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Daydream Believer
Mar. 29, 2011, 04:45 PM
As you may guess from my title, I had an incident with a hawk today...a big Red Tail. I must have pulled in the driveway right after he killed one of my laying hens...a lovely young Welsummer hen. She was still warm and he'd just started to feed on her. He flew off as soon as I got out of my truck to the roof of my house and then left when I went to see to the chicken. Poor chook...I hope it was fast. :cry:

The other hens were all in the coop and in a frenzy of fear...they were squawking and crowded into the back. I know there must have been terrified having that big raptor drop down on another hen. I closed them in for their protection and tried to regroup a bit on what to do.

I wondered if any else has ever had any hawk predation issues and what you might have done to solve it or chase off the hawk. I realize they are protected and birdshot is not an option, but I sure was tempted. :no:

I moved the girls pen...they are inside electric poultry netting...to a new spot. I made the pen more narrow...having read somewhere that that can help deter the hawks from flying down into the pens. I also also put some strings across the top of the posts and across the pen in a zig zag pattern to kind of confuse it's vision as I read that can help also. It will make it hard to walk around in there without hooking myself in the neck but I'm sure he'll be back for more chicken. :(

Any ideas anyone has is appreciated. I can't afford to feed the local hawks and unfortunately my girls are an easy target for a large bird of prey like that.

HPFarmette
Mar. 29, 2011, 05:00 PM
I have the same issue. I hope to build a longer poultry yard this spring and cover it with the netting you use to keep deer off the shrubs. I hate restricting the fowl but the alternative is....:no:

Daydream Believer
Mar. 29, 2011, 05:21 PM
I thought about that too...but with pastured poultry and larger numbers of hens (about 60 now), it's so hard to move something like that once you put the netting up. Argh...what a PITA. Just what I need...another project!

Half the girls are still too scared to come back outside. I guess I can't blame them.

maunder
Mar. 29, 2011, 05:32 PM
I have pheasant netting over my entire coop and run area. The chickens have a paddock which is about 14 x 14 and then they can go out into a larger area, which used to be my backyard. It's about 100 feet square. I use the poles that you prop up laundry lines to hold the netting up and in the winter with our Northern snows I take the poles down so the netting is on the ground.

I've found this is the only way to keep the chickens safe. Occasionally a hawk will hit the pheasant netting to test it. That's amazing to see.

Bluey
Mar. 29, 2011, 05:35 PM
The hens would do better in smaller flocks anyway, so how about three flocks of 20 in narrower pastures and you can put bird netting over each, from steel post to steel post, enough to discourage raptors.

Something you may find somewhere here, a very light net that goes over trees to protect the fruit from birds:

http://www.gemplers.com/icatalog/master/z/405

Zarafia
Mar. 29, 2011, 05:46 PM
I personally keep my chickens cooped up at night and out in an enclosed (including poultrynetting roof) area during the day.
But did you happen to notice if the hawk actually had a red tail? I ask because a falconer could legally trap that bird for you if it was a juvenile and didn't have a fully red tail.
Before you think about shooting (which as you already know is illegal) look into nuisance trapping. You may be able to get a permit from your local fish and game.
Hawks are really quite easy to trap once you've got a permit.
If you want, PM me your location and specifics and I'll post on the falconry forum and see if I can get you some help.

Alagirl
Mar. 29, 2011, 05:56 PM
I think commercial outfits have areas with smallish shrubs for the chickens to run for cover to. it really has not to be very tall, a bit above knee hight.

Also, I think lines strung criss cross above the runs are supposed to work.

A friend of mine owns five acres on the side of a mountain. the previous owner said the hawks got all the chickens, but the area is wide open, bordered by trees which offer wonderful perch opportunities for predators...

SLW
Mar. 29, 2011, 06:01 PM
I hate it when hawks kill hens. We dealt with that a lot- the hawks would take our ducks too. :( If the hens aren't under a net or wire there really isn't much you can do, legally. ;)

JeanM
Mar. 29, 2011, 06:39 PM
Well your story confirms an alternate name I just learned from my old riding instructor (~85 years young) for red-tail hawks -- did you know they're also known as "chicken hawks"?

