Need Predator Deterrent Advice

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jmcoburn, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. jmcoburn

    jmcoburn Just Hatched

    20
    1
    14
    Dec 29, 2016
    Glenmoore, PA
    I have free range chickens who are locked in coop at night. The coop is secure and in the winter it goes in the bank barn for extra security and space. I had a hawk kill my favorite easter egger on Christmas day...she had a tendency to wander from the rooster occasionally though.
    I am new to chickens but have had some experience in the past with other people's chickens. I have been just getting set up the past couple weeks and need some advice on predator deterrents.
    On my list is an owl decoy and some ceramic chickens. I now that with free ranging i will occasionally have losses but wanted to see what was available out there that works for some experienced chickeners.
    A little background as to the terrain. I have about 6acres of land, some wooded and some open and neighboring is a 500 acre park across the street and 2 farms on either side. The chickens mainly stick to the shrubbery and the barn but occasionally graze in the open yard by the barn.
    I've had them about 2 months and this is the first attack.
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    18,046
    2,791
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    This time of year the roosters are not reliable for me. The roosters are not protecting the hens directly, rather their reproductive investment in the form of offspring. Once you see the harems setup where rooster and hens move about together more tightly then you have the potential for protection. If hawk bigger customer like a Red-tailed Hawk or Goshawk the chickens need cover patches to prevail and those need to be more abundant that most people like in a yard. Cover patches I have this time of year not as effective as they do not also break line of sight on the chickens when the hawk is above. Electrified poultry netting can help if it is close to cover patches and chickens stay in the cover patches. The netting need not be hot to work in that capacity.

    Effective system I have involves the roosters, cover patches, some netting and dogs that go after hawks when chickens riled. Feeders also placed near cover patches to reduce time birds spend feeding while exposed.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    912
    185
    146
    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    Welcome to BYC and sorry for your loss, I started out free ranging when I first got chickens, and you will have losses. After losing 1-2 chickens, ducks and guineas a month. I decided to pen in a half acre with electric net fence from Premier1supplies.com. Best move I made for my chickens. I went from 1-2 losses a month to 0 losses in 3 years. For any chicken yard, you want to give your chickens places to hide and run to when a threat is near. Chickens were originally woodland birds, as this gives them the most places to hide, and provides an abundance of bugs and food. Open fields of grassland may look nice for them, but it leaves them very exposed to predators with no place to go. So you want bushes and shrubs all over so they have places to hide when needed. They also like the shade in the summer and will often lay under a bush to keep cool. Consider getting a rooster. The rooster's #2 job is protecting the hens. We all know what his #1 job is! My rooster keeps a sharp eye out for problems, and will call the hens back into the coop whenever a hawk or eagle comes around. A rooster is not a deterrent against large land predators, he will most likely end up giving his life trying to save his girls.

    You live in PA, so you have plenty of predators - coyotes, bears, foxes, mountain lions, bobcats, raccoons, dogs, hawks, falcons and eagles just to name a few. Having a large dog around will help keep some of the predators at bay. Of course you have to make sure your own dog does not become a chicken predator! I would make sure you have a secure coop and a secure pen you can keep them in for when predators do show up. If they do get a chicken, they will definitely be back, so you need a safe place to keep them for a week or so.

    Good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,184
    260
    211
    Jul 18, 2013
    Pennsylvania
    X2 In the past, when I had large fowl chickens only we would see hawks watching but never come down. It seems hawks go after only the smaller chickens, leaving the larger ones alone, something to consider when choosing your breeds. They go after the juveniles or I have had a few bantams picked off, one even carried away. Thankfully hawks aren't the most efficient predator.
     
  5. jmcoburn

    jmcoburn Just Hatched

    20
    1
    14
    Dec 29, 2016
    Glenmoore, PA
    I have a 100 lb American bulldog that keeps most of the land predators away. He is great with the chickens, awesome farm dog. The rooster is pretty watchful over them but it's just him and one hen now. Possibly getting 2 more Tomorrow. I've got lots of cover for them but I was thinking maybe there might be some products I could get that might help. I rent so cannot build permanent enclosure.
    For cover they have a deck, a table, bank barn, overhang, horse trailer, garage port and woods.
    The hawk was out hunting yesterday but I was out with the dogs and they were in the woods. I just hung around until it left. Looks like a red tail.
     
  6. jmcoburn

    jmcoburn Just Hatched

    20
    1
    14
    Dec 29, 2016
    Glenmoore, PA
    Daisy was a big girl, assuming that's why she didn't get carried off? It just killed her and flew away.She was the biggest of the flock.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    18,046
    2,791
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri

    You are not describing cover to me with exception of horse trailer and possibly deck. Cover will deny hawk's approach from air. Electrified poultry netting is easy to move about and is far from being a permanent enclosure. See link to suppliers below.

    http://www.kencove.com/

    https://www.premier1supplies.com/c/poultry-supplies/

    You can periodically move the netting about allowing land to rest from poultry foraging. You can also keep birds closer to dog where hawk will not want to venture. Dog may be a dead head when it comes to chickens which means he may not come to their aid even though he does them no harm.


    Hawk not eating bird it killed indicates something disturbed hawk so it did not get reward for effort. Reward needed to drive repeated attacks.
     
  8. chelsiemom

    chelsiemom Chillin' With My Peeps

    98
    8
    66
    Sep 9, 2016
    Yucaipa, CA
    mypetchicken.com sells a devise called solar night eyes, which simulates eye shine/glow at night supposed to scare off predators. Sounds interesting...anyone tried anything like this? Is it a waste of $20?
     
  9. jmcoburn

    jmcoburn Just Hatched

    20
    1
    14
    Dec 29, 2016
    Glenmoore, PA
    Interesting. I'd like to hear as well if anyone tried it. Might be worth a try!
     
  10. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    912
    185
    146
    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    Devices like this work for a while, as it is something new and strange. But eventually the predators wise up and realize it is not a threat to them. Same thing with motion sensor lights etc. The first time the light comes on, the animal scampers away. After a while, they get used to it and keep doing what they were doing.

    I used to let my birds free range while I mowed the lawn with my lawn tractor. It makes a lot of noise etc and will keep predators away. Imagine my surprise when I lost a chicken while I was moving 50 feet away. I'm sure it scared them for a while, but eventually they realize a threat vs non-threat and decided me on my lawn mower was not a threat.

    Electric net fence is not permanent. I can put it in or take it out in about 10 minutes. It has metal spikes that you step on to drive the post 6" into the ground. It won't stop hawks and other birds, but pretty much takes care of all 4 legged predators. If birds are your major problem, you can set up posts and run yarn or fish line all around over the chicken yard. Make it so hawks can't easily fly in and fly out. They will be much more reluctant to land if they can't get in and out quickly.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by