Hawks and possums and dogs, oh my!


8 Years
Jan 18, 2012
Oh. My. Goodness. For the first year of raising chickens we didn't have hardly any predator problems. August of 2012 we had a huge dog attack where a pack of 5 or so dogs came and ripped up almost all of our chickens, and ever since them, predator problems like CRAZY! It's like they went around and told the entire neighborhood that we had big tasty chicken nuggets walking around our yard and to go check it out. Something got in and killed and ate out rabbit and killed my favorite duck but just left her lying there and few months back. I've been finding bodies occasionally with just the head, wings and legs left. Sometimes a whole bird turns up missing, sometimes there are partially eaten eggs laying on the floor of the coop. I knew I had multiple predator problems. We are going to work this weekend to get a run added to our coop so we can get our birds penned up. But in the meantime?

Monday I was out cleaning the coop when all my birds screamed and ran for cover. I looked over to see a hawk perched on the fence. I ran over to shoo him away and he just looked dead at me. I was almost close enough to touch him before he flew away to a nearby tree. I resumed work and kept my eyes peeled for him. My chickens ventured out again and not 5 minuted later one of my hens screamed and ran to me. I followed where she had come from to find him again, perched on the fence. I shooed him away and he went to fly away, but changed course when he saw my bantam hen and her babies helping themselves to my neighbors yard. (They are always over there. I can't keep them in out yard. Another reason we are penning them in. Thankfully they are family friends, so they are gracious about it.) He swooped down and picked up my bantam hen. She was just able to escape his grip and fell to the ground and ran for cover. She's fine now and I brought them into my yard (yet again). But they were back over there yesterday and some neighbor dogs took off with her biggest baby. We can't fault the owner's of the dogs for this one because our birds were not in our yard at the time.

So Monday night (after the repeated hawk attacks) my mom and I were coming home. It was dark and out headlights just happened to land on a possum coming down from our (thankfully locked) coop, empty-handed. He saw us and ran up a tree. I got my dad who came out and took care of him.

He was kinda cute until I zoomed in. Who could feel bad for something with these teeth?

Well, any suggestions, especially for the hawk would be greatly appreciated. I don't have the space the keep my birds locked up until the run is built, which will hopefully be very, very soon. We are supervising them as often as possible, bringing them back into our yard when we notice they have left, I'm letting my dog roam the back field where the chickens are (all fenced in, by the way) to try to help deter predators, though she wouldn't actually hurt them. All gates in and out of the property stay closed, there is a motion light outside the coop so if something walks in front of it at night hopefully it will scare it away. I don't know what else to do until we get them locked up.
Even though you have a dog, you may want to consider getting a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) - something that will actually chase off, and, if necessary, attack predators. We also live in Texas and free range our birds, and although our chickens have not been hurt by predators, we've lost a guinea this year to a hawk, and another to what we are almost certain was a possum. Since getting our current LGD, the predator situation is minimal.

He's an adult Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd mix, so he's big enough that barking and growling keeps most predators at bay, but he'll go after them if he needs to. We got him to guard our goats, and he usually stays in the goat field, but he took off after a skunk that was trying to get into the chicken coop the other day. Fortunately, my husband came out and took care of the issue and we avoided having a dog drenched in skunk stink, but I was glad to know the dog was ready to act even if we weren't there. Livestock Guardians are fantastic!

You might also want to consider poultry netting for your run if the hawks are persistent.
We started building the run this weekend. We are going to cover it with chicken wire, hardware cloth, and poultry netting. (not all of them all over, but a combination of all three.)
As much as I'd love one I can't get an LGD because this is my parents' house, my mom doesn't do dogs, and I'll be moving next year. Maggie does a decent job of scaring off daytime predators, but she's a big baby. No way would she go after more than a mole at night. And she can't scare off the hawk. *I* can't ever scare that blasted hawk. I guess the best this at this point will be to just be to get the run built as quickly as we can.
Thanks for your response!
Boy that sounds rough. Those chickens might get a case of p.t.s.d. By the time it's over! I've got a fair share of predators to deal with too. Hawks, eagles, bear, coyotes, dogs, coons, and opossum. Right now they have a completely fenced run along with close run electric fence around the outside. It's working. I'm using a solar fence charger since there is no power to my coop.

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