats owners, who knew the weight of that huge cat..............

  8. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

    Apr 7, 2011
    Western NY
    My Coop
    I wrote this in response to a very similar thread. I see that you've discovered that a fox took your birds-- I was going to say, not many raptors can carry away an adult chicken!

  9. mama24

    mama24 Songster

    Mar 7, 2010
    GSO, NC

    My friend was here late. her son came back into the house when they were leaving for something he forgot and left the door wide open when he left. I thought I heard her go out when he left and she didn't come when I call her, so I knew something was up. [​IMG] [​IMG] The look on her face is priceless. "I'm sorry, mommy! Don't be mad!"
  10. Suzierd

    Suzierd Crowing

    Aug 8, 2011
    Awww what a pretty girl, must have been something yummy in there.

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