what chicken breeds can hawks take?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mpguay, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. mpguay

    mpguay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2011
    Reaching out to the experts, please:

    I have lost all my silkies to hawks and owls. Nothing is left, the body is gone. I also have 30 Ameraucanas and Welsummers in the same pen. It is surrounded by hot electric netting, and they have ample places to hide and shelter. I see hawks all the time. Even though I havent seen an attack, I think its hawks during the day.

    My heavier birds are scared, but i dont think any are missing. This Spring, when we restock the flock, I wondered if there was a breed that was a bit more tolerant of hawks.

    What do you think?
  2. gamebirdsonly

    gamebirdsonly Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 5, 2007
    I think if the hawks are hunger enough they can take down about any type of chicken[​IMG]
  3. Chickens R Us

    Chickens R Us Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had 2 chickens killed by a Coopers hawk this past summer (it left feathers as evidence), one was a Easter Egger and the other was a Cuckcoo Maran they were younger chickens but probably weighed 3 lbs. Anyway the chickens were to heavy for the hawk to carry away so it ate part of the chickens right there in the run and left the rest.Unfortunately my big rooster was in a different pen. That's probably why these were chosen, easy target.
  4. foamyownsyou

    foamyownsyou Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 11, 2014
    I being a licensed falconer in the state of California own a red tail any raptor if given the opportunity will go after a chicken or other bird you are keeping but the best way to solve that is not to take matters into your own hands and shoot the bird because you can be fined up to $25000 and spend 5 years in jail and its just plain messed up so the best way to deter raptors it's to put a cover over your chicken pens
  5. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

    Apr 7, 2011
    Western NY
    My Coop
    Are you asking what breeds of chicken are light enough for a hawk to actually carry away? If you are in the USA, our largest north american hawk is the Red-Tailed hawk

    Realistically, Red-Tailed hawks can only LIFT and CARRY AWAY approximately half their own body weight. Female red-tails, which are larger than males, generally do not weigh more than 3 pounds. Which means that he largest amount they can realistically carry away is 1.5 - 2 lbs. So, some small bantams, and chicks, are at risk of being carried off. Hawks do prefer to eat their prey on the ground most of the time, but will carry away prey if the area is not safe to sit and eat it (in other words, if the hawk is afraid of being harassed, it will carry prey away-- but only if it can lift it!).

    In general, you shouldn't be worried about chickens that weigh more than 2lbs being carried away.
    Great horned owls can carry much more, but are somewhat less likely to strike during the day.
    Bald eagles can carry quite a bit, but ordinarily do not predate on chickens.

    If larger chickens are going missing without a trace, I would be looking at 4-legged predators, or even theft.
  6. mpguay

    mpguay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2011
    Thank you! excellent answer. makes sense in my situation.
    5 small bantams disappeared, one larger bantam was found dead and plucked inside the fenced area. so far I dont think any of my adult Wesummer or Americaunas are gone, but they sure are scared. I think most of the strikes have been during the day, and I've seen red tailed hawks in the area.
    So no more bantams for me. I dont want to cage them.
  7. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

    Apr 7, 2011
    Western NY
    My Coop
    I don't know how much most bantams weigh but that sounds like it's possible if they are less than 2lbs. The hawk may have carried the lightweight birds off rather than eat them around the larger chickens-- the larger birds CAN do damage to a hawk if not caught unawares, and experienced hawks know this. Any injury to a hawk can be life and death for them, as they must hunt to survive, and so they won't often take the chance if a rooster or larger hen comes thundering over to kick it's butt!
    When presented with more than one option, an experienced hawk will take whatever prey is least likely to cause trouble... which usually means they target our smallest chickens first.

    I'd love bantams myself, but we have a dense raptor population around here, and bantams are pretty much a buffet spread for them.

    Be aware that a hawk will easily kill a much larger chicken, too, but it must eat it on the ground, which opens the hawk up to more risk if you have a rooster/protective dogs/etc. So, hawks are less likely to take the risk. But, it can still happen. Most often young, inexperienced hawks will take the craziest risks, and they can be the ones that we have the most trouble with.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  8. NotableNancy

    NotableNancy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2012
    I'm not really sure you need to be worried about a hawk picking up a chicken and carrying it away. You need to be worried about a hawk
    attacking and killing any sized chicken on the ground and eating it right there. I saw a hawk chowing down on my neighbors LF Barred Rock. She was
    probably 5-6 lbs.
    The bird didn't care about carrying it away; just eating it. As soon as I got close it flew away without it but it was to late. So I would cover any outdoor run you have if you
    hawks around your area or don't let them out alone. They may have just started with the bantams because they're small and they may move on to the larger chickens.
    Sorry this happened to you.
  9. mpguay

    mpguay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2011
    I really hope its over. I have 3 large roosters and one tiny RAMBO of a roo inside the pen and I think they are effective. The little guy is only the size of a crow but has a huge chip on his shoulder.
    I love and respect the raptors. I dont mind providing habitat for them. but i cant help but feel it personally when they get one of my girls.
  10. Sarevan

    Sarevan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2013
    White Swan, WA
    Because we live in an area with hawks, eagles, great horned owls, and ravens we built our A frame run to protect them from above. We were going to build a regular walled area and use netting to cover but we were advised by a long time poultry grower to do an A frame. Harder for a predator to get into from above and at base can bury wire to prevent entry from below.

    Only time we let the girls out of enclosed area is when we are with them and they stay pretty close together. We have long sticks (broom handle and a 1x2) to use as herding aids. Hawks and eagle sit up in cottonwood trees watching, just waiting for one to wander far enough away to have dinner. At night a great horned owl has sat on the A frame peak of run foiled unable to get the girls inside. We have gotten a much brighter white light LED yardlight that is also managing to keep the owls away.

    The extra bright yardlight is also keeping coyotes away as it gives us a very good range of sight at night and takes away the shadow so they can't slink in to the area.

    I have seen hawks take off with a large welsummer, eagle can take off with just about any sized hen. I believe overhead protection is the best thing you can do or suffer losses.

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