Daydream Believer
Mar. 29, 2011, 08:06 PM
I had heard the name chicken hawk before. Funny but I never really made the connection until today. That's true indeed.

Yes, it definitely had a red tail. It was mature. Too bad on that. I'm sure there are more around though.

I did the crisscross thing for now with string and the girls went back out and were running around and scratching...the tragedy of the attack forgotten in their birdy brains. It must be nice to have such a short memory!

My husband and I both are ex military and we were just discussing running netting like camouflage netting the military uses. Instead of that, we could use the gamebird netting or shade cloth and that would give the hens more shade also which they will really appreciate when it gets hot.

I thing we are switching our broilers over to the chicken tractor model (bottomless pens) so they will be safe from a hawk at least.

Bluey, I had wondered about smaller groups also but we will probably run up to 200-300 hens eventually and our coops (we've built already) house about 60-80 easily...so it would add a major cost to build that many more movable coops as well as the cost of more poultry netting which is expensive. Good thought though and thanks for your idea. Thanks to all of you for your thoughts as well.

Bluey
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:14 PM
There are some families from Mexico around here that have large chicken pens and have old barrels and half barrels all over there that have a place for their hens to get under them, like a small chicken door cut out of the bottom.
I thought they were for shade, but maybe they are also because chickens like a hiding place?

I wonder if those serve the same function of the low bushes and keep hawks from feeling safe swooping down and give the chickens a place to run under?

I know that on size of flocks, Grandma used to get some 30 chicks every several springs, about half would end up male friers and the rest were layers.
She used to say that she didn't like more than around 20 in each group, cut down on any pecking and at one time we had three different chicken houses with around 20 layers in each.
I also saw a local farmer had a long chicken house, that was cut into three parts and three yards, I guess for the same idea.

I think that may have been a good management system for some, then maybe they just did it like that without really having tried much else.
He may have done it like that because Grandma said so, or her because he said so.:lol:

As long as the chickens are happy, whatever numbers you want to run will be fine.
No odd rule of thumb really needs to be followed on chicken raising.;)

Alagirl
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:19 PM
There are some families from Mexico around here that have large chicken pens and have old barrels and half barrels all over there that have a place for their hens to get under them, like a small chicken door cut out of the bottom.
I thought they were for shade, but maybe they are also because chickens like a hiding place?

I wonder if those serve the same function of the low bushes and keep hawks from feeling safe swooping down and give the chickens a place to run under?

I know that on size of flocks, Grandma used to get some 30 chicks every several springs, about half would end up male friers and the rest were layers.
She used to say that she didn't like more than around 20 in each group, cut down on any pecking and at one time we had three different chicken houses with around 20 layers in each.
I also saw a local farmer had a long chicken house, that was cut into three parts and three yards, I guess for the same idea.

I think that may have been a good management system for some, then maybe they just did it like that without really having tried much else.
He may have done it like that because Grandma said so, or her because he said so.:lol:

As long as the chickens are happy, whatever numbers you want to run will be fine.
No odd rule of thumb really needs to be followed on chicken raising.;)


I think I heard about research some years back that stated that chickens can't recognize but about 10 other chickens. It was in regard to the cage/range discussion, to underscore that range chickens are not so much happier out of the cage in a huge flock as inside a cage. (meaning, the cage keeping chicken farmers could have sponsored the research)

wsmoak
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:23 PM
large chicken pens and have old barrels and half barrels all over there that have a place for their hens to get under them, like a small chicken door cut out of the bottom.
I thought they were for shade, but maybe they are also because chickens like a hiding place?

