Nov 11, 2020
1,610
2,748
286
West Virginia
I went cheap on this run and did 2"x4" horse fencing with just 2 feet of hardware cloth around the bottom. Chicken wire top that had a few gaps prior to the owl invasion (none now). It's only about 15 feet from the house so that dissuades most large predatory mammals, and thankfully raccoons aren't an issue here. I felt very good about it before this happened, but alas, in the chicken biz you very often find you get what you paid for when it comes to the coop build.
I built a raised coop and enclosed run and a covered extension out of pallets and recycled wood (covered top to bottom with 1/2" and 1/4" hardware cloth) A 50 foot pallet fence goes from one end of the extension run to the other side of my yard. It all matches the Greenhouse I made out of pallets last year. Next year I hope to attach a 50 foot section of chicken tunnels along the inside of the pallet fence to protect them better. My family questions why I would do all this for 6 chickens. Admittedly its not the prettiest thing but we do the best we can with what we have, right? :lau
 

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FeatherHillOakland

In the Brooder
Nov 4, 2021
10
24
34
While I don't free range my flock myself I do know what works if you want to keep birds safe. Until I got my run covered in hardware cloth netting was all I had. It comes in all shapes and sizes and colors too.Instead of relying on trees to give your chickens cover add netting .Hawks will be able to swoop down and grab one without landing without it!
We have a large coop and attached run with hardwire apron and sides, aluminum roofing. They do have secure areas.
I never had this issue with the tree full and was curious if it was coincidence or related that’s all. Not relying on the tree for safety!
 

FeatherHillOakland

In the Brooder
Nov 4, 2021
10
24
34
We have a coop and small roofed run combination, and have lost birds to hawks. Most often it's a bantam or young bird, and then survivors are more cautious.
If we do have a hawk attack, or one lurking, our birds are locked in for at least ten days, and usually two weeks or more. A successful hawk will try again!
Our roosters alert to any large bird overhead, including vultures, sandhill cranes, and geese. Better too careful than unaware!
Trees, shrubs, and 'stuff' to hide under all helps, because chickens really aren't meant to be on open grass at all. They are jungle animals originally.
And our worst daytime predators have been canines!!!
Mary
Yes ours are being spoiled in the run with lots of hanging veggies currently. Run restricted for the next 2 weeks. At least!
 

FeatherHillOakland

In the Brooder
Nov 4, 2021
10
24
34
We just moved to our new property earlier this year and this is my first time dealing with birds of prey... suffice it to say that I underestimated them. On my neighbor's advice, I didn't even try free-ranging during midday due to the hawk presence in the area. The chickens get to run around from 5pm until sundown. Other than that, they have 24/7 access to their covered runs.

Welp... a couple weeks ago a great horned owl literally squeezed himself into one of the coops through a 4"x5" gap and took out 6 pullets. Apparently none of the cockerels took it upon themselves to intervene, as they're off the clock as soon as they hit the roost. :rolleyes: After he dispatched the girls he couldn't find his way back out. I did my best to scare him silly and then let him go. Well, wouldn't you know it — he came back that very same night after I went to bed, squeezed his way in again, and finished his meal (just the ones he'd already killed, thank goodness). He was in the coop, fat and happy as a clam, when I came in the morning to clean up the bodies.

My takeaway: birds of prey aren't scared of you and don't care about whatever obstacles you throw up at them. If they're around, chickens either need to be very well secured or need to be able to get somewhere the larger birds can't access.
I’m so sorry! That’s an incredible photo you captured.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
30,066
32,233
971
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
:welcome :frow In the past I free ranged but lost birds to predators so now the birds all have nice large covered pens. Once a Red-Tailed hawk did find a breach and got into a pen and went on a killing spree. I was away on errands and a Dr's appointment so I was gone for quite awhile. When I got home the birds were going crazy and then I saw the hawk. I fixed the breach and have seen plenty of hawks since but no more issues there. A couple of times I have had a hawk kill a bird right next to me in our blueberry patch. It happened so fast I didn't have time to react. Another time I was outside working with some chicks in a small temporary pen next to me and a hawk came down and grabbed a chick and all I could do was watch it fly off with my chick. Again it happened so fast there was no time to react. Once your birds are discovered the hawks may hang around and look for an opportunity. All of my birds are large fowl.
Here are some of the birds I retrieved when the hawk got into a pen. They were nearly ready to start laying. Good luck...
IMG_20190911_173150.jpg
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
30,066
32,233
971
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
Yes ours are being spoiled in the run with lots of hanging veggies currently. Run restricted for the next 2 weeks. At least!
There are a lot of ways to entertain the birds in their pens. Now when I leave a pen gate open the birds may come out but are right back in. I think they feel safer in their pens but my land is mostly open pasture. I do have electric wires around my coops and pens and nothing has gotten past the hot wires. I also have several cameras up and see plenty of predators roaming here mostly at night. I leave my pop doors open 24/7/365. Again, good luck...
 

catballou

Songster
Feb 12, 2021
201
208
126
Michigan
November is a very dangeous month for migrating hawks. Is there a way you can fence off a small area outside the run? I created a chicken yard that I criss crossed string across. It's a large area 50 x 100 for my 9 girls. It's not fool proof but knock on wood it's working for us so far. With that said, my girls are hawk savey and listen to the blue jays. I don't let them into the yard until 2 and put them up by 5. It's been my experience that hawks look for breakfast , lunch and dinner. So I let my girls out after lunch and before dinner.
 

catballou

Songster
Feb 12, 2021
201
208
126
Michigan
I only let my 10 hens out after 4 pm in the winter, 6 in the summer. They're a little safer because the hawks usually have retired for the night. My run is too big to cover so I tied random parachute cord across the top at odd angles. So fat so good.
(Knock on wood)
I tried letting them free range all day but lost too many to predators.
 

Hopperkiller

Songster
7 Years
Dec 8, 2013
231
679
222
slidell, tx
1. All 3 of my hawk attacks have been from trees with leaves. They like to hide and sneak. I think you are thinking the lack of leaves could have enabled a hawk flying over to see them easier. Could be. I would say, plant some bushes if you can. This would provide better cover for them.

2. The dog would probably not be a deterrent unless he were actively working like a rooster or working dog would. Hawks can be quite bold. All 3 of my hawk attacks happened when I was sitting or standing within 20-30 feet. (We are usually out together.)

3. I've witnessed our crows reacting to a hawk and thus warning the chickens and other birds. Blew their cover. So they may help sometimes, but our crows and hawks coexist too.

Besides adding bushes, I'm sorry I couldn't be more help. I've used a large tractor with a chicken wire top that I could move around, but the chickens would rather be free to range. I'll watch this thread to see if others have any more helpful advice.
Same here! Red tail hawk chased my full grown hens through a thick and huge rose bush and only quit when we went outside. Shrubs, decks, lawn furniture has aided my hens and the cottontails evade them. Red tails are territorial and tend to stay in a home area. Swanson and sharp shinned hawks don't seem interested in hens but I never have chicks. Owls do try to get into coop and have waited around way past daylight. Just be aware and provide some cover will aid you very well.
 
Coopers Hawks are small, what you describe sounds like red-tail. They are very large (in some cases) whereas Coopers prefer to hunt from bushes or very low tree branches. Also Coopers have very white underbellies and wings.

I would encourage your murders with whole corn. Until the threat has subsided, I would only allow supervised free range. Border Collies are herding not LGDs. Do not expect protection behaviors, you may be severely disapointed.
 

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