Free ranging and chicken hawks



Jul 25, 2019
My Coop
My Coop
my chickens are in a coop and enclosed run 24/7 but I have great land for them to free range but it’s not fenced in and I know they’d love running every where around here but what about chicken hawks stray cats, stray dogs, coyotes, snakes etc??? Im scared to let them out but it’s so pretty around their coop I want to
How do you free rangers deal with this?
It all depends on where you live and the specific dangers of your area. I keep my dog out with the girls while free ranging a few hours each day. She barks at all large birds (we taught her to). Coyotes, raccoons, etc don’t come out until night (generally). You can talk to chicken people close to your home and ask about the animal activity.
Sadly we do lose chickens to predators. It's a risk we take by free ranging. I try to stay outside while my flock are loose, but even then I've had hawks take hens right in front of me. Some people have had really good success using livestock guardian dogs to protect their chickens, you might try that and see how it goes. :)
Free ranging involves risk no matter where you are. Your flock has a leader that keeps an eye out for predators even though their risk is low right now. In order for them to become wise enough to survive while free ranging you have to give them the opportunity to do it and risk losses. They are very smart with the instinct to survive.
Does your free range area have bushes or other hiding places where the chickens can hide if they need to? If it's just a wide open field they are at higher risk. Our free range area has trees, shrubs, long bushy rows of old lilies and irises, a picnic table and other things that would be obstacles to birds of prey and our losses have been minimal. And we have a very barky, territorial Sheltie that keeps coyotes away. If you can provide plenty of shelters for them, that will really help.
I live in an area that could be considered an incubator for hawks. I don't do actual free ranging because of this. I put up a temporary fence outside of their run and let them out into that area. I have the time so I sit with them for an hour or so. This is my compromise. The area is small enough to protect them from any predators but large enough to give them a break from their coop and run. There have been times when the hawks fly close overhead but they haven't dived in for a chicken snack yet. Just this brief time every day (weather permitting) really calms them down and they seem happier.
Mine have been free ranging part of each day for 7 years. We have tons of different Hawks and coyotes and foxes. I have only lost one to a hawk when she got into the neighbors open field and couldn't get back to her trees..poor girl..when I have extra hawk activity I keep them locked up for a few days. I know all the Hawks know there are chickens here. I yell at em when they fly over to get outta here. My girls think I am the coolest rooster unfortunately our neighbors got a new pit bull so we are putting a gate across our driveway just in case. The girls and boys that free range do develope the wisdom to watch for all kinds of critters.
That’s two sides of the coop they have plenty of trees but hawks can sit in them also and there is a giant field on the other side of the trees


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