I think there's a reason those A-frame things we jump over are called "coops"... does anyone know the history of the name or am I just making that up? :D

Bluey
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:28 PM
I think there's a reason those A-frame things we jump over are called "coops"... does anyone know the history of the name or am I just making that up? :D

I googled chicken coop and seems that is just a name for a chicken house.
Wow, some fancy, pretty ones here:

http://www.horizonstructures.com/coop_landing.asp

Zarafia
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:30 PM
One thing that falconers who also raise pigeons advise, in terms of pigeons, that might help, is to be sure that there are no trees around your "prey birds". If the hawk has to make in from a good distance the prey birds can often make it to cover before the hawk connects.
Something to keep in mind is that with the offending hawk being mature, he is most likely feeding his mate who is incubating their eggs right now. This will make a hawk bolder than normal.
Another thing to keep in mind is that RTs are very territorial and wont tolerate another pair in their area. So if you can find a way to foil this pair's predation of your chickens it is highly unlikely that other hawks will bother you.
Something that red tailed hawks hate and fear is great horned owls. You might try buying a couple cheap fake great horneds and placing them strategically around your chicken's area. It might help.
Good luck, and please don't resent the hawks for being opportunistic.

Daydream Believer
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:35 PM
So far, I've had very little pecking or issues with the chickens. All my girls have their beaks too. I think keeping them out where they can move and engage in normal behaviors helps a lot...it keeps them content...and not overcrowding helps a lot too. It is a scream to watch them all laying out for dust baths in the sun.

I do occasionally have the hens pick on one that is younger or weaker, but it's not a major problem. I can tell you that the free range eggs are equal to none in taste. I can't keep them in stock now...I have a waiting list. I'd not want to do it any other way unless I had no choice.

Of course the free range model has it's problems with predation and exposure to the elements. We use the day range system where they have a coop that we can close up and keep them safe at night or move them as a flock from one place to another. Our poultry netting (electric) is highly effective against ground predators but as you know, cannot stop the raptors.

I do like the idea of the barrels too for shelter. I have a number that are laying around that I can put out. Good idea!

Bluey
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:36 PM
Here is an opportunistic hawk and he is welcome to his rattler catch::eek:

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a298/Robintoo/Scan168September052009.jpg?t=1301448980

deltawave
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:40 PM
Would a big herding/guarding dog deter hawks?

Zarafia
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:43 PM
Would a big herding/guarding dog deter hawks?

If he was "on the ball", yes that would definitely help. Hawks avoid other predators, like the great horned owls I mentioned.

MistyBlue
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:48 PM
In the last New Holland magazine I got (from the tractor company) it profiled a poultry farm. They stated a couple times in the article that they have quite a few miniature goats they turn out with their flocks specifically for raptor protection.
Unfortunately they didn't elaborate on how/why that works. But maybe try a search on how this might work?

Daydream Believer
Mar. 29, 2011, 09:49 PM
Would a big herding/guarding dog deter hawks?

I think it would but it would literally have to stay around the chickens all day I'd think. I know some of the larger pasture based farms like Polyface Farm use livestock guardian dogs in their chicken pens but I just had not gotten to the point I felt I needed one.

I found this great horned owl decoy that has a movable head and looks very realistic. How cool is this? Now will it terrify my poor dumb little hens too? :yes:

http://www.gemplers.com/product/G73500/Rotating-Head-Owl

Bluey...I've seen hawks take snakes around here too. They are more than welcome to them! :eek:

Zarafia...thanks for the informative post. I don't really resent the hawk for being a hawk but it's hard to loose a hen that you've raised for 5.5 months to the verge of laying (finally) and then watch her being eaten. :( I was pretty frustrated when I made the comment about killing it..which of course I would not...but I do hope he can be stopped from coming back. I simply can't afford to lose chickens like this.

Calvincrowe
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:04 PM
We've found that the only thing that will prevent hawk predation is netting or fishing line strung across the pen. Once that hawk finds the easy pickins' of your flock, he'll be back. Don't shoot, though (as stated, it is illegal), try to find a way to protect your birds first.

I have no idea how goats would protect a flock...might just be "dog sized" enough to deter the hawk, instead.

I'd love to see a dog who wouldn't attack a flock of hens! That is what has taken more of our hens over the years than anything else..raccoons a close second, and a weasel once...that was bizarre to see, let me tell you!

MistyBlue
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:06 PM
I can't figure out how the goats work either. I tried to google it, but didn't find much other than hawks usually seem to avoid anywhere with larger animals walking around. :confused:
Then I tried looking up 'guard goats' and all I saw were videos of people getting attacked by goats. :lol:

Zarafia
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:08 PM
I think it would but it would literally have to stay around the chickens all day I'd think. I know some of the larger pasture based farms like Polyface Farm use livestock guardian dogs in their chicken pens but I just had not gotten to the point I felt I needed one.

I found this great horned owl decoy that has a movable head and looks very realistic. How cool is this? Now will it terrify my poor dumb little hens too? :yes:

http://www.gemplers.com/product/G73500/Rotating-Head-Owl

Bluey...I've seen hawks take snakes around here too. They are more than welcome to them! :eek:

Zarafia...thanks for the informative post. I don't really resent the hawk for being a hawk but it's hard to loose a hen that you've raised for 5.5 months to the verge of laying (finally) and then watch her being eaten. :( I was pretty frustrated when I made the comment about killing it..which of course I would not...but I do hope he can be stopped from coming back. I simply can't afford to lose chickens like this.



That owl might work great. Every Rt I've ever had was TERRIFIED of GHOs. The chickens would probably get used to it, being around it all the time. The hawk would come in, scout things out and see the owl. Just might work like a charm.
And I do know how you feel. I had a great flock of hens that I kept around my barn. They were very bright and I had one that was my pet, Combover (she had an interesting hairstyle LOL).
But all of a sudden, when I would get home from school there would be a hen missing. It wasn't until I saw my pet Combover in the jaws of my neighbors free running dog that I figured out what was happening.
I was so upset that I grabbed the gun before the dog got off my farm. It took all my will not to shoot him dead, but I spared him. He was just being a dog. It was his owners who were at fault. And you can believe that I presented them with a serious letter about their dog killing my pet! It worked (too late for my hens) and those neighbors fixed their free running dog problem.
I miss my silly Combover :(.

Daydream Believer
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:17 PM
Zarafia,

I'm sorry about Combover...she sounded like a nice hen. It's funny how attached you get to the silly things. This hen did not have a name..she is one of 20 (now 19) Welsummers I raised from chicks last October. I can't tell them apart. Of course she was one of my biggest and nicest ones.

I found another owl decoy that is solar powered and it's head moves every 2 minutes. Amazon has it too. I'm ordering tonight before I turn in. Hopefully that will buy me time to get some netting as a backup.

Calvincrowe,

If you look hard at this pic and see the white specs inside that poultry netting, those were the livestock guardian dogs at Polyface Farm. This is a pic I took when I visited in 2009.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l215/ssluss/Farm%20pics/Polyface%20Farm/P6060070.jpg

deltawave
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:27 PM
I'd love to see a dog who wouldn't attack a flock of hens!

My labrador sleeps with them, right outside the coop, in their pen at night. :) She is THE gentlest dog on earth. But stilll dog enough to deter other varmints, even though she'd sooner cuddle them than hurt them! The simple fact that she's a dog works to scare off foxes and raccoons, etc. If they did come visit I'm not sure she'd do anything but wag her tail, but THEY don't know that!

Zarafia
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:33 PM
Zarafia,

I'm sorry about Combover...she sounded like a nice hen. It's funny how attached you get to the silly things. This hen did not have a name..she is one of 20 (now 19) Welsummers I raised from chicks last October. I can't tell them apart. Of course she was one of my biggest and nicest ones.

I found another owl decoy that is solar powered and it's head moves every 2 minutes. Amazon has it too. I'm ordering tonight before I turn in. Hopefully that will buy me time to get some netting as a backup.

Calvincrowe,

If you look hard at this pic and see the white specs inside that poultry netting, those were the livestock guardian dogs at Polyface Farm. This is a pic I took when I visited in 2009.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l215/ssluss/Farm%20pics/Polyface%20Farm/P6060070.jpg

Thanks Daydream. Combover was extremely tame (and horny LOL) She would scramble right up to me and solicit me till I petted her back. She was cool.

Bluey
Mar. 29, 2011, 11:14 PM
My labrador sleeps with them, right outside the coop, in their pen at night. :) She is THE gentlest dog on earth. But stilll dog enough to deter other varmints, even though she'd sooner cuddle them than hurt them! The simple fact that she's a dog works to scare off foxes and raccoons, etc. If they did come visit I'm not sure she'd do anything but wag her tail, but THEY don't know that!

