How do I keep my free ranging Guinea hens safe from hawks?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by 1876 Farm, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. 1876 Farm

    1876 Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a flock of Guinea hens that is slowing being eaten by hawks. Every couple of days the hawk comes and attacks one of my hens. My Guinea hens are free range and I want to leave it that way, they help to rid my yard of ticks and other unwanted bugs (i.e. the # of japanese beetles in my yard has significantly declined since I have gotten my Guineas.

    What can I do to keep my Guineas safe while free ranging?
     
  2. txnative

    txnative Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're going to have to stand out there and actively protect them. There's really no way to truly free range and not have casualties.
     
  3. Big Bubba

    Big Bubba Out Of The Brooder

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    Seeing a hawk come down on my girls and then looking it the issue more closely, I've got to agree. The only possible other way to safely free range them is if you have a really good dog. I would imagine there is a breed particularly good at this. What breed? I have no idea. I'm not sure what good my dog would do and, thus, my girls only go out when I'm present.
     
  4. Primo

    Primo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just started free ranging my chickens this week for the first time. Today I heard the hawk call and saw it circling above. The chickens were under a large pecan tree so he did not see them. It is only a matter of time. At the same time this week I also allowed my dog to roam around with the chickens to make sure he would be ok with them (he was already used to them from the run). He is an American pit bull, very agile. (ya , I know hawks circling above and pit bull running around, recipe for disaster in chickenville ha ha!) So far my dog is fine with the chickens. So after giving all this some thought today I am only going to let the chickens out in the afternoon when I am home and also let my dog out with them. I will closely supervise this for the next several weeks until I am completely confident the dog will be ok with them. I have a hard time believing a hawk will take the risk with a dog present and close, if he does it will probably be a one time mistake.
    It's a risk reward situation and I am going to try to make it work. In the few days I have let them free range I have already seen an improvement in the quality of the eggs, the chickens behavior and less feed consumed. So if in the next few weeks the hawk kills the chickens and my dog helped him do it , than so be it. I will start over.
     
  5. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: Cross your fingers
    Otherwise they are on their own when not confined
     
  6. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: The hawk won't care about the dog enough to make a real difference.

    The dog isn't going to be close enough to the birds all the time, nor active enough all the time, to be a real deterrent

    It will just wait for that instant when things are perfect for a strike
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  7. 1876 Farm

    1876 Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is not good news. :-( I had read that hawks will move on after a few weeks, but I truely doubt that when there is free and easy to catch food running around. The idea of cooping them in while not around is an idea that I will have to think about, I just know how unhappy they are cooped up, they love to be out foraging.

    A dog is a good idea. I thought of a Great Pyranees, but I don't think my husband wants something that big. :)

    Has anyone tried those "chicken saddles" on a Guinea hen?
     
  8. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: That wouldn't help at all, and likely would create MORE problems than it would solve.
    You simply cannot "protect" free ranging Guineas.
    They wander too much
     
  9. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agreed. Guineas free range over a large area, and mine went further and further each week! Hopefully they will gain life experience as the grow, and become hawk-wise, but the hawk is also doing the same thing, becoming more guinea wise! If you free range, you will lose birds. Depending on where you live, you may lose a lot of birds. I re-homed by guinea flock when I lost 6 out of 11 in two weeks. I am not going to feed the local predators at will, and I could not keep the guineas locked up forever, so I sold them to a local breeder, and am sticking with my ducks and chickens which I can protect better.
     
  10. 1876 Farm

    1876 Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is our 4th attempt at raising Guinea hens, but our 1st at dealing with a hawk. In the past we would loose a few to predators, probably coyote or a fox, and then they would wander farther and farther way from home as we reached further into fall, until the left. One year a couple of them showed up at the farm around half a mile up the road in the spring... they survived all winter on their own. Perhaps the hawk will migrate south for the winter.
     

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