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#70813 - 02/10/09 07:42 AM Hawk Proof Poultry
Chip Offline
Chicken

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 134
Loc: Georgia
I'd like to have some free range birds in my backyard. I currently have bantams that stayed penned up, but would standard poultry (specifically buff Orpington or giant Cochin) be less desirable to a hawk because of their size? Also would consider other fowl--peacock/pheasant or anything large enough to avoid a hawk problem and could live in a fenced in backyard. I realize raccoons might be a problem for me too.
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#70814 - 02/10/09 07:49 AM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
Main factor, I believe, in preventing hawk predation is having a good rooster (or several). I've watched a large cooper's hawk attack a hen, and our rooster ran 30 metres to chase it away. Only hens we've lost to hawks have been out of the run on their own for some reason - flew out, or climbed a tree.

Our rooster isn't that large (a Welsummer), and our hens aren't that small, but hawks seem to know that a hen won't fight back, and that a rooster will.

Roosters are no defense against racoons though. You need to lock them up at night, without fail.

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#70815 - 02/10/09 01:52 PM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry
J. Henderson Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 674
Loc: New York
Back in mid-January, as I was doing morning chores in the barn where we have ducks and roosters, I heard an energized fluttering in the tack room. I figured it was one of the resident pigeons, but a quick glance told me it was a small hawk. It must have been there all night. I closed the door of the tack room, to keep it temporarily under control, and went inside to bring out my wife for her professional ornithological opinion. I also did a count. All the roosters and ducks were all accounted for, and there was no sign of blood or dispatch of feathers.

After my wife joined me in the tack room, I actually caught the hawk in my gloved hands. It appeared to be healthy, except for some damage to a tail feather or two, and that probably occurred while it was in the tack room. My wife gave it a close examination for identification (a juvenile Cooper's hawk), and then I took it outside and tossed it into the air. It had no trouble flying, starting out low, but soon flapped elegantly away until deciding to land toward the top of an evergreen fifty yards away. I hoped that its memory of being held in human arms would be enough to discourage it from hanging around. The roosters and ducks seemed oddly nonplussed by the whole event. I did keep the hens shut in the henhouse the whole day, but I haven't seen the hawk since.

Whether because the roosters and ducks were all larger than the hawk or for some other reason, they were not only not harmed but appeared to be unthreatened.

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#70816 - 02/10/09 02:19 PM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry
Chip Offline
Chicken

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 134
Loc: Georgia
Thanks for your posts. Does anyone know of any hens that would be safe from hawks in my fenced in yard? I'd love to have a few large Cochins to roam freely, but I want them to be safe--I'm hoping they are too big for a hawk to mess with, although I do find them to be gentle birds.
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#70817 - 02/10/09 03:05 PM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
I don't think any hen is safe from hawks. You need a rooster. It's behavioural, not just size-related. Roosters will aggressively attack a hawk, while hens just run away or give up.

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#70818 - 02/10/09 05:45 PM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry
J. Byrd Offline
Feather

Registered: 11/21/08
Posts: 26
Loc: Georgia
Bantam roosters must not be large enough to put up a good enough fight. I lost a Game and an Araucana rooster to a hawk. The Araucana rooster was a mean little guy too. You're right about hens. I lost some 8 lb. ones to a hawk.

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#70819 - 02/10/09 05:57 PM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
A rooster can be a good deterent, especially if he's packing a loaded pistol. The surprising thing about hawks is they seem quite happy and able to attack birds several pounds heavier than themselves. I think they come swooping it at warp speed and the impact kills the hen. Most likely a broken neck.

Owls, which are large around here, take the bird and eat it away from the kill site. Small hawks tend to kill hens that have wandered further than the rest, because they have to eat the bird where it lays, they cannot pick it up and move it. So they target the birds that have wandered off on their own.

Others have said it, there is nothing that can truly make your hens safe, although some steps can make them safer. Here, I can let hem out for 2 days in a row, but by day three word has gotten out that there is chicken available, and suddenly I have hawks overhead. It's about managment and anticipating the behaviour of local wildlife. Good luck!

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#88147 - 02/09/10 06:47 AM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry [Re: Chip]
Mike Livingston Offline
New Egg

Registered: 02/08/10
Posts: 3
Loc: Southwest Michigan
I raise Light Brahmas, and a small hawk (probably a Cooper's hawk) killed my rooster. He weighed about 12 lbs. and stood high enough he had to crouch down to get out the door to the coop. The hawk killed him right in the coop during the day and ate all the meat off his head and neck. There were 20 hens the hawk could have gotten, but I think the rooster tried to fight the hawk, so it removed the threat. The hawk mostly attacks my bantams, which run freely in my farm yard. They roost in the rafters of the barn at night. I think that going out and being visable during the late mornings tends to keep the hawks away.