We also had a black lab that at night five ducks went in her big dog house and slept with her all night long one summer.:cool:

PiaffePlease
Mar. 29, 2011, 11:24 PM
We used to have an outside rabbit as a pet. It was in a large 12x12 pen (4 feet high). He was in there for years without a problem. One day a hawk flew down and scooped him up. After that we put chicken wire on top of the pen and that fixed it. But it looks like your pen is way too big to do that.

Sorry about your chicken :(

In the Air
Mar. 30, 2011, 07:48 AM
We have those large movable coops for chickens on the farm. we also have hawks and two pairs of bald eagles. The hawks don't seem to bother the chickens too much but the bald eagles have been geting quite a few lately. The chickens have netting around the coops but it seems that a few always manage to get out. The coops are sometimes in a field with the dairy cows and one cow in a particular likes to hang out with the chickens. The other day a large eagle came swooping in to grab dinner and the cow charged the eagle and saved the chicken. The eagle and the cow had quite a standoff and the cow eventually won. Funniest thing ever. Those eagles are huge. The cow spent the rest of the day patroling the four coops and watching for eagles....

Daydream Believer
Mar. 30, 2011, 07:57 AM
What a good cow! I think I'd keep her around for sure. I recall not long ago seeing some video of some cows beating up a young black bear also.

Daydream Believer
Mar. 30, 2011, 08:31 AM
Well Damn...I just lost another hen. I looked out an hour ago, hens were fine...out having breakfast and scratching. I just had breakfast and was headed out the door to do chores and there is Mr. Hawk having another hen for dinner. I locked the girls up in the coop and that is where they will have to stay until I get this resolved. :-(

I ordered the owls last night and will get the netting on order this morning. I'm so frustrated I can't see straight!

tveley
Mar. 30, 2011, 08:58 AM
We had a hawk issue when I first moved to this farm 3 years ago. I brought my 30 chickens and 2 pet ducks with me from my previous location. After the first year here, I only had 1 rooster and 2 hens remaining from my original flock. The hawks got the rest of the chickens and both of the ducks during nesting season.

I can see the large hawk nest in one of the large oak trees near my covered arena. They actually would dump the inedible carcass remains out of the nest when they had the chicks in the nest, very gross to come across the feet, heads, bones and feathers raining down from the nest. I guess the chicks only liked the tender internal parts and they needed their space.

I have a new flock now and for whatever reason we have not had a problem with the hawks getting these. These chickens hang out around the barn and pens near the chicken house that house my mini teaser stallion and an old gelding. The horses like the chicken company and the chickens like their sloppy eating equine protectors. We close up the chickens in the large chicken house at night. They can also go into the chicken house during the day (where they lay their eggs) if they want to.

Good luck!

witherbee
Mar. 30, 2011, 09:24 AM
We've had problems too - last year i lost my pet rooster and 2 hens. Not sure what got them as it was at night - I assume some other predator than a raptor.

This year, my crazy rooster Wiley was attacked by a Bald Eagle. Thankfully I saw it and was able to stop the attack (with the help of some crows!). Amazingly, Wiley had not a scratch on him - he had blown a lot of feathers and some of this tail feathers were missing, but he had fought for his life and I was out there in time to save him. I had run out of the house barefoot and screaming and had grabbed a book of all things as I ran out there - guess I had planned to throw it at the eagle or something lol!

This is what I built (not practical for a large flock). It is 12 X 24. I do let the boys out when hubby or I are out in the yard.

http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i245/wtryan/Roosters%20on%20the%20farm/007-1.jpg

Here are my boys, Elvis and Wiley - they are true pets and great tick eaters lol!
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i245/wtryan/Roosters%20on%20the%20farm/?start=all

Good luck Daydream - I know you have a great business there and hopefully the owls and netting help!

RacetrackReject
Mar. 30, 2011, 09:48 AM
Uh, that's awful DB. I hope the owl decoys work for you.

I have not had any chickens lost due to raptors yet, but I have an aggressive hawk trying to take birds (cardinals mostly) at the feeders in my front yard and I have seen it going after my neighbor's chickens.

My chickens free range during the day and are put up at night. The hawk probably doesn't take them because they prefer to hang out on my patio furniture, crapping all over it!!

The neighbor's free range their roosters, who end up in my pastures and front yard, trying to steal my hens. I taught my JRT not to chase my chickens, but I encouraged him to chase the neighbor's chickens out of my yard, and he does. He never makes a mistake and chases our chickens, but only runs the neighbor's birds. Once the birds clear the pipe fencing that separates my yard from my front pasture, my JRT stops and lets them go.

The other day a hawk swooped down into my open pasture and was right at the back of one of the neighbor's roos. The roo was running and screaming for all he was worth, but made it to some brush in his own backyard. The hawk then landed in the neighbor's chicken pen and all you could hear was chickens screaming. Luckily, the neighbor's were home and came out to see what was going on, so I don't think the hawk actually made off with any chickens.

I had some problems with a fox taking the chickens that refused to go up in the pen at night, but I took some advice from a post by MistyBlue and started letting my GSDxWolf urinate all over around the barn and chicken pen area. This seemed to stop the foxes altogether. In the last month, I have seen some large canine scat and an actual coyote in a field, but they haven't taken anything yet. This could be due to my horses though. My older TB hates anything in his pasture and will go after dogs, cats, chickens, etc.

Most recently I heard a big cat snarling/growling in the woods. I have been meaning to look for recordings online to see if I can tell if it's bobcat or mountain lion. It sounded BIG, but that doesn't mean anything. I'm just hoping I don't have to deal with a mountain lion in the near future.

Again, I hope the owl decoys work for you.

Calvincrowe
Mar. 30, 2011, 10:25 AM
If you don't want a chicken to be killed by wild animals, they need to be fully-fenced and covered by netting/wire. As simple as that. It sucks, but there it is. Birds of prey are looking for a meal, and by letting domesticated poultry roam free, it is a matter of time, usually. Sorry to be a downer, but them's the facts.

I'm sorry you lost another hen, it always hurts, as they are such funny little things. I do hope the owl decoy works...and it should for a little while. We used one in an arena to keep out starlings and such...which was fine 'til they figured out it wasn't real, then they just roosted on it:cool:.

Bluey
Mar. 30, 2011, 10:56 AM
That is too bad, to lose more chickens, but hawks are not that dumb, they know where there are easy pickings and will keep coming for more.:(

We made our chicken yards out of regular steel posts we had welded some 2' extensions to and used 6' chicken wire tied to it.
Those were narrow and long pens and on one long side, halfway, were the chicken houses the chickens went in to lay eggs in their nests, mostly during the mornings and roost in there overnight, closed in.

Our problems were snakes going in there for the eggs and skunks and coons trying to get in the chicken house at night.
We would hear the racket and run out there and scare them off before they broke in there.

That one pen for the roosters looks like a chicken Taj-Mahal.:cool:

Zarafia
Mar. 30, 2011, 10:57 AM
Dreamer, sorry about your girl. That sucks.
Witherby, in Ocala it was a raccoon. I have had terrible raccoon attacks on my various birds. Most recently, last year, they broke into my pigeon loft and killed half of my pigeons in one night. The next night I caught the perpetrators, two young raccoons trying to take out the rest of my flock. Worst part was that they didn't even have the decency to eat all they killed!

Daydream Believer
Mar. 30, 2011, 11:59 AM
Well, they don't exactly "roam free" Calvincrowe. They are confined in electric poultry netting which does protect them from ground based predators and keeps them where I want them but unfortunately it can't stop a hawk, as we all see now. I had hoped the string I put up yesterday crisscrossed across the top would deter him, but it did not. I guess it just wasn't close enough to be effective.

The owls will be here in a few days and I'll either supervise the hens while they are out or confine them. Making a large pasture enclosure that is movable to house 60 hens is not something I can do overnight. Meanwhile a few days in the coop will not be harmful to them. There is plenty of room in there for them and I can even move a few out to an inside pen in another building I have available if necessary until this is resolved.

I'm pricing my options on aviary netting right now and trying to work out how to use it with the system I already have...that would be my most economical choice...so we'll probably do that on top of the owls perched around as deterrents also. Hopefully the hawks will go find some rabbits to eat or something and leave my birds alone.

Thanks for all the kindness and help to those who contibuted. These are first losses I've had since I've started this business other than some dogs that dug under a wall to get to my baby broilers last fall. I know losing livestock happens to all farmers and while I'm trying not to take it personally, I do feel a responsibility to the animals I own and use in our business.

Zarafia
Mar. 30, 2011, 12:06 PM
Good luck Daydreamer. I really hope that the owls help. It always sucks to lose animals under our care.
Good on you for coming here for advice. It's always good to ask for advice/help IMO.

wireweiners
Mar. 30, 2011, 03:49 PM
I field trial my dachshunds. Dachshund, beagle and basset field trials are run in fenced grounds that are stocked with rabbits. Clubs that own field trial grounds create a rabbit paradise with feeding stations, water, etc. Plenty of bunnies = a hawk smorgasbord. One of the field trials I went to had these "red eye" things on poles placed in various areas around the trial grounds. They are supposed to deter hawks and owl. Maybe something like that would work for you.

Daydream Believer
Mar. 30, 2011, 08:11 PM
wireweiners...that's an interesting idea! Thanks for mentioning it.

I did order some aviary netting today to try and make up something that will protect the chooks from dive bombers. We hope to have it by the weekend.

MistyBlue
Mar. 30, 2011, 10:30 PM
How about shrubs? Some sort of plant that you can either plant inside the chicken areas or plant in moveable pots? Anything to provide cover from air raids...something that spreads a bit or offers more shade/protection. You can even do some gardening that way maybe? Plant something productive that the chooks can hide under (and find shade in hot weather) and that will keep the hawks from seeing a wide open space with moving targets.
Many of them scattered about to create sort of a grid to inhibit a large bird having a clear runway to swoop down into might work.

Hawks don't like to swoop into things. Landscaping for the cluckers. :winkgrin: Maybe blueberry bushes? Although that'll attract all sorts of birds who will then fly around and poop blue all over your buildings. Maybe something that doesn't require tons of watering and the chickens are unlikely to eat bare like hot peppers? Or else something the chickens like to eat so they have shade, cover and snacks.

Daydream Believer
Mar. 31, 2011, 09:30 AM
That's a really good idea Misty Blue! Thanks! It sounds almost like a zoo exhibit with chicken enrichment toys...and I'm beginning to feel a bit like I'm living in zoo for that matter!

Well, I do have an update this morning. I walked out again for morning chores and there was Mr. Hawk literally bashing against and hanging from my pasture coop trying to get in to get to my girls. Of course they were clucking in fear and half panicked. He must be really hungry or very determined or both. The coop held OK and he did not damage it nor get in...I used hardware cloth on the open sides (it's a hoop house design) and he didn't pierce the hoop fabric...thank God.

This is what the hen's coop looks like:

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l215/ssluss/chickens/P8190006.jpg

It was almost unbelievable to walk out and see this predator trying so hard in broad daylight in the middle of an active farm to break into the coop like that. He's obviously bold but I am quite astonished at how bold. It's pretty clear that nothing short of a physical barrier will stop him. I think the owls might back him off a day or two but not for long.

I have the netting on order and it should be here in a few days. Until then I'll just have to confine the girls. It sure does make you appreciate a permanent chicken run with overhead protection but you just can't get the delicious pastured eggs that way.

Calvincrowe
Mar. 31, 2011, 10:28 AM
Daydream- that is one very aggressive RT!!:eek: Ours have sort of viewed our hens as a "mini mart", available for a snack, but not a full service/24/7 restaurant.

I really meant my comments to be "in general" because so many folks post about their hens free-ranging and being eaten by various animals/birds and then being angry or surprised by the predation, either during the day or at night when they seek shelter. My hens seem to be in a similar, although more permanent, fencing arrangement as yours. So far, we've had no hawk attacks at our newish farm, though at the home I grew up in, the hawks did take a few.

