Hawks and Chickens....ideas?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jed1154, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. jed1154

    jed1154 Songster

    Jul 10, 2008
    Ok, so i moved out to a country home, i have 20 acres of heavily wooded land. The trees are very tall and very dense. I have squirrels all over the place. I have not seen any hawks take any squirrels, but i have seen an owl make a pretty good attempt at it.

    I would like to get back into having chickens, i had them as a kid and showed them. Im somewhat (very) concerned that after i get them out, they are going to get killed off by hawks. I am going to build a nice coop, but i do NOT wish to keep the birds caged. Id like them to come and go as they please. Is there anything i can do at all, aside from completely caging and covering the birds, that might help? I dont know if i have hawks in my trees. I have hawks across the road where there is a grass farm, and on some days, the hawks sit on the open grass and you can count no less than 40 of them, so they are definately there, and im pretty sure once i get chickens, they are going to be in teh mood for them.

    Im a bit of a different owner than some here, these birds are for eggs...they arent pets, they arent friends, they are workers (ok, to the wife, they are pets). My main concern here is loss of investment. Like everyone else, i don't want to replace bird after bird after bird. I like riasing them from chicks and that takes a bit of time, effort, and money to have a predatory bird destroy it in .23 seconds. Anything i can do to keep them protected would be great. Ive read that roosters will act as an early warning system in some case, but i dont know if thats really true.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  2. CUDA

    CUDA Songster

    Mar 4, 2008
    I would advise a coop, with a large run covered in netting. I have pens large enough that the birds can have all kinds of room to roam around, and you can comfortably walk into the pen, for the pet factor...lol, and they will be plenty happy. You will have to worry more about coons, and other predators than you will hawks though, unless you have an unusually high hawk population. Good luck!
  3. brookwoodpat

    brookwoodpat Songster

    May 11, 2008
    Well, I am new to chickens, but I have an acre fenced, and it is wooded and brushed on two sides. I have yarded my 12 week old chicks (10 of them) for the last six weeks and have had no losses. In the beginning, I saw red tails, who were attracted to the sight of the chickens hanging out in the covered pen attached to their coop before I let them out in the morning. But they seem to have given up, because I haven't seen any for a few weeks. The chickens simply stay under cover most of the time and roam freely throughout the yard for 12-14 hours a day, roosting under dense shrubs and deep evergreens. I've yarded five six week old chicks for the last week as well with no losses. It's risky, of course, and I don't know how well it will work in the fall, when there is less cover -- I expect I'll put up a larger pen then, perhaps. But so far, I haven't lost any. If there is good cover the chicks stay under it and seem very comfortable -- perhaps more so than in a pen with a wired but psychologically exposed roof. I think if your cover is good and heavy enough (and your yard is fenced against ground predators like dogs and daytime racoons, foxes, etc) you might have a good chicken habitat. Maybe what I'm doing is wrong, but I hated to see them stuck in a little pen if they could stay safe themselves -- and so far, they have done it.

    I'm wondering about you having 40 hawks -- hawks are predators and have a territory, so at the most you generally see a family group - not forty. Now you will see 40 turkey vultures , but they don't eat live meat.
  4. diannawilliamson

    diannawilliamson Hatching

    Jul 9, 2008
    I had about 40 chicks fenced in front of a mobile chicken coop. The hawk flew in and got one. The chicks learned to watch for the hawk and would run into the coop when ever alerted about danger overhead. I then purchased mesh that you would cover a fruit tree with and covered the top of the fence until the chickens were old enough and large enough to free range. We still have hawks, but its funny. They learned to watch overhead and the crows, blue jays and the chickens seem to communicate to each other concerning the where abouts of the hawk, especially when it is on the prowl. They will hide under bushes, near the house and I haven't had another problem yet.
    Couple years ago, I believe I had problems with a large hawk because I lost my large Rhode Island Red rooster to a predator that did not carry it off which told me that it was probably a hawk that got shoo'd away before it finished it's meal. The whole rooster was still there and gave a pretty good fight until the end protecting the hens. (His name was Big Red).
    Your going to lose some whether it's to illness, predators, or undefined issues, but if you think like a predator, sometimes you can figure out ways to stop them.
  5. kinnip

    kinnip Songster

    Feb 24, 2008
    Carrollton, GA
    My situation hasn't been put to the test yet, but I think it'll work out. We do have red tails here, but we also have lots of beech trees. I put the run under a large beech. Beech trees don't lose all of their leaves during winter and they have some pretty aggressive branches. There are a lot of open spaces around this area, just not on my property. I think a hawk would pass up dodging limbs when he can go 1/4 mile down the street and have a smorgasbord.
  6. TheKidAndDame

    TheKidAndDame Songster

    Aug 11, 2007
    Gator Nation, FL
    I live close to a state park and we have plenty of red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks nearby. They often perch in some of the tall pines that overlook my house. I have seen them in the front and back yards, even had one swoop down on my head one morning. Still, my (mostly) free ranging chickens have lucked out so far. It has been a year with my open setup and no losses. That is probably due in part to the tree cover. I don't expect to be living in harmony with them for forever, but I am not going to change my set up if something does happen.
  7. drumstyx

    drumstyx In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2008
    My run has an open top which I used the yellow caution construction ribbon zig zagged all over the top. I do plan on putting wire or mesh up before the snow hits, but so far it has kept the predators out. It's pretty bright and ugly but along with the flapping in the wind it has done a great job for a quick fix.
  8. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady

    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    We have hawks and my chickens free range in an open area in front of the barn. The hawks have flown over but seem more attracted to catching the song birds that come to my feeders.
    I know so far we have been lucky but I have chickens as large as or larger than our hawks. The chicks are another story.
    You can't have chickens without some losses but prevention is best. Lots of cover for the chickens and some good protective roos! We have an old truck and the steps into the tack room, even an old large wheelbarrow they hide under.
    Some say bushes help but we saw a hawk fly into a large rosebush the other day and get a baby bird out while the mockingbirds squawked the entire time. Only fences can help keep the hawks out but I like my chickens to free range.
  9. chickenboy 101

    chickenboy 101 In the Brooder

    Jul 11, 2008
    the best way i found is let the chickens out at 1:00 because hawks eat early like 8:00
  10. Salt and Light

    Salt and Light Songster

    May 20, 2008
    Osteen, FL
    Gosh, I was just noticing that I hear and see hawks in the AM, but not the PM. Well, at least not yet. I wonder what they are doing in the PM.

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