Guess I got my right of passage as a chicken owner :(

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
531
353
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Southern Berkshires, MA
Our favorite hen was killed by a hawk yesterday. We've been seeing at least one around a lot recently and while we were out the girls got out and one was killed. The 2 left are still so scared today and just leave the coop to go into their run to eat and drink then go right back in to the coop. My kids are going to be devastated! We offered her body to the hawk hoping that's enough to keep it away for a while (and to maker her death not in vain). I don't know how often they need to feed but it looks like she has a nest nearby. We were surprised where the hawk killed her. She was pinned in the shed (more of a lean to) and the hawk was able to kill her but not eat her as she was stuck in between some farm equipment. We always thought they wouldn't attack in tight spaces where they can't fly out of. I'm attaching a pic of our set up to see what we should be doing differently. I still feel like they're exposed on the mesh side (the other side has the tarp pulled down and pinned to the ground) and that the hawk could get its beak through and still injure them? Also, now that it's eaten an entire chicken (bigger than it was) should I assume it won't return? Not letting my guard down, but man, we've only had them since October and have had some scares but thought we were safe.
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CCUK

Free Flying
Jan 21, 2018
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Sorry about your hen. Really you need to have some netting or some type of cover over the top of your run if there are hawks nearby. It will probably have another go if it has a nest with chicks. Is that plastic a fence around the run? If it is you should probably replace it with something more substantial like hardware cloth or you may end up with ground dwelling predators getting in too. You can never have too much protection against predators. It seems everything wants too kill them or eat them.
 

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
531
353
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Southern Berkshires, MA
She has a nest...in the neighbor's yard! The run is chicken wire over plastic tubing and covered in plastic for the winter (like a greenhouse hoophouse) and it goes over the coop. The side is plastic netting like what you'd see in construction just black not orange. The hawk can't see them from overhead but it was perched on the coop yesterday before it killed her so it definitely now knows there are chickens in there. Plus, we've let them free range when we're around and we've seen several circling before. The coop is tight. It's the run that needs work I think. But what happened was the piece of wood we had to close off the exit fell over and that's how they got out. My husband was even here when it happened but didn't hear anything :(
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
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Sorry for your loss, I went through the same recently. Now my run is covered with heavy duty netting as a deterrent. Live and learn, I suppose.

Your run needs to be far more secure. Chicken wire, plastic sheet and netting, none of those things are predator resistant and I fear what might happen if a dog, coyote, raccoon, etc. were to come around. If you and your family aren't really handy and want something premade to build off of, consider getting something like a covered dog kennel and then reinforce it with hardware cloth at least the first few feet up from the bottom, and aproned out. That should provide more security at a reasonable cost with minimal work.
 

Nuffy

Chirping
Jan 26, 2018
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Sorry for your loss, I went through the same recently. Now my run is covered with heavy duty netting as a deterrent. Live and learn, I suppose.

Your run needs to be far more secure. Chicken wire, plastic sheet and netting, none of those things are predator resistant and I fear what might happen if a dog, coyote, raccoon, etc. were to come around. If you and your family aren't really handy and want something premade to build off of, consider getting something like a covered dog kennel and then reinforce it with hardware cloth at least the first few feet up from the bottom, and aproned out. That should provide more security at a reasonable cost with minimal work.
Hawks love to pin their prey, smaller than a chicken indicates coppers or sharp shinned hawk. A Sharp shinned can dive in the gap easily. Keep the girls in and hope after the ffledglings move on you can give them free time. A dog run is the best idea, you can cover that with wire then cover for snow prot
 

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
531
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Southern Berkshires, MA
Hawks love to pin their prey, smaller than a chicken indicates coppers or sharp shinned hawk. A Sharp shinned can dive in the gap easily. Keep the girls in and hope after the ffledglings move on you can give them free time. A dog run is the best idea, you can cover that with wire then cover for snow prot
I looked online of all the hawks in the area and it doesn't resemble any of them. But it must've been a hawk. It had that awful beak. The kids and my husband would really like a dog but I've been dragging my heels. We used to have a rooster but it attacked the kids so I don't want another one, plus it would probably be the same jerk :/. I'm thinking a dog might be a predator deterrent but how would it get along with the chickens?
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
7 Years
Apr 9, 2014
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N. California
I'm so sorry about losing your favorite. Most of us have lost birds to predators, so sadly, it does seem a rite of passage. I say this as someone who lost over half my flock to bobcat because of fencing mistakes.

I agree with the others, that you need to re-think and improve your run. What you have, may keep your chickens in, but it will not keep most any of the the likely predators out -- raccoons, weasels, a loose dog -- would go right through or push aside that netting. A hawk could easily get through the gaps under the tarp. I would confine your survivors to the smaller, and more secure run that is part of your coop, until you can improve the larger run. A reinforced dog run as others have suggested is a great idea.

Good luck with this. If you need help figuring out how to put in a better run, there are lots of people here who can help with that!
 

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
531
353
196
Southern Berkshires, MA
Yes that is what we're doing. With just 2 now it's plenty big enough for them to stay in the coop and we will reassess. Still haven't told the kids yet :/
 
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