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First casualty :(

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by CritterFarmer, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. CritterFarmer

    CritterFarmer In the Brooder

    Feb 28, 2009
    We're surrounded by a lot of woods and old pasture land. PERFECT hawk habitat. Last fall I had a Cooper's Hawk migrating through that within about 5 days made repeated dives at the chickens. Never successful, and I think it was because of our Chineese geese. Things didn't quite work out so well with the geese and chickens, so I got rid of the geese a few months ago and replaced them with 3 guinea fowl (1 male, 2 females).

    All spring we've had a pair of Red-tailed hawks that have been around. I never seen them eyeing up our birds, but they'd fly over and I'd see them perched in old snags in the neighbouring fields. Well, last night I came home and realized the male guinea was missing. I can't say for SURE that he was predated on, but I searched high and low for him and can't find even so much as a feather. Whether he left on his own accord or was predated is no-matter... it's still got me nervous enough that I want to step up my hawk deterent system a bit.

    Our chickens free-range in a large fanced old pasture. It's far too big to cover it or put netting over, and I don't want to make it any smaller, I'm acutally looking at enlarging it this spring so they don't turn their run into dirt so quick (with 2 separate runs to cycle pastures). I do have a very responsible roo, and maybe that's why my girls have been fine all this time. I have a dog (lazy) and he doesn't get access in/near the chickens, so he's not a deterrent. I actively encourage crows along with feeding the wild ones in the field. However, I need to do more. This spring I will be planting a number of apple trees within their run, but they won't amount to much cover for a few years.

    There has been a lot of mention of fishing line strung up. I like the idea, but I'm worried I won't see the fishing line well and if some breaks or sun-rots and falls into the pen I won't see it and the chickens might try to eat it. Instead, I was thinking of getting some bailer twine and some tall poles or stakes (so I can walk under it all) and running a few lines back and forth. I was curious what other people have done with the fishing line, and how close the lines have to be. Could I get away with every 10 feet or so, or do I have to make it a thick weave of string?

    Any advice?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I haven't done any of this, but have read about it here. Some people string CD's up. The flashing as they move in the wind is supposed to help. I don't know how far apart they put them, but I'd think if the motion is what scares them, it would not have to be real close.

    Someone else mentioned setting up hiding places for the birds. You could build a small plywood shelter about a foot or less off the ground. They said they used an old satellite dish. The idea is to put up something the chickens can hide under if one spots a hawk. The rooster is supposed to be good about watching out for hawks.

    I don't think anything other than a total enclosure will stop a hawk, but you can improve the chickens odds.
  3. Fredster

    Fredster Songster

    Feb 21, 2007
    Quote:I haven't lost a chicken since I installed my hawk deterrent system:



    Before that, we lost three to hawks in a matter of weeks.
  4. chilling in muscadine

    chilling in muscadine { I love being disfunctual }

    Jun 8, 2008
    muscadine, al.
    Fredsters dogs are supposed to be the best for your problem. I have heard of hanging the CDs but have never tried it. I would definately put them out some hiding spots to duck up under. The roos are so great with there warning alerts so if the hens had somewhere to run and hide they will. Attracting crows will help and I read about another BYC member that put a turkey with there chickens and that stoped the hawks. Good luck with your problem.
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Have you thought about trying turkeys? That seems to be working for a few people. We're thinking about it. Small livestock work well, too. A couple of goats, sheep or mini-donkeys would work, if you wanted some.

    The dogs mentioned are great.

    In addition to using fishing line or string criss-crossed over the area, you could try some cds that flash in the sun and streamers that blow in the wind.

    It's always a good idea to give them as much cover as you can. Trees are good, but don't forget about shrubs/bushes. My chickens really like to hang out underneath them. You can also put some man-made items or structures out there for cover.
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I dont use fishing line, but mason's line, the neon pink or yellow type you can get at the hardware store. It's very tough, visible and will last a long time. We have a huge hawk population here and I've never lost one to a hawk.
  7. CritterFarmer

    CritterFarmer In the Brooder

    Feb 28, 2009
    I'm not interested in getting another dog, or other livestock at this point. The turkey idea sounds quite interesting though. Would there be any aggression issues towards the chickens though, and would a tom be fine if there were no other turkeys around?

    Getting a turkey around here other than the meat variety is pretty hit-and-miss. The only hatchery around that has a number of varieties sells them mixed only... so it'd be pretty hit or miss in getting a tom. I'm not too crazy about buying one from a sales barn or market either. Never know how they've been raised or what they've got.

    As for cover, there are three small shrubs in there now and where I plan to extend the run they would also have a very large and low growing Mantioba maple. And of course they have free access to the barn stalls (where they're put in at night) so they can and do high-tail it in there if danger is around.

    SpeckledHen - How close do you have your lines together? I figured I'd go with a poly bailer twine as you can buy huge rolls of various colours pretty cheap, and it should weather well.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009

  8. grandma s

    grandma s Hatching

    Mar 3, 2009
    Our chickens are free range too and did not have any problems with hawks until a couple of weeks ago when one hit our older hen who is 5. I was able to scare the hawk away before he had his lunch. My husband put wire over part of the chicken yard. He strung it from the garden shed to the coup about 3 feet apart and then fenced that area in. Our BO Rooster had the other hens under a cherry tree plus the neighborhood crows were squakling - loudly but from now on I will be outside when they are in the other part of the yard and hopefully that will be a deterant until the trees are in full bloom and I can put some more hiding places in their area.
  9. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    you can overturn a couple of garbage pails and cut holes - think of a large cartoon-style mouse hole - on the sides. Please them around the area where the chickens free-range and they'll have a place to escape to should a hawk be spotted.
  10. CritterFarmer

    CritterFarmer In the Brooder

    Feb 28, 2009
    Good idea!
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009

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