Chickens with PTSD after hawk attack?


8 Years
Aug 24, 2011
We started our chicken operation about 3 weeks ago and in that time, we've lost one cockerel to a horrific accident involving our five year old (should we add children to the list of predators?) and then yesterday, the replacement cockerel got annhilated by a hawk. The chickens who evidently witnessed the hawk attack would NOT leave the roost bar in the henhouse today at all. We ended up relocating water and food into the henhouse but they panic when we try to get them to even poke their heads out into the fully enclosed run. I'm concerned, to say the least, and have no idea what to expect with chicken behavior after an attack. It was a HUGE hawk and the damage to the buff orp male was something I had never experienced before. I'm starting to think we may be more successful at having a chicken graveyard than a working laying operation.

Does anyone use or recommend using fishing line/monofilament across the top of the open "ranging area" to prevent hawk attacks? What about aviary netting? We'd love to let them free range but now - #1: we can't them to even come out into the caged area of the coop and #2: the hawk is still around.

Thanks for your help!
I wouldn't use fishing line - the hawk may not see it.
Nearly any kind of netting over the top of the run should discourage hawks, as long as it is visible from above.
I'm suprised the other chickens are still affraid to come out of the coop. Give them some time and they should come around.
Thank you for the tip on the netting. I think we may go with a smaller free ranging area with netting over top since the hawk seems to think there may still be a chance at a meal.

In regards to the lack of roosters, would it be advisable for us to replace the missing cockerling? Replace it with another cockerling or should we just go full grown male? My girls are pullets, not even laying yet.

Thanks again!
I've had both with and without roosters and it really doesn't make any difference. It can take a couple of days after an attack before the chickens are back to their usual selves. Chickens have pretty short memories though.

Growing up, my grandmother kept a big boxer bulldog on her property. She lost chickens to him on a regular basis. He was never free-ranging; they would just walk right up to him and SQUISH! no more chicken. You would think that they would learn, but no.

If you want to keep the large area, just give them plenty of hiding spots in case another hawk comes back.

ETA: one thing I've always seen people do is make it WORSE by freaking out themselves. Instead of leaving the birds alone in their coop and letting them wander out in their own time, the person will try to chase them out. Mess with them. Basically, take an already frightened bird and freak them out even more. Just leave them alone. I wouldn't have even moved their water. They'll come out in their own time.
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I've lost birds to foxes and hawks. My birds are freaked out for a few days after attacks. The hawk got my birds in my fenced in back yard- 3 in one day. The birds were a mess for a good 24 hours and skittish for 2-3 days.

After the fox attacked when they were free ranging, the recovery time seemed faster. Once we lost all but one bird- she was a nervous mess for weeks. Even now, she's more aloof then our other 11.

We have a nice enclosed, covered run now. All but one of our current crew have lived a predator free life. SO FAR......
I have chickens with and without roosters and in my opinion i find that they feel safer with a roo around.
I know roosters take good care of them and i don't have to watch them as much.

The more mature a roo is, the less he will have to learn.
young roo's tend to bother or scare the girls trying to figure out how to mate by pulling there feathers to much, not knowing how to protect them or alert them of danger.
I think either will work but it might be easier with a mature roo because he already knows what to do and how to act.

But like others said you don't really NEED one
Sorry to hear of your loss. Hawkes are the most common chicken predatory problem in my area. I have 4 flying around my property, eyeballin' my babies. They fly "just" overhead, staring down my girls, those bleepin' beasts! I haven't lost any yet, thank goodness, but everywhere my girls are, they are covered. Controlled free range is the safest bet I think! It's a good compromise.
Since you have young pullets, if you get a mature roo he will start trying to mate with them, and he may hurt or kill them. My 20 week olds are going through that right now with the roos wanting to mate, and many aren't ready yet, so they lose neck feathers and get pecked on the head a lot. You can try stringing up some old CD's in your free range area--some say that will frighten the hawks. When a young redtail recently flew around some of my birds, the roos and most pullets ran to the coop, but 3 goofy girls just stood around going "what was that?" They wouldn't even go in after I tried to run them in.
Wow, thank you all for the responses. I really appreciate the helpful ideas! I am so new and reasonably clueless when it comes to keeping animals (other than cats and apparantly I'm really good at that because mine all live to be 19 or 20!), I feel badly for the demise of my roos as I do feel it could have been avoided had I been a bit more prepared. Baptism by fire I guess - I just don't like it when animals get hurt because I'm ignorant as to how to best protect them:(. We are going to string some fishing line across and the cds sound like a reasonable idea...also going to implement more structures for them to hide under, and limit the amount of free range they have access to. My littlest buff (2.5 mos) came down to see me today but the older buff (4mos) still wasn't having anything to do with being out of her four-walled and roofed home. My americauna is always shy, but at least came to eat. I'm really happy about that short memory they have! I also think we will get a YOUNGER rooster (thank you for that tip) so the hens are ready for him when he gets the "urge". Wow...if someone had told me 5 years ago that I would have chickens, I would have had them committed for being off their rocker. But I love my chickens!

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