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#88222 - 02/14/10 09:38 AM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry [Re: Mike Livingston]
C. G. McCary Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 613
Loc: Alabama
The coloration of hens might be one consideration. Barred colored or browns/reds and blacks seem to fare better than a white or yellow bird.

Quote:
Mike Livingston:I raise Light Brahmas, and a small hawk (probably a Cooper's hawk) killed my rooster. He weighed about 12 lbs.


Are you just speculating it was a Cooper's hawk? Did you see what killed him? It could not have been a "small hawk." I know my hawks pretty well, and I cannot fathom a Cooper's hawk (especially a small one) taking on a 12-lb. rooster. (I'd equate that to a Chihuahua killing a PitBull.) The female Cooper's hawk is the larger. The only hen the Cooper's around me have tried to catch is my OEG bantam hen that weighs less than a pound. I actually witnessed a 9-lb. rooster I had running off a Cooper's hawk--a juvenile male Cooper's (probably really hungry and learning to hunt) was after the bantam hen (that is about the size of bird it hunts)--it would not have even been close--my rooster would have destroyed the Cooper's Hawk if he'd caught him--there's no comparison in size and strength. The bantam hen just ran to the big rooster.

Unless you "know" your hawks and you actually witnessed the event, I cannot believe it was a Cooper's. Perhaps, a large female Red Tail hawk or a Great Horned owl (if it was indeed a bird of prey--most likely one of these since a 12-lb rooster). Also, the hawk would have likely eaten breast meat (I've sat and watched the Cooper's hawk eat a dove--and it always eats the breast meat). By contrast, a Great Horned owl eats the head and necks. On the subject of the Great Horned, it is the one bird that is utterly fearless. It will kill opossums and is one of the few animals that eats skunks. The Great Horned will even take on an eagle (they've been known to chase bald eagles out of their nests).

The ALBC had a recent called-in report of a Buckeye rooster pinning a hawk to the ground. I was not told what kind of hawk, but I am assuming a young male Red Tail or Cooper's. My brother told me he witnessed an OEG rooster kill a young Red Tail that was after a hen.

I guess I am just lucky. The hawks nor the Barred Owls rarely bother my chickens ("knocking on wood"). There are plenty of Red Tail and Cooper's Hawks around me. I see a Cooper's almost every day. My hens are large--6-7 lbs. I don't have a rooster in my yard right now (I used to attribute "no attacks" to having a rooster). I do notice the hens run for cover at the sight of a hawk or any large bird. There is a family of crows that live nearby, and I see them chasing hawks all the time; but that can't be the sole reason I don't get attacks because I see the hawks take other prey.

I believe it is the particular "areas" hawks preference of food. The Red Tails around me seem to prefer squirrels (which are plentiful). The Cooper's hawks seem to always be eating those Collared doves or Mourning doves. Please don't get me wrong, I believe a Cooper's hawk is a danger to small hens. I don't know what the pair of Barred owls eat, but I have to think it is rats or mice because I hear and see the owls hanging out over the run at night.

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#88223 - 02/14/10 11:20 AM Re: Hawk Proof Poultry [Re: C. G. McCary]
D. Pollock Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 400
Loc: USA
cgmccary, very informative post and in keeping with my own observations. The Cooper's have done quite a thinning out job on my Birmingham Rollers over the years, and our Great Horned owls have also taken a toll on my Embden geese and Pekin ducks.

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#88225 - 02/14/10 08:14 PM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: D. Pollock]
CJR Offline
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8490
Loc: Montana
Well, just face it--there are no hawk-proof chickens, waterfowl or other winged creatures. If we own them, it is up to US to keep them safe from all kinds of predators--or consider that they are simply "sacrificial birds. Eventually, that devoted mother-hen will lose her life for her chicks, that guard rooster will make a wrong move and lose his life, the guard-dog will be on the other side of the coop and miss the varmint that has taken aim on the birds. Eventually, all the best preventatives will fail and our favorite bird will likely be the one that we lose. It will happen. It is part of the poultry experience. GOOD LUCK, CJR

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#88226 - 02/14/10 08:47 PM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: CJR]
D. Pollock Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 400
Loc: USA
Oh, so true... Oh, so painfully True! But indeed, 'Tis The Way Of Life'.

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#88327 - 02/24/10 01:32 AM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: Chip]
Rogo Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 12/05/03
Posts: 469
Loc: Arizona
My poultry have always roamed free on my acreage within the perimeter fence. In all these years I've only lost one bird to a hawk. That was many years ago. Since that time, my dogs have protected all my stock, not just the poultry. No pens/corrals here--all roam free.

