Free ranging and chicken hawks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by J99, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. Icantraisechickenshelp

    Icantraisechickenshelp Chirping

    Apr 14, 2019
    New York City
    Maybe you can build a hiding structure just for them.
    It's true most predators come at night. But skunks don't. A skunk almost killed my chicken when I luckily intervented.
  2. natyvidal

    natyvidal Chirping

    Mar 1, 2018
    I live 1 hour north of Tampa, Florida in the country. My property is surrounded by other property that are fenced. This is country and all the properties are from 5 acres up. The area where my chicken coop is located is under some big trees and there are open areas as well as covered areas for them to free roam. I also have an African goose and three guinea hens all together with the chickens and the two roosters. They all go together into the coop at night and I let them out to the open run and whole property to free range. I also have a mini donkey that foams the property during the day.
    When we moved here in August last year, our neighbors warned us about foxes, coyotes, and the regular predators typical on Florida.

    Now. Until now I’ve never lost one member of the flock to predators. (Nock on wood.) but all the members in the flock family have been acquired for a purpose. Also where I have the coop.
    The guinea hens as soon as they see some danger or feel a threat they make a unique sound as a warning. You can see the whole flock attention and scurrying to safety.

    The goose also free range with them and he seem to tell the flock when it’s time to go to the coop. Or of newcomers.

    The two roosters also protect the ladies of their “harem.” And they will fight any threat to their ladies.

    The flock spend most of the day under the trees. It’s like shelter for them. When they are going across fields or open spaces they seem to hurry or stay close to the buildings.

    And the donkey? He is there to roam the property and scare any wild dogs or coyotes from my ladies.

    So far what I’ve put together is working.
    And I acquired all my fowl as chicks. Raised them myself and slowly introduced them to their new home and the free range. Their instinct kicked in and took over. Was I afraid all these months that I would loose some of them? Yes. I was. I care for my critters very much. But, seeing them so happy and in their natural habitat, being themselves and a happy uncaged flock... it’s worth it. If I ever loose one I’ll replace it. And the new one will learn from the other ones. But, it’s important that you get them young to integrate them easier to the flock! I hope I have provided some good ideas for your flock to be happy. If putting up a fence there are electric ones that can help you. I hope I was helpful.
  3. BreanneRN

    BreanneRN Songster

    Jun 8, 2017
    Central CA
    I have skunks, possums, fox (but it's gone now), owls, and I have seen hawks. Biggest trouble was the fox, who at the heights of it's predation came during the day, 3 times a day (and night, too). I do have some free range chickens, and have to say that if you want a free-range flock, you should have an appropriate breed for that (it is good if they can fly up into trees and buildings). And, if they are total free range, some losses are expected. But, good free rangers will brood and replenish the free-range flock. The Easter Eggers are my free-rangers. The other breeds I have (Brahma, Cochin, Silkies) are never allowed to free range, because they can't fly or run fast enough.
  4. Chelsa'sChicks

    Chelsa'sChicks Songster

    Aug 16, 2017
    I free range, but my chickens don't go out until noon due to automatic door opener. I want to avoid am predators and the door closes at night too. They all come back and know how to get in before dusk. I also should mention that I have the meanest rooter to keep them safe. He is excellent at his job, extremely fast to find them and is immediately into action. So I feel pretty safe with him watching them. Also I am not worried about hawks as they have trees, shrubs and other foliage to hide in (when I say hide I mean the weeds are 3-5 ft tall in some areas). I love seeing them happy and being outside doing their thing :love Also they do know to stay in the bushes and not stand around in the open. I have only seen them in the open if they are on the move from one place to another and they run.. I believe they truly in their chicken hearts know everything likes chicken..
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  5. Stockpilejoy

    Stockpilejoy Songster

    Jan 13, 2019
    I'd say you've got the ideal formula for keeping your flock safe and haPPy!
  6. jlwquilter

    jlwquilter Songster

    Apr 30, 2019
    West Palm Beach FL
    I’ve seen raccoons in the middle of the day in the middle of my driveway. I lost a hen a few years ago to a bobcat 10 feet off my front door that I had gone thru not 10 minutes earlier. I followed a bobcat at 10am down my road after she had come from checking if the girls were out that morning. They weren’t only because I had a dentist appointment that morning.

    Learned the hard way. Now my chickens range within a fenced area adjacent to the electric fenced area of their run under supervision. This give them grass and compost access. They LOVE it.

    We just planted some fast growing bushes over the weekend to provide more shade as well as cover in the grassy area AND to break up a flight path now that a red shoulder hawk is hanging about. I have more predator protection to do - every time we add or change something in the coop or run it means a whole new look at predator protection. It’s a never ending battle.
    J99, Aunt Angus, Stockpilejoy and 2 others like this.
  7. jolenesdad

    jolenesdad Crowing

    Apr 12, 2015
    Montgomery, TX
    Nice post. As with most things with chickens, you’re going to have to learn yourself what works for your chickens in YOUR environment.

    I lost three of my six to hawks last year. In two days. I was pretty devastated. I stocked back up to ten, and vowed personally to keep them safe.

    That didn’t work for me. Their eggs were pale, they were bored, and I just felt like they spent an extremely disgusting amount of time wallowing in their own poop.

    So now I free range again. I didn’t change anything, I have literally ten times as many birds this year, and I haven’t had any losses so far. I do occasionally see some crows around. Maybe they are helping???

    I’m fairly concerned with migration time coming up again, but my chickens are their happiest outside so what will be will have to be.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    This year for me hawk action and fox action very light and not targeting chickens. Three birds were lost to raccoons when we had a persistent power failure and I was out of town. Owls not been actually visiting beyond watching me from perch before starting night of hunting. Black Rat Snake's and a baby Opossum were biggest problem stealing eggs. Those were relocated or dispatched, respectively. Each year is different.

    I have been trapping and taking a few predators probing perimeter. One raccoon beat perimeter during latter part of power outage and I filmed it trying to get penned chickens. It got none.
  9. dkkirby

    dkkirby Songster

    Aug 5, 2018
    We hang cd discs in all our trees and around the coops.
    J99 likes this.
  10. Trevorusn

    Trevorusn Songster

    Apr 15, 2019
    New Hampshire
    Today is the first day of them free ranging with no one home. My flock is pretty young but have learned my land enough to know where things are. I leave the coop open and have basically woods and low bushes all around, plus open areas under my porch and cars for them to run under for aerial predators. I also have 2 cockerels. The younger Faverolle is still in the goofy early adolescent stage but my BJG is already standing watch. There are some precautions you can take againsy four legged predators as well. Spread human hair around and have your dog/dogs "use the head" around your property perimeter, and if you have say coyote pack trouble, spread wolf urine, and step up the size of the animal urine as needed. I have a family of a momma black bear and three cubs sighted literally down the road but so far no issues. We get raccoons and skunks all the time and also so far no issues.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: