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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was sitting on my patio and just witnessed a chicken hawk attempt to snatch one of my girls!!!

Any suggestions on keeping these predators away?

#scary
#poorgirls
 

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Did you save her?
 

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Just the normal tips on free ranging with the right things in place....

Right breeds/birds~birds that are docile, slow moving, overly fat, used to being picked up in the daytime hours and have no quick reactions to alarm calls and aerial danger flying overhead are just sitting ducks for hawks.

Silkies, overfed BOs, Polish (they can't see overhead as well) or any other birds with a slow, friendly, docile manner that are used to shadows overhead(humans) stooping over them and picking them up. All they will do is duck down and freeze, instead of run for cover as they should be doing. You'll want flighty birds that instinctively move away from any and all potential predators..including you.
Breeds that are naturally good at free ranging are most of the heritage lines of birds such as Black Australorps, New Hampshires, Plymouth Rocks of all variations, Rhode Island Reds, Buckeyes, Delawares, Wellies, Doms, Leghorns, etc. These old timey breeds make good free range breeds, even when derived from hatchery sources. There are many breeds out there that still have good foraging and free range tendencies.

Right rooster or flock master(can be a hen)~ A good rooster will sound the alarm before you even see the threat and will have trained his flock to listen and act on it. He's worth his weight in gold when it comes to free range. Most will not fight a dog or other 4 legged predator, but the rare few will stand off a hawk, challenge a hawk or sacrifice himself for the flock. Mostly they will get the flock to shelter when a pred is in the area. A dominant hen can take over this role if she's the right sort.

Right place~ Areas that have plenty of trees, fence rows, shelters, shrubs, etc. where a bird can run and duck under to avoid the stoop of a hawk. If there is a lack of natural shelters or hides, creating them at convenient distances throughout the range can mean life or death for your chickens. Some use pallets up on blocks, some even use pup tents, trampolines, and tarps over range shelters made from cattle panel hoops.

Right dog~ A dog that lives outdoors all the time, is safe around the birds and sees them as living in his territory, so they are automatically protected from predator threats..even those from the sky. He is watchful all day and night and his constant vigilance lets area preds know this is a risky place for a meal. He doesn't have to cost a lot nor need some high dollar training or have to even be a LGD breed...mine have all been lab mixes that were unwanted by someone else~read FREE~and served years of unfailing, loyal service to the flocks and to the family. Loved companions, good dogs, fierce flock protection and have saved my flocks over and over. I'd never try to even have chickens~be they penned or free range~without a good dog to watch over them when I am gone all day and sleeping at night. They are indispensable to having livestock on your land....and that's just what chickens are.

Right fence~ The right fence can and will slow down most canine preds from doing a quick grab and snatch of your birds and also keep your birds contained. They don't usually fly over a fence, they fly to the top of a fence and drop down on the other side, so removing any surface that makes for good landing at the top of your fence is imperative~even if you have a 6 ft. high fence. You can string light wire there above the hard top of the fence/gait to discourage the hop up or extend the fencing materials above the posts and gates by 6-8 in. Chickens, even adult ones, can regularly roost in trees and barn rafters, so a 6 ft. fence does not mean it is going to stop this behavior. Even clipping wing or wings can sometimes not deter a determined escapee.

If you have a good fence and keep your birds contained and you still get a neighbor's dog breaching those defenses, you have a leg to stand on when it comes to the legal aspects. A good looking, cheap and effective way to protect suburban birds from 4 legged preds is a simple electronet poultry fence on a solar charger...you can move it to different areas, you can put it away and use it another day, it lasts up to 10 years with good care, you can place it around your coop and not worry about *****, foxes, possums, etc at night and it will shock the vinegar out of even a black bear...and it will definitely keep the chickens in if you leave it energized.

Right attitude~ To free range, one has to accept the risk of possible loss. If done correctly, those losses are very few...I've lost 3 to preds in the last 10 years or more. Two of those are questionable if it was an aerial pred, as they were young and prone to wander off into the woods out of the dog's boundary of defense~we have a local grey fox. I've lost 1 bird at night because she roosted in the barn loft where the dogs could not defend her and got picked off by an owl. All of these were acceptable to me because these birds didn't heed the dangers of leaving the flock and the flock protections that are always available. In other words, they were too dumb to live and so they didn't get to do so. All in all, these few losses over many years and many birds free ranged tell me that free ranging can be done with minimal loss if done properly.

Another important attitude to have is that you are going to do everything possible to avoid predation, not just turn out your chickens to the grass with a kiss for luck~ then cry to all and sundry when it goes wrong, telling anyone who free ranges they are putting their birds at risk and are negligent. (This happens more than you could possibly know...people try it once, the wrong way, and then announce it can't be done safely.)

Free ranging can be done and done well for many years if you have the right system in place that insures your birds are just as safe as they are in a coop and run...and many, many stories of predation start right there~in a coop and run~so these are not fail proof places to keep chickens.

