How long too keep the ladies couped up

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by 15chxinTX, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. 15chxinTX

    15chxinTX Out Of The Brooder

    Last Thursday morning around 10:00 we had our first hawk attack since we have had chickens (3 years). Unfortunately it got our only banty EE. I scared it off and got all our other 18 ladies in the coup. It didn't take her off but later I saw it sitting on the fence. We have about 3/4 an acre fenced with privacy fence for them to free range in but since Thrusday they have been in their coup. We haven't seen any sign of the hawk since. How long should we coup them up before letting them back out? The remaining 18 are primaryly full size EEs, with 4 Buffs, 1 Barred Rock, 1 Gold Wing and 2 Morans. They really want to be outside but we haven't let them out except right around 4:30 when we can be out with them before they go up for the night. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
  2. ColbyNTX

    ColbyNTX Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2009
    Woods, TX
    It's hard to say. You could let them out and it could happen today or not for another 3 years. I had a hawk rip the throat out of a guinea last week. First time in years and it hasn't killed again. It did fly by the next day and the guineas ran under the yopon bushes and the turkeys to the barn. Make sure you have plenty of hiding places for your birds. They will be leary next time a hawk comes by and hopefully they will learn to run under cover when a hawk is over head.
  3. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

    May 18, 2009
    Hi -

    That's a tough question to answer. It depends on whether or not the risk of free-ranging outweighs watching your chickens being unhappy.

    We have hawk attacks occasionally, usually just the young or small chickens. I will keep the youngsters in their little coop for two or three days after a hawk sighting in hopes that the hawk will decide to go elsewhere. I still lose a young chicken maybe once every couple of months or so.

    We have covered pens and runs, but they love so much to be outside that I usually relent and open the doors. I have mostly Brahmas, and once my chickens get past the teenager stage, the hawks pretty much leave them alone. I have a Jersey Giant hen who, when a hawk landed in front of her once, just puffed up and started growling. The hawk decided there must be easier prey and left!

    In my opinion, my chickens are much happier free-ranging, but there will always be a danger from hawks. Only you can decide if you want to risk it. Good luck!
  4. mgw

    mgw Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
    Eastern Wa.
    You need to set up some kind of cover for them to hide under if they feel a threat. keeping them cooped to long could lead to problems like picking. Sorry to hear of your loss, it is a chance you take when free ranging.
  5. riverman

    riverman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2010
    Central Tx
    You 3 are all right, I just wanted to pitch in my thoughts [​IMG]

    More cover for your birds to hide under is a must if they have nothing now. Hawks are a pest(work on 4500 strong pasture-raised/free-roaming chicken farm and I see some intense attacks) but they are mystical, wonderful beings that have a right to be here just as much as we do. A lot of chicken farmers get out the shotgun, I believe an occasional "giving to the spirits" is acceptable though. [​IMG]

    Just show your self out-side and around your chickens when there's a hawk around and let them know your around. They know there's much more food around and give up shortly, most times lol

    One more thing, always keep one of your larger, more aggressive chickens around your free roamers, like Sjisty said, they'll scare them off if the hawk is small enough. .

    Good Luck!
  6. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    I stand outside with my hens and tend to their coop while they do their thing outside the coop.So I would recommend letting them out for as long as you can stand being outside with them.I generally do a half hour am and pm.I am building a better run in the spring,but will still be outside.Our hawk attacked while I was 20 or so feet away locking the gate.Our hawk often does low fly-bys when ds and I are outside.Guess it is seeing how close he can get without us reacting.
  7. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    If it helps, I have hawks nesting maybe 200' from my coop. There's a pasture on the other side of the hawks, and plenty of rats, mice, rabbits, even feral cats and who knows what else around. I've actually never seen one attack a chicken. Even my babies go outside, but stay close to cover. Now and then a hawk does a fly-over but always moves on. I feel there's just enough easier prey for them around here. And the chickens forage near cover, or run from one cover to another; they're obviously very aware of hawks. There are also often crows around, which keep the hawks quite busy. From the way it works around here, I don't think a hawk's meal of choice is chicken.

    If you do and can have a roo, that definitely helps. No one mentioned hanging old CD's, which used to be discussed a lot on here. Evidently if they are horizontal and can move a little in the breeze, the moving shine tends to deter hawks.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2010

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