Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by BethLeopard, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. BethLeopard

    BethLeopard In the Brooder

    We have had a successful coop situation for 2 years now. My chickens have a small free range area and are secured in a hutch each evening. Recently, a hawk killed one of our chickens. We believe he made another attempt today. My chickens will not come out from the hutch area. Is there anything I can do? Why did it take 2 yrs. for the discovery? Will my rooster protect the hens?
  2. kateseidel

    kateseidel Songster

    Jan 9, 2010
    BethLeopard - so sorry to hear of your loss. I love my hens, each and every one, and losing one causes me tremendous grief and guilt.

    I am, however, pretty grim about the inevitably of loss to hawks - having lost way too many. We did not find having a rooster did ANYTHING to stop the hawks, and he was a big, aggressive boy. He was just outclassed by even our little Cooper's Hawks. If our hens would stay around the dogs or horses, or us (when we are outside), they would be fine. But they are chickens and they scatter about. Depending on your hawk, even cover is not enough. Our Cooper's will hit a hen, she'll dive for cover, and they go right in after her.

    I have learned (after a few years and a LOT of grief), that the decision between free ranging hen loss vs. locked up surviving hens is a difficult one. For now, the ladies get about 6-8 hours a day free ranging on 7 acres, and they spend the rest of their time in our Fort Knox of a coop / run. And I ask forgiveness for the ones who don't make it...

    If it is possible for you to roof in your "free-range" area with some kind of fencing, do it!! Once a hawk has made a kill, they will definitely hang around for a good week or so trying again. They seem to move on after that, but for us, they eventually come back (we are in a migratory pattern).

    1 person likes this.
  3. BethLeopard

    BethLeopard In the Brooder

    Thank you so much for the input. I am trying to come up with a "cover" as mentioned. My children are so devastated and so am I when we lose one. They are all hand raised and we hold all of them often!
  4. juliejmt12

    juliejmt12 In the Brooder

    May 5, 2014
    I lost a hen today to a hawk. From what we can determine from the blood trail, it hit her outside and then she either ran into the coop to escape it and it followed or it took her into the coop. My husband actually lifted up the hatch and caught the hawk in mid lunch. Needless to say, the girls are on lock down until I can string some fishing line over the run area which is roughly the size of a large dog kennel. The hawk has been back every 10 minutes if not less trying to finish his meal. At one point I got within 3 feet of it before it flew off, then about an hour later it landed in the run and was trying to figure a way in. I had already reinforced everything and there was no way it was getting in. I'm just shocked that it is so bold.
  5. gallusdomesticus

    gallusdomesticus Songster

    Nov 14, 2008
    Lynn Haven, FL
    I too am shocked Hawks are so bold. I let my girls out of their pen to free range in the backyard when I get home from work. I thought that being out there with them would deter any hawks but I was wrong. Hawks (in my case Cooper's Hawks) are A level predators and once they see a potential meal, they get so boresighted on their victim, they don't see/pay attention to anything else. I had one swoop down on one of my birds when I was only a few steps away. I still let them out to free range but I am like the old rooster, always looking around for any hawks.
  6. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    My girls have been on lockdown since about 2 weeks ago when I spotted a red tailed hawk watching them. I figured it was safe to let them have a couple of hours out today. Well, wouldn't you know I spotted that darn hawk watching them! I haven't seen it for days yet within an hour of letting them out it's back. I'm buying some netting online tonight. Anyone have any brand recommendations?
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015
  7. blueridgefarmer

    blueridgefarmer In the Brooder

    Oct 16, 2014
    I have been reading everyone posts and want your opinion. I have 30 chickens that free range and 5(well now 4) Turkeys....two of the turkeys are full grown toms, the others are smaller, only about 6 months....well a few weeks ago 4 chickens vanished over a week period...no feathers, no blood no carnage, we do have the acre fenced with electric wire on top and bottom, well within the last 24 hours one of my turkeys is missing also. I know it is not a raccoon, possum, fox, or other predator like that (I raise bluetick hounds and their area backs up to the chicken and turkey area for protection. Now my question is ...Do hawks or owls swoop and carry away?
  8. chixmaidservice

    chixmaidservice Chirping

    Oct 13, 2013
    My coop has been on raptor lockdown since New Years Eve when I lost 2. I am sure that we will continue indefinitely, as my elderly neighbor likes to feed the "crows" and more often than not the crows get chased off by the hawks. Hopefully she will cease and desist w/ the buffet when spring comes... if not my hens will bear this cross until her relatives cart her off to a nursing home. I enjoyed Kateseidels views and may try to bring myself to the "acceptable losses for free ranging benefits" viewpoint this spring. I have been taking my lapses of hen protection very personally- and it is possible that I can turn it around and convince myself that chickens are just born to be prey, and if I want them to enjoy a natural life of grass, weeds, bugs and wandering, the inevitable hawk strike is part and parcel too. At least my fencing and uber fortified coop keep them safe from all but the flying villains.
  9. juliejmt12

    juliejmt12 In the Brooder

    May 5, 2014
    As it turns out it was a Cooper's Hawk that got my first chicken. The next day is snowed all day so it didn't come around. On Thursday I saw it sitting on my fence and coop again. My Jack Russell chased it away once and my Doberman a second time. I thought I had taken good enough precautions to keep my girls safe long enough to get mesh to put over the coop. I WAS WRONG! I was maybe gone an hour and that jerk found a 4 inch by 4 inch hole and got INSIDE of the coop. It didn't make another kill but she is pretty tore up. I took her out and have her in Brahma ICU right now. To tell you the truth, I am shocked she made it through the weekend. As long as she is eating, drinking and healing I am going to let her make the decision as to whether to put her down. The funny thing is that she is so cuddly now.
  10. Rocky64

    Rocky64 Chirping

    Jan 25, 2015
    Careful with your jack russell, hawks have been known to kill and eat smallish dogs

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