There really is no such thing as a Ft. Knox coop unless it is, indeed, in the middle of a Ft. Knox gold vault. A black bear or a determined pack of dogs can show you in about 5 min. how safe your coop and runs really are. Chickens in a coop and run are like fish in a barrel to predators and there is no possible escape there...at least out on free range they have a chance to run, fly, duck and cover and you may not lose all your birds in one devastating attack .
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks! It's the first time I have ever seen this right in front of me! It didn't get any of my girls but scared us all!!!!
 

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Hawks can be very bold and swoop down right in front of you. When I lived in GA, I had alot of problems with hawks and not alot of cover so I made them "chicken bunkers" they could hide in and placed them around the pasture. I think your best first line of defense is a good roo. My one turken boy, Rambo is the ultimate hawk spotter. He can see them long before I do and gets everyone hidden. Prior to Rambo, I had a silkie boy fight a hawk to save some babies. He did an awesome job at fending him off until I got there. He had a gash on his back but recovered well. He is now known as Henry the hawk fighter! Just be alert, it will be back!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
adorson said:
Hawks can be very bold and swoop down right in front of you. When I lived in GA, I had alot of problems with hawks and not alot of cover so I made them "chicken bunkers" they could hide in and placed them around the pasture. I think your best first line of defense is a good roo. My one turken boy, Rambo is the ultimate hawk spotter. He can see them long before I do and gets everyone hidden. Prior to Rambo, I had a silkie boy fight a hawk to save some babies. He did an awesome job at fending him off until I got there. He had a gash on his back but recovered well. He is now known as Henry the hawk fighter! Just be alert, it will be back!
Thanks! I just got a Roo named Cosmo. He had most of the girls hidden but not all and i dont recall if it was before or after the attack. Thankfully I didn't lose any!

image-248026224.jpg

It all happened so fast!
 

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Awesome looking boy! If he is new to the girls, it might take a bit for the girls to know when he alerts, he means business. I know when I moved to Georgia, my flock was not used to having to worry about predators prior to that and it took them a bit but they did learn to run for cover. Now when one of the boys makes that alert call. They run immediately for cover. You look around and it is like you don't own a chicken because you can't see one anywhere! Sometimes it is only because a butterfly is fluttering by but I guess it doesn't hurt to have practice drills. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
adorson said:
Awesome looking boy! If he is new to the girls, it might take a bit for the girls to know when he alerts, he means business. I know when I moved to Georgia, my flock was not used to having to worry about predators prior to that and it took them a bit but they did learn to run for cover. Now when one of the boys makes that alert call. They run immediately for cover. You look around and it is like you don't own a chicken because you can't see one anywhere! Sometimes it is only because a butterfly is fluttering by but I guess it doesn't hurt to have practice drills. LOL
Thanks!!! I think he's pretty awesome. I am hoping the girls will listen to the boss man. Haha
Ironically right before this happened about 100 blackbirds swooped from the trees and were in our yard. I wonder if that was due to the hawk arriving. It was all very strange!
 

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Yes, it could have very well been because of the hawk. I have seen starlings chase hawks off many times and the one time, I believe the hawk might have gotten one of their babies because this mass of starlings were chasing the hawk, the hawk went to the ground, they all swooped down on the hawk but the hawk did fly back up and off. I didn't see it carrying anything anymore so it must have dropped whatever it had. Crows will also alert when a hawk is nearby and help to chase them off too. Now Ravens are a different story, they are bigger than the crows and will go after young chickens.
 

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Today a hawk swooped down and had my bantam rooster pinned down! Luckily he is fine! I was so worried! We had to get it off of him!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
poultrylover99 said:
Today a hawk swooped down and had my bantam rooster pinned down! Luckily he is fine! I was so worried! We had to get it off of him!
Oh my gosh I am so sorry to hear this!!! This is what I am afraid of!! Yesterday I was out planting bushes and kept seeing these two shadows. It was two hawks flying overhead I guess scoping out the chickens! Ugh I think I need to invest in a slingshot!!
 

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lititzchic said:
Oh my gosh I am so sorry to hear this!!! This is what I am afraid of!! Yesterday I was out planting bushes and kept seeing these two shadows. It was two hawks flying overhead I guess scoping out the chickens! Ugh I think I need to invest in a slingshot!!
Yes , it is so scary how fast they can be taken and gone. He is my favorite little bantam man and I would be devastated if something happened to him. I'm really worried now! I have never had a problem with hawks and lately they have been coming around! I'm so thankful everyone was ok though!
 

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A good dog in the yard will help. My dog will chase any low flying, large bird and will start raising a ruckus if one even flies into the trees overhead and tries to land. All my dogs were like that. Haven't had a single chicken taken by a hawk in all these years of free ranging.

Our local flock of crows are also quite vigilant and will dive bomb the hawks and chase them out of the territory.
 

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Bee said:
A good dog in the yard will help. My dog will chase any low flying, large bird and will start raising a ruckus if one even flies into the trees overhead and tries to land. All my dogs were like that. Haven't had a single chicken taken by a hawk in all these years of free ranging. Our local flock of crows are also quite vigilant and will dive bomb the hawks and chase them out of the territory.
Yes. We have a yellow lab and golden retriever mix and she is very protective of the flock. We also have many crows around. Don't know what happened.
 
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