Our chicken killer is an owl!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by JustOneMore, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. JustOneMore

    JustOneMore Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have lost 4 hens in the past 6 weeks. Not a huge number in our large yard ranging flock that used to be 25, but since they're pets as well as layers, each loss has been tough to accept.

    At first we thought it was our cat taking the hens down since minimal meat was harvested each time (always only from the hen's back) AND each time the bodies have been found in the yard, close to the fence. We thought the hens were too heavy for the cat to carry over. Hence, Dupree has had his yard time limited and we've harrassed him any time he's gotten near the hen yard.

    Yesterday, around 11 am, I heard a ruckus out back and saw something large and grey-ish flying over the hen yard when I opened the back door yelling. The hens eventually came out from their cover and shortly afterward I heard Muffy let out another warning call. The hens raced for cover. Sure enough there was a barred owl in a tree not far from the hen yard. I took out the pellet gun to scare it off. I had no delusion that I would actually hit the owl, but it did make a large noise AND made some racket as the pellet bounced off the tree it DID hit. It did fly off. I am very respectful of wildlife but judging by the rabbit tracks in the front yard, there's no shortage of meals out there for him. Granted, he now knows that our hens are easy picking. [​IMG]

    I understand that netting would be an ideal cover but I am not sure that we could find any that would adequately protect a 200 x 400 yard AND stay up in the heavy snows we get in upstate NY. Plus, I'm not sure where I could get some TODAY locally!

    I have been looking at other posts on BYC and saw suggestions for stringing fishing line across open areas. How far apart should we put the lines?

    Thank you in advance for any assistance.
  2. Talihofarms

    Talihofarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 4, 2010
    I have had lots of run ins with Great Horned owls. My method is simple. We keep the birds in lock down at night. Otherwise you must cover the complete run. Covered with heavy game netting. Not cheap but we haven't had to replace it in 7 years. We are in the midwest and have very heavy snow falls. The trick is to keep the nettting tight on the canopy. That helps in preventing sagging and build up of ice/snow.

    just my .02

    Good Luck
  3. chickensrfood

    chickensrfood Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 24, 2010
    Do you have a secure coop they can go inside before dusk? That would make things much easier.
  4. panner123

    panner123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    String some old CD's around the yard. As the wind blows them, the reflection keeps the flying predators away. Has worked for me for years. Only once in many years have I had an aerial attack. I would lose about 30 per year up until I statred useing the CD's.
  5. JustOneMore

    JustOneMore Chillin' With My Peeps

    chickensrfood: All of our attacks have been in the yard in the late morning (10-11am). Our girls do go in for evening lockup each night.

    Chicken Obsessed: I will absolutely hang out CDs. This sounds like a really EASY solution! Hoping your luck with it carries over to our yard too!

    Thanks again to everyone who responded!

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