Hawk or Owl took one


In the Brooder
11 Years
Aug 14, 2008
I have a flock of mostly cockerels. They are all dark cornish and are 4.5 weeks old. All but one of the cockerels will be in the freezer by 20 or so weeks. I began free ranging them the other day and day before yesterday I was setting some rat traps under my house when I heard the birds chirping loudly. When I looked over I saw a rather large bird fly away from the coop area and I could hear the victim chirping into the distance. I'm pretty sure it was a hawk or maybe even an owl. It was approaching sunset. My primary concern with this new project (it's a new house and I haven't done birds here yet) were ground predators (dogs, coyotes, etc.) and that's why I chose dark cornish because of their reputation as being feisty toward predators and their ability to protect themselves well. When is a good age to begin freeranging this breed? Should I have waited til when they are older and bigger. I mistook these birds to be 6 weeks of age probably because they are already getting pretty big but just before I posted this I double checked and realized that are just over a month old. For now they are back in the coop until I decide what to do. Any advice would be appreciated
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Sadly enough and especially this time of year when hawks are migrating, free-ranged poultry are always at risk from aerial predators. Hawks and Great Horned owlswill kill birds that are much larger than themselves. They will kill them and eat them right in your pen. Try to provide hiding places that the birds can duck into or under to escape aerial predators.
Thanks you for your reply. These birds are pretty stealthy. Most of them took really good cover during the incident. When I approached the coop they were all gone I thought they were in their huddle box in the coop but they were all frozen in the bushes being totally silent. It wasn't until they saw me that they relaxed and started coming out of their hiding places. I'm hoping once they get bigger they will be fast enough to evade prey from the sky. I will give some thought to some hiding places. I do indeed remember driving by some chicken farms in central america where there were tons of little shelters scattered about the yards and have wondered what they were for. Hiding places for the chickens?
I have some built in cover with my free range setting. Required the loss of a chick to Coopers Hawk before chicks took game seriously and respond more quickly. Your cornish and somme chicken breeds in general as chicks are no match for a hawk despite being known for scrappy attitude. They must have adequate cover and use it. I would not doubt folks in Central America provide extra cover. I do it and losses to hawks almost stopped despite continued pressure. Effective cover not always compliments the ideal yard. Adult roosters also add to risks for hawk if latter must linger long on ground.

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