Free range chickens are becoming Hawk Take-out!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Shutter Up, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. Shutter Up

    Shutter Up Out Of The Brooder

    I'm a relatively new chicken raiser! I started with my 10 pullets 2 months ago and sadly am down to 8 now.

    My pullets (Ameraucana's and 1 Black Copper Marran) are 8 months roughly, in the last 4 weeks, I've lost 2 to hawks. One was taken away, the last, 2 days ago was too big to take away, but sadly that didnt stop the hawks. I found what was left in the pasture.

    My chickens free range & coop at night. Even being around the chickens during the day doesnt seem to deter the hawks. We live in rural/woods area of Maryland - all farm land and woods and there are a ton of hawks. I hate the idea of chicken tractoring them but I'm seeing no option. I cant stand feeding the hawks!

    Any idea's would be greatly appreciated.
  2. nickie

    nickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2011
    north central KY
    When you free range you have to accept the risks involved. Short of putting a dome over your entire property to continue free ranging there is very little that can be done about a brave and hungry hawk. I'm sure there are things you can do to deter them a bit, but there are no sure things. Sorry.

    This comes from a person who lost a 4 year old duck 6 days ago to a hawk. I know and accept the risks of ranging my poultry... It hurts when you lose one, but it happens.
  3. mtnviewfarms

    mtnviewfarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hello Shutter - So sorry about the loss of your pullets to hawks. Unfortunately humans are not the only living creatures that 'love' to eat chicken. I too live in a very woodsy and open field environment but I live in the north GA mtns.

    I would LOVE to be able to 'pasture' my 60 plus flock of various Heritage breeds on our nearly three acres but it would mean sure and traumatic death to many of them due to the prevalence
    of hawks and other predatory species that abound in my ( and most ) areas of our country.

    Our land layout does not lend itself to the chicken tractor method so we've opted to build a huge airy and open but 'extremely secure from predators' run that is roofed.

    The flock enjoys their 'gathered by me' - twice daily treats of fresh garden greens, produce, grasses, flowers, fruit, pumpkins, squash, melons, cabbage, weeds, etc. - whatever is 'growing' at the time in our gardens, orchards and on the property ( of course this is additional to their Premium Layer Pellets and ACG added to their water ). Since we garden organically we don't have to worry that
    what we are giving them is dangerous to them.

    Is this as enjoyable to them - or me - as it would be if they were 'pasturing'? Probably not but getting theirhead torn off by a bird of prey wouldn't be either so I've weighed out 'their options' and have opted for safety and security for them at this point.

    We do have an overgrown blueberry orchard adjacent to their coops and run areas and as money is available we plan to fence it with 5 ft. high cattle fencing but that is cost prohibitive at the moment. Even with that fence I'm sure we will still lose some to predation and those that 'fly over' to see what's on the 'other side' as we don't clip wings.

    The issue you are sadly dealing with is one that is a constant one for those of us who love to raise and care for poultry. We each have to 'weigh the odds', do our research and make decisions and choices to determine what system is most beneficial for our birds that best fits our unique situation.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  4. nova022

    nova022 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 3, 2012
    I am sorry for your loss. I agree with mntviewfarms' approach. Inow my girls would love tho free range but the risks from hawks and raccoons is just too high in this area to make that possible. My girls stay in a covered run while I am at work and I have an area planted with veggies, grass and flowers for them which I am currently fencing in, when I can be home to keep an eye on the sky.

    Someone a different thread mentioned that they use a plastic owl to keep the hawks at bay and they say it works well. I am looking for one to give it a try.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Shutter Up,

    Have you considered using a dog. For me dog is very effective against all raptors.
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    You really only have 2 options. Accept your losses or else pen the birds up in secure housing.

    Since it might or might not have been hawks (did you see them in the act?) and lots of different predators will kill chickens, the pen must be quite secure.

    Normally, if you secure against raccoons, then nothing else can get in. So that is what I aim for with my pens.
  7. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 2, 2011
    Reading this thread just gave me a huge reality check. My 3 month old pullets free range during the day, and go into a lockdown pen/coop at night. I live in a rural area, with 100 acres of woods behind me. I have been very lucky so far, and have attributed my peace to my LSG dog that is always by my side. I wish he would hang out with them more, but he is young, and I don't think he realizes that danger can befall them. I imagine the minute he sees something go for them, his instincts will realize...oops, something is goiing after Alpha's chickens.He brings them into the pen when I ask him to, when I go out, or have to go in the house. I see Hawks circling, around my property, but more back in the woods, then overhead. I expect as it gets colder, and not as much prey is hanging out, their sites will set to the chickens.

    I actually have a lot of large black crows that are constanly waring with the Hawks, the other morning I witnessed an all out war in my paddock while I was enjoying my morning coffee. My LSG dog goes nuts for them when he sees them. I try to tell him they aren't so bad, but I read they can go after chicks too.


    As others posted, I know this comes with the decision to free range, but I only have 10, and will inch along and see how it goes.

    Sorry for the loss of your 2 pullets.

  8. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 2, 2011
    Oh , and one more thing Shutter,

    Welcome to BYC![​IMG][​IMG]
  9. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 21, 2012
    North Texas
    -so sorry for your loss. -very tough decision. You have two options: continue to free-range your flock or utilize a run. If you opt to range, I would suggest obtaining and training a dog to guard your flock. Also, I would recommend the addition of a rooster. Roosters are valuable when it comes to alerting the gals to danger and giving them time to dart for cover. My two roos are priceless. They spot hawks from afar before I ever get a glimpse, sound the alarm, and get everyone to safe cover.

    As far as plastic owls go, mine keeps the Mockingbirds away from the garden but is useless at keeping away hawks.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  10. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 2, 2011
    Speaking of this, are all roosters good watchers? I have a Columbian Wyandotte cockrel and 9 pullets. Now I know they are young, but he doesn't seem to be any of these things I have read about in here. In fact I observe 2 pullets seeming to challange him and appear to me to be higher up in the dominance thing. He just started crowing. Maybe they are like humans, and until he starts towards sexual maturity, the females can lead them around by their noses!

    Been on too many middle school trips to know that!

    Are certain breeds know to be the champion guardian roosters of the universe, or is it just individual bird personality?

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