Good flock protecters?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by DesertChickens1, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. DesertChickens1

    DesertChickens1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello!
    I'm looking into getting a good animal that could keep predators, mainly Hawks, away from my flock.right now they are in a cage with my goats they have plenty of room but I feel like they would be happier if they could free-range more.the only bad predator we really have is a Cooper's hawk that has taken a couple of pigeons out of the sky he hasn't gone by the coop yet but I don't want to risk letting the chickens out and him coming by.I was thinking an animal like a turkey or a goose or something might be able to keep it away. I would get my dogs to follow the flock around but only my hunting dog is good with the chickens and she likes to run after rabbits so she wouldn't stay with them very well.any suggestions on a good Guardian animal?
     
  2. I feel a rooster makes good flock protection, but that isn't for everyone.
     
  3. MeghanChickLady

    MeghanChickLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A herding dog, trained to stay with the herd(or in this case, "flock"), would probably do wonders. I don't know about turkeys or geese, but as they are much larger than a chicken(typically) I think they would be safe themselves but wouldn't do much for the chickens.

    Or you could try what I have done. I grabbed a rake and free ranged the chickens. After twenty minutes or so of just letting them eat, scratch, and roam, I went out and held the rake high above my head, the spines toward the sky. It cast a shadow on the chickens, and, naturally, spooked them. I herded them with it, using both the rake by moving it over their heads side to side, and using the shadow. I herded them to their coop, where they all headed inside, before heading off myself. Again I let them wander out again, scratch and the such, before repeating the process. I did this several times, and if done correctly, your result will be that at the sight of the shadow the chickens will run for the coop.

    So when a hawk flies overhead, and casts a shadow, the chickens now run for the coop. The shadow does not have to touch them for them to know, "Something I don't like is over my head and I need to go home!" I had to do this only three or four times before they got it. And my rooster and some of my hens developed the habit to screech loudly whenever they saw a shadow or the such.

    I hope my method works for you as it did for me!
     
  4. DesertChickens1

    DesertChickens1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I never would have thought to do that! That's so cool, I'm going to have to try that someday soon! Thanks for the info
     
  5. DesertChickens1

    DesertChickens1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think roosters are good for warning but I've had two roosters taken by hawks
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Dog need not stay with birds and that seldom practical anyway. Dog needs to patrol perimeter leaving fresh markings and make itself visible as a potential threat by predators casing joint. Dog also needs to respond to chicken alarms. My dogs do not stay with birds but do frequently check on stock as they patrol. My stock is divided up into discrete flocks divided over several acres making so staying with birds impractical.
     
  7. ThePRfan

    ThePRfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dogs.

    Roosters are knownfor protecting,but dont.Roosters dont stand up to birds of prey,or foxes coyotes,coons etc.
    A rooster is just like a hen,just is a male,and doesnt lay,not tougher,or braver.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    With respect to hawks that is not accurate.
     
  9. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dogs can be greatly effective against ground predators but not so much with aerial predators. If you want to free range, offer your flock plenty of places to take cover; shrubbery and such will not only give protection but certain types can also double as a food source for them whilst foraging.
     
  10. Dry Creek Ranch

    Dry Creek Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    A lot depends on your situation and what you are willing to put up with or pay for.

    The cheapest and least effective option would be several roosters. They keep an eye out for predators and give the warning sound for everyone to take cover. My roosters will make one sound for winged predators and another for the four legged kind. Brave roosters usually get eaten by the hawk first. Can you put up with the crowing?

    I am fortunate to have six crows that nest on my property. I feed them corn by way of a deer feeder. It is rare for me to spot a hawk before the crows do. They will harass the hell out of a hawk until it leaves. The cost of a couple of bags of corn a month to feed the crows, deer, and whatever else shows up at the feeder is worth it to me.

    The most expensive and IMO the most effective are two livestock guardian dogs. I have two Anatolian Shepherds. My male (Jack) weighs 130-140 and my female (Jill) weighs 110-115. They were breed to protect sheep and goats in Turkey from wolves. My female seems to take the night shift and the male takes the day shift. They have each other for backup and company. I find coyote scat at the back of my property but nothing within a 500 yard radius of my house and barn. They will kill raccoons and possums but sleep with a goat and a chicken in their dog house (see picture below). I once threw out some rotten eggs the chickens had laid under the hen house. I later heard the chickens giving the alarm call so I went out to see what was going on. There was Jack with a mouth full of turkey vulture feathers where I had thrown the eggs and a turkey vulture flying away. I have no doubt he would do the same to a hawk if given the chance. They have also run off a neighbors dog who came to close. They are not cheap to buy or feed. They were $600 a piece from a good breeder, $300 each for shots and neutering, and go through 50lbs (for both) of Purina dog chow ($23 at Wal-Mart) every week and a half to two weeks (they eat more in the winter). They protect me, my property, and my animals so I feel it is money well spent. A bonus is they are very affectionate dogs.

    My animals free range during the day but are penned (not the dogs) in electric poultry netting at night. Keeps them safe when the predators are most active and makes the dogs job easier at night.



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    Jack watching the other goats and chickens outside while Jill snuggles up with Louise the goat.

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    Jack in the foreground with goats, turkeys, and chickens foraging in the background.

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    Jack with my cocker spaniels (Maggie and Molly)

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    Jill smiling for the camera

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    A coyote caught on a game cam 1500 yards from my house. I have never seen signs of them closer than 500 yards from my house.
     
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