Perhaps the sheer number of hens in one space has the RT so excited? I only have 11 right now, and they can scatter quickly and duck into a small tree and an old dog house I have in their paddock.

Good luck! I hate thinking of your terrified girls--and they won't lay when stressed, so you really have a mandate to get this worked out. Keep us posted.

Hinderella
Mar. 31, 2011, 10:37 AM
Perhaps you can try some windmill type spinning landscape decorations? My sister is a wildlife biologist and recommended that I hang old CDs from strings to spin in the breezewhen I had woodpecker problems. I don't know if it would work, but it would be a quick and cheap thing to try out. If my sister has any better ideas, I will pass them along.

Zarafia
Mar. 31, 2011, 11:46 AM
I would bet anything that the RT is trying to provide for a family. It's breeding season and the males have to hunt like crazy in order to support their mates and chicks.
The hawk has learned that he can get easy, good food there, unfortunately.
Daydream, did I read correctly that you used to own a Nitez offspring?

Daydream Believer
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:07 PM
Thanks..and yes, he's obviously one serious RT hawk. I was floored when I saw him this morning trying to get into the coop. I may ask my husband to move a camera to point at our coop from the house and actually record this as we go. It would be fascinating to show later...assuming we can get rid of him.

Several folks have suggested that I have him trapped and removed but I'm not sure this is legal???

Calvincrowe..I just can't imagine what has made this hawk so aggressive. I"m really hoping the aviary netting will keep him out. I read somewhere yesterday in my google searches that if you do have a nuisance hawk..like this one is becoming...you can obtain special permits to deal with it. I hope it does not go that far and I'll try other solutions but I really MUST stop the losses. I depend on the income from these chickens...it's not just a hobby to me.

Zarafia...yes..many years ago I owned a Nitez half Arabian daughter. Her name was Shaherizad and I showed her as a hunter pony. The people I bought her from had an Arabian stallion by Nitez called Nirad. He was a Park horse if I recall correctly and quite beautiful. The Witez II line is my favorite of all Arabian lines. I just loved his story in the book "And Miles to Go."

Daydream Believer
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:10 PM
Perhaps you can try some windmill type spinning landscape decorations? My sister is a wildlife biologist and recommended that I hang old CDs from strings to spin in the breezewhen I had woodpecker problems. I don't know if it would work, but it would be a quick and cheap thing to try out. If my sister has any better ideas, I will pass them along.

I read about the CD idea also. I am going out to hang some once it stops pouring rain. We are having some miserable weather here.

Thanks for asking your sister about hawk deterrents for me. I appreciate it! :)

JSwan
Mar. 31, 2011, 02:25 PM
DB - I've only had one pullet killed by a hawk (so far). Having shrubs and things for the chickens to run under really helps. Even if you rig up a movable lean to - anything for them to run under.

Zarafia
Mar. 31, 2011, 06:11 PM
Daydream, I looked at your website and now I see what a threat the hawk is really posing. It looks like you have a really cool thing going with your chickens! No wonder he wants to eat them LOL.
But by the same token, I am sure that if you contact your local Fish and Game they would grant you a depredation permit, allowing you to have the hawk trapped and relocated.
I got another idea off another thread that might work for you if you were willing to give it a try; Canada geese. They will drive off the most determined hawk and beat the snot out of him if he catches an bird. Falconers wont hunt canada geese because the geese have been known to kill falconry birds.
Good luck!

BLBGP
Mar. 31, 2011, 06:14 PM
Several folks have suggested that I have him trapped and removed but I'm not sure this is legal???



It could work in the short term but unless you find a way to protect your ladies from airborne predators you'll keep having this problem. Sadly for us chicken owners, everybody loves chicken. It's up to us to go through the pain, sweat, and expense of keeping them safe. Removing one predator doesn't help.

Zarafia
Mar. 31, 2011, 06:16 PM
It could work in the short term but unless you find a way to protect your ladies from airborne predators you'll keep having this problem. Sadly for us chicken owners, everybody loves chicken. It's up to us to go through the pain, sweat, and expense of keeping them safe. Removing one predator doesn't help.

A flock of geese will though LOL :D.