New and need assistance

cdm.ily

In the Brooder
Mar 5, 2018
2
7
17
Texas
I've had buff orpingtons in the past when I live in Arizona and had no issues keeping them alive. I've lived in Texas now for about 8 years and decided recently to try my luck and chickens here. My first big issue was a hawk (presumably) attacking and killing 2 of my 6 of my hens (ameraucana and barred rock) in January while they were out in their enclosed yard during the day. I live in a moderately wooded area in Magnolia, TX. Needless to say I am having PTSD about letting them out of their coop why I am not there.

Just yesterday I put deer netting over 95% of the fenced area and zip-tied everything for extra support and well as ran white nylon braided rope in zig-zags over much of it as well. With the exception of an 6 sqft area at the entrance to the run and the entrance to the coop, everything else is completely covered. Do anyone have any suggestions or hesitations with my plan so far? I love my girls and the one buff Brahma bantam rooster I have left and would be devastated if something else were to happen. I just want them to be safe and live a life of leisure. Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated.
 

Foster's Freehold

Songster
8 Years
Jun 7, 2013
350
459
202
South Central KY
Were there lots of feathers at the kill site? Or just heads ripped off? If it was a hawk, there would usually be lots of feathers, if not, might be one of the four legged varmints. This will help you target preventative measures.

The deer net and twine will help deter flying predators. You can hang old cd's, aluminum pie tins, any shiny object, from the netting that helps deter them too.
 

21hens-incharge

Moderator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Mar 9, 2014
28,212
116,140
1,742
Northern Colorado
Personally my runs are covered in wire to keep coons, hawks, neighborhood cats and fox out.
Netting and twine only keep fliers at bay.
You said there is an area not covered. Hawks will find that and use it.

Now I am in town so have even less predators BUT I still have them.

Do my birds get to roam the yard? Yes, but ONLY when I can be there 100% of the time watching.
Why so cautious?
Because I had them out so I could take the coop door off to make an adjustment and a hawk came down on top of my Delaware hen.
It actually was ON her. Had I not been there to react quickly I would have lost her and maybe others.

I have had a fox trying to get in the run on a Sunday morning. Again I was home so could intervene. The wire kept it out but they were terrified.

I also see coon paw prints in the dust on my big windows. Again the wire keeps them out.
The big windows open flat to the run roof awning style. It is clear they are standing on them.
 

bruceha2000

Addict
10 Years
Apr 19, 2012
18,493
81,509
1,322
NW Vermont
:welcome @cdm.ily

Sorry your first post had to be about losing chickens :(

You said there is an area not covered. Hawks will find that and use it.
I agree. Some while back, maybe even a couple of years, someone posted a video of a hawk not only finding a SMALL opening in the covering of the run but boldly walking into the coop and coming out with a full grown chicken. Of course all the chickens in the run were having panic attacks.

Coons climb really well, if a hawk doesn't find the uncovered area, a coon might. They also aren't active only at night or dusk. I had one going into my coop a couple of hours before sunset a couple of summers ago. It didn't get the hen that was in the broody buster cage recovering from an illness and it didn't get a chance to ever try to go after another chicken. But it sure put me on notice that what I thought to be true about when they were out hunting was WRONG.
 

thudson

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Apr 2, 2013
440
1,185
286
Gatesville Texas
:welcomeWelcome to our flock. Thanks for joining us. Now for the problem. I live in Texas myself and hawks are common problems here. Sounds like you are working on it. So I will suggest a few things that might help and they do for me and my flock of 20 plus my Dad's flock of 25. Myself, I completely enclosed my chicken run and coop in chicken wire, both of them. That way the hawks can't get to them, plus I have flashy windchimes on each corner of my coop that keeps them from even trying to get in my coops. Now my dad does his a little more traditional. His coop and chicken runs are enclosed in wire but he lets his chickens free range for a few hours each day in the pasture. He opens it up from about 11am to 2pm so they free range in peak light times. He has them trained on this time so they are all back in the wire by 2pm. He very rarely loses one to a hawk doing this. Plus he runs guinea fowl with his and they alert him to All predators or strangers. So I hope this helps you. The best thing to do is keep them covered in wire overhead. So good luck, be glad to help anytime if you need it. Once again Welcome to the flock!
 

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