Predator Savvy Chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mandelyn, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 30, 2009
    Goshen, OH
    When I had chickens before, they were free range during the day, locked up at night.

    I lost 2 African Crested their first night in quarentine, same quarentine cage, same location, that any other new fowl had used. It was like they stuck their feather filled heads out in offering.

    Lost one Bantam hen to a hawk, she stayed out in the middle of the field, challenged him, lost. All the rest had sought cover under the bushes. She was a mean little thing, killing mice and gardner snakes. Had no fear, was her problem.

    But the rest, they seemed to understand by instinct what to do in what situation. If it came from the sky (even airplanes flying over) they'd raise the alarm and seek cover under the thick Honeysuckle bushes.

    If it came from the ground (Fox, Cat, Dog.. daytime prowlers) they went up into the trees. I watched one fox try it's hardest to flush them down, but the chickens remained calm, almost aloof about it, and stayed up high until I set the cattle dog out to run the fox off. (The only dog I had who would come back when I called after sending her out after a predator)

    I had a mix of Seabrights, who followed the lead of the others. Black Bantams, who also followed the leader. But the leader, the one Roo who kept the closest eye and sounded the first alarm, was an Americauna Roo.

    But his sister was a moron. She was dumb as any hen could be. She almost got caught by a fox... was chasing a butterfly when the alarm sounded, was the last one to get into the bushes, flying for the most part, fox nipping at her not far behind. I set the dog out fast that time, I really didn't think she was going to make it.

    So is it a Rooster thing that some just have? Most of the Bantam Roosters would "help"... cocking a head to the sky periodically, adding their noises to the alarm... but the leader was the one who was on it, and no one taught him.

    Seemed every predator within 5 miles knew I had free range chickens, but I still only lost 3, 2 of them caged when it happened.

    The chickens knew the dogs weren't part of the predator list, no alarm over the cattle dog, and they would return to the ground and start foraging again while she escorted the fox away.

    But they never paniced or acted lost and confused.. it was like they knew what to do, it was a fact of life, nothing to go crazy over.

    That one Rooster to thank for it?

    My aunts in Tennessee have gamefowl, free range,wild for the most part. They also have coyote, bobcat, much larger predators than we have. The first year, they lost over half the flock when they put them out. But in each year after that, the survivor's were breeding, and like "teaching" the young how high to go into the trees/barn to roost, where to nest, when to move, ect. They learned to be predator savvy.

    But that Roo I had, hand raised from an incubator, set out to grow, came into his own, on his own.

    Does anyone else have a Roo with that much instinct to be predator savvy? Or a flock that learned from losses to be savvy?
     
  2. SallyF

    SallyF Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2009
    Middle Tennessee
    Interesting question. I have nothing to offer, but I look forward to reading other posts on the subject. Thanks for a thought-provoking read over the morning coffee![​IMG]
     
  3. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm Premium Member

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    Bowdon, GA
    Does make one wonder. If skills are learned/gene related in birds....

    Works for guard dogs....

    If you find the perfect guard rooster, you will have a fortune forever.

    Keep us posted!
     
  4. nnbreeder

    nnbreeder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oklahoma
    When a critter broke-up the nests of my free ranging hens the next set of nests were up on a stack of hay. safely nestled between loose bales.

    So I would say learned and then taught to others.
     
  5. mmurry1

    mmurry1 New Egg

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    Sep 15, 2009
    I also have an Aracauna/Americauna and he is from my original group of day old chicks. Any teaching in our yard is from him letting the new additions to the flock where they stand in the pecking order. As far as watching over and getting them all under cover he has always done that and nobody ever showed him.
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I've never suffered predator losses in my free range flocks, but all my roos seem to know exactly what to do. And so do the hens. And any youngsters I set out, as young as 4 weeks, with my free ranged flock.

    Don't know if it's instinct or learned, but all my roos did a fine job with this.
     
  7. NotTheMomma

    NotTheMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Interesting!!

    I know SOME of my hens will peck my dogs. They wait until the dog isn't looking at them, or is walking away, and PECK. Scares my poor dogs. I'm hoping one of dogs doesn't decide to go after them for the pecking!!! The same hens also CHASE my cats. Won't dare let a cat come into the coop. I saw one hen jump onto my cat's back.

    My Roo is chicken. [​IMG] He's wonderful to his gals, and finds them good food to eat. But when trouble is around, he is the first to take off. He'll alert that there's a dog or cat near, but he isn't staying around to fight it.

    I haven't noticed how they are towards hawks, and I don't really know what a hawk sounds like. I have heard a bird of some sort in the air and trees, and they'll all take cover under bushes. Dunno if it's a hawk they hear or what though.

    As for night time predators, I don't know how they would react, but my guess would be they'll sleep right through it. They're locked up in a wooden coop that has no windows, or way for something to get in. The people door has two locks on it, and the chicken's door just has one lock. I pray nothing can open their door!
     

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