Natural hawk protection

texas hiker

In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 22, 2009
85
0
41
East Texas
It was probably a year ago I read an article on this website about growing a type of weed or bush that when planted somewhat close together provides a cover for chickens.

I spent the last 30 minutes searching google with all different types of keywords and can not find that article.

My wife and I are getting ready to expand the chicken yard. When it is done we are looking at around 200 X 100 feet. I thought about planting some cover plants around the yard so the chickens can have places to run to if the see a hawk.

Is there a type of shrub I can plant to provide protection? Covering the whole yard with netting is not an option.

Over the past 6 months my wife and I have lost 3 full grown hens and 3 six - eight week old chicks to hawks.

Lost so far:

2 year old Jersey giant, found half eaten
2 year old speckled sussex, disappeared
2 year old Rhode Island Red, disappeared

7 week old barred rock, disappeared, I found just a couple of feathers
7 week old australorp, half eaten
7 week old buff orpington, disappeared

Surely there is some kind of bush, such as a hedge type of plant we can uyse to give the chickens some kind of protection?
 

americaca jtl

In the Brooder
6 Years
Aug 3, 2013
22
0
22
Are you sure that a hawk is the culprit? full grown RIR being carried off is kinda a big bird for a hawk, even a red tailed. Just wondering if its not a fox or coyote that is also contributing to the problem. Normally a hawk will eat where it kills or move a short distance, also they cannot carry more than their own weight so you probably have a predator problem also.
 
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texas hiker

In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 22, 2009
85
0
41
East Texas
Are you sure that a hawk is the culprit? full grown RIR being carried off is kinda a big bird for a hawk, even a red tailed. Just wondering if its not a fox or coyote that is also contributing to the problem. Normally a hawk will eat where it kills or move a short distance, also they cannot carry more than their own weight so you probably have a predator problem also.
A fox or coyote may explain 2 of the missing birds.

Or, the girls went broody and sat on some eggs outside the chicken house.

My girls free range probably 90% of the time. The current yard is small to keep them in there all the time, it is around 75 X 35.

I would like to build a larger yard and keep them confined more often.
 
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Mister B

Songster
6 Years
Feb 7, 2013
488
33
134
NW Alabama
In my pasture, we have a LOT of Chinese Privet. This stuff grows fast and takes over. It has some nice blue berries that birds love in the Fall/Winter. I have a goat in the pasture with the chickens and she keeps it mostly mowed down. It has formed three nice thickets that the chickens hang (hung out in, they were recently killed). Provides shade, forage and protection. Just make sure it stays in the pasture.

 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,048
4,099
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
Is there a type of shrub I can plant to provide protection? Covering the whole yard with netting is not an option.

Over the past 6 months my wife and I have lost 3 full grown hens and 3 six - eight week old chicks to hawks.

Lost so far:

2 year old Jersey giant, found half eaten
2 year old speckled sussex, disappeared
2 year old Rhode Island Red, disappeared

7 week old barred rock, disappeared, I found just a couple of feathers
7 week old australorp, half eaten
7 week old buff orpington, disappeared

Surely there is some kind of bush, such as a hedge type of plant we can uyse to give the chickens some kind of protection?
It may get you a call from the plant police if you plant privet hedge, its a terribly invasive weed. I think new planting of privet hedge is strongly discouraged in most communities maybe up to and including spending time in jail.

There is a yin yang type of thing in chicken keeping. In large lots a hedge may provide some hawk protection but in an open top pen it may also provide cover for four legged Earth bound predators and allow them to put the sneak on your flock. This only means that there are no absolutes. You do your best to provide a proactive defense for your backyard flock, then you pays your money, and takes you chances. Mother nature doesn't give a plug nickel what humans like. If everything goes right everything goes right. If not... well Southern Fried hawk tastes just like chicken!

It appears to me that you may have two or more predators preying on your flock. The three 7 week old chicks are problematic but full sized chickens just going missing is usually the work of a fox, coyote, bobcat, or some other rather large chicken eating vermin. The one full sized chicken you found half eaten is classic hawk as well as the one half eaten chick. Hawks usually can't or don't behave like flying saucers and abduct full grown chickens, even though both hawks and space invades are able to fly.

Were the bones on the one grown half eaten bird still more or less articulated? The reason I asked is because hawks more or less eat chicken like you or I eat corn on the cob, by stripping the meat off the long bones after eating the head.

I did recommend bamboo in a recent post but like all hedges intended for hawk shelters or chicken foxholes, hedges require time to get big enough to work. Even though bamboo can spread, it can't spread like privet hedge or the even more destructive Bradford Pear.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,048
4,099
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
In my pasture, we have a LOT of Chinese Privet. ....It has some nice blue berries that birds love... Just make sure it stays in the pasture.

The problem with Chinese Privet is when those birds you spoke of eat the pretty berries and release the seed in them, maybe miles away to sprout and overwhelm native plants, also some types of Privets are poisonous to honey bees.
 
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chiknhurder

Songster
6 Years
Jan 8, 2014
306
28
103
Cass County Missouri
A hawk can only carry about half its body weight and they way about 2 pounds so they can carry only 1 pound. They typically eat what they can where they kill it and leave the rest if scared off. This is what a hawk did to a 14 week old EE pullet just last week.

 

ComerSmitley

In the Brooder
5 Years
Feb 26, 2014
14
1
31
I've been wanting to get a weeping cherry tree or a weeping mulberry tree, but those maybe bigger than what you have in mind.
If you're a gardener you could try growing vine beans or peas and having them grow on a arched trellis, and creating like a tunnel-effect.
 
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Blammmo

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 28, 2014
95
27
50
MN
We have lilacs and crabapple trees in our pen with a small willow, all of them are pretty tough and hold up to the traffic of the birds, no problems with birds of prey, but we also have 4 African geese in the pen with them. No hawk will risk it...
 

chfite

Songster
8 Years
Jun 7, 2011
2,171
111
214
Taylors, SC
An elderberry will grow rather large in one year, provide good close to the ground cover and berries for the chickens. My chickens like to hang out under mine. There are loropetalum and other plants around for them to use for shelter.

Chris
 

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