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Chicken Predators – Protect Your Poultry From Predators!

Protecting Your Flock From Birds of Prey!

Protecting your flock of Chickens from hawks and other large birds of prey can be rather difficult.

Recently  I have lost a couple chickens to a Red Tailed Hawk and he is rather persistent in thinking he will keep coming back for more.   I have decided it is my job to do my very best to discourage Mr. Hawk by making it very difficult for him to take any of my stock.

Protecting Flock From Hawks

Protecting Flock From Hawks

Many like to follow the old farming rule of Shoot, Shovel, and shut up.  But I have to warn you that this can get you into some very serious trouble as hawks are illegal to shoot. All hawks and owls are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 USC, 703-711). These laws strictly prohibit the capture, killing, or possession of hawks or owls without special permit. The fine for killing any of them or even having their feathers in your possession is very stiff.

One way to discourage the hawk is by changing the routine up a little bit every day so when he does a fly by he does not see the chickens below and goes else where to look for lunch.  I normally let the chickens out to free range early in the morning and lock them up at night.  Now that the hawk has been visiting I let them out later in the day and only for small amounts of time and then lock them back up again for the rest of the day.  You need to do your very best to make sure that the hawk does not do a fly by and see the chickens out and about.

I was doing very well until I felt like the danger was past and I let them out early and forgot about them.  Sure enough I looked out the window and there was a hawk enjoying his meal of a fresh killed,  half grown Buff Brahma chick in the drive way.

My best recommendation for protecting your chickens from hawks and other birds of prey would be to cover the top of the chicken pen with wire or netting. I have used the bird netting which you can get pretty inexpensively from Home Depot and many other places online. Many chicken runs are very large and if this is your case, the netting is the best way to protect the birds from hawks and to also keep your ladies from wandering off and hiding their eggs around your yard. Very large runs may require support posts in the center to help keep the netting up off the ground.  By far I would say that the garden netting for keeping birds off fruit trees and berry bushes is a very good choice for a covering for your chicken run, as it is light weight and won’t rust.

Put up a life size plastic owl on the hen house.  The birds of prey are somewhat territorial. If they see the fake owl, they might move on.  This is not a guaranteed method at all but it does seem to work for some time.  You need to keep moving the fake owl around so that the hawk does not get used to seeing it in one place all of the time.  I move it every week to another fence post around the outside of the chicken run.

Another possibility is to tie bright metallic objects around the pen to confuse and startle the hawks. Objects such as aluminum pie plates seem to work the best.  You can also use shiny pieces of tin foil, and reflective tape that you can get at your local hardware will all help to keep hawks away. Of course none of these methods are foolproof.  You have to always stay on top of your game and one step ahead of the hawk.  The moment you let your guard down and another chicken becomes a meal for the Hawk.

One of the best protections against hawk attacks is to give the chickens plenty of cover to hide under.  The bushes are very good Hawk protection. This works very well for the run or pen that is too large to have a top. Plant several trees and bushes and have covered areas in the pen for the birds to hide under. Allow the weeds that the chickens do not find as edible to grow for the cover they can provide for your chickens. Hawks generally like to catch things out in the open. This thick brush and weeds will also help the hens feel safer. I red that a very good tree for growing in a chicken yard is mulberry tree or bush as it will provide good cover and an added bonus treat of summer berries for the chickens as well.

Another big help to the flock is having a rooster or two in the flock.  A rooster will help to sound an alarm when a hawk is around, but while they will fight a hawk, they will often be killed themselves and another rooster will have to be purchased.  The roosters are very keen to movement from the air and will sound an alarm to it’s hens whenever it sees a shadow of a bird from the air.

Chicks right from birth seem to recognize the alarm from the rooster and will take cover with their mother very quickly.

Protecting your flock of Chickens from hawks and other large birds of prey can be rather difficult as stated at the beginning of this article.

My best advice is to keep your chickens penned up in an enclosed run if your birds are valuable breed stock.  If you have free range poultry just for eggs you should always consider the benefits that these birds of prey provide before removing them from an area; their ecological importance, aesthetic value, and contributions as indicators of environmental health may outweigh the economic damage they cause.

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