A rooster is no protection for all the predators here. Folks have told me their roosters have been taken.


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#88328 - 02/24/10 06:04 AM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: C. G. McCary]
Mike Livingston Offline
New Egg

Registered: 02/08/10
Posts: 3
Loc: Southwest Michigan
I put up an imitation owl over the chicken yard where the light Brahmas forage and haven't lost any more of them. I've lost about 10 bantams. The predator attacks during the late morning on sunny days. It kills the chicken and eats all the flesh off the neck and head. On a small bird it takes part of the breast.

Do owls hunt in the day time? I thought they were more of an early evening and very early morning hunter. Generally, the dead chickens are up against the front of the garage or by the foundation of the house. The attacks come about once a week.

I try to go out and move around the place in the morning, and I think it helps. But one time I was feeding some scratch feed to the Brahmas and a small hawk killed a bantam on the other side of the barn and flew off before I could run around the barn. I saw it flying away. It had about a 3-foot wing span. I know because the uprights on the side of the barn are on 4-foot centers, and the bird soared between them with a few inches clearance on each wing. I closed in the barn for the winter and will open it up for air flow in the summer.

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#88329 - 02/24/10 07:59 AM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: Mike Livingston]
Bushman Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/25/07
Posts: 1047
Loc: Wisconsin
Owls are nocturnal. Sounds like you have a hawk problem. A good dog to guard the birds would be one possible solution.
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#88336 - 02/24/10 07:10 PM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: Mike Livingston]
Rogo Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 12/05/03
Posts: 469
Loc: Arizona

Not all species of owls are night hunters; some are out in the daytime. I've had them swoop down out of trees and dang near knock me out of the saddle while out riding my mount.

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#88464 - 03/04/10 05:58 PM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: Chip]
Wieslaw Offline
Moderator
Classroom Professor

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 3770
Loc: Denmark
I can't discuss red-tailed hawks as we don't have them in Europe. The only bird of prey that would attack and succeed in killing an adult hen here is the goshawk, but I think the methods of attacking their prey is very similar. While 'there is no hawk-proof poultry' is still valid, there are things that make a difference in my expierence. The choice of the breeds for free ranging is actually quite important. It's not the size and colour that is decisive. It's the alertness, speed and agility that are helpful. Orpington and cochin are not the best choice, they will be the first to go. You should rather forget everything slow, with a big crest, feathers on the feet and so on. The method of attacking described by Uno is mainly typical for peregrine falcons hunting in the air. The speed of the hawk hunting on the ground is not high enough(the bird would risk loosing its own life too.) What happens here is that the prey must be literally caught and the talons must be pierced into a vital organ to kill the prey. The first attack is often not succesful, a hawk can sometimes only catch a bunch of feathers, so it's important to have something where the hens can hide under and be safe. Last place where I lived I had a shed in my orchard.The shed was standing on stones, and under the shed there was a perfect place to hide for the hens. A big dog house can do the trick too, as can some groups of very, very dense bushes. When I was at school I had 12 brown and silver leghorns, which survived totally unsupervised on free range for more than a year(my parents were only feeding and watering them) Many birds of prey have a habit of patrolling their districts on regular basis the same route , so if you experienced an attack at noon, the next one will probably happen at the same time.
Interesting video of an unsuccesful hawk attack can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE_4QpSC1hY&NR=1 ,but with a crow (not for the timid ones)

wieslaw

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#88471 - 03/05/10 09:10 AM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: Wieslaw]
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
I still believe good, big roosters are your best defense. Birds of prey are very wary of being damaged and will avoid confontation with an aggresive rooster. To guard our 55 hens we have five flock roosters, several quite large and all protective. We let our entire flock out to roam our four acres after noon each day when most of the laying (of eggs at least) has been done. There are bald eagles that watch from trees overhanging the property boundary, and cooper's hawks (and other smaller hawks) that make regular passes to check things out. Only times I've lost birds were when bantams jumped the fence in the morning with no male to escort them; I've lost three that way.

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#88569 - 03/12/10 02:02 PM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: IPF]
Oakie Man Offline
New Egg

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 4
Loc: Oklahoma
I had a Red Tail hawk swoop down and break the back of my 5-month-old male Muscovy. I had to go ahead and butcher him because he was in so much pain.

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#94253 - 02/01/11 09:38 AM Re: Hawk proof Poultry? [Re: Wieslaw]
Wieslaw Offline
Moderator
Classroom Professor

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 3770
Loc: Denmark
Originally Posted By: Wieslaw
I can't discuss red-tailed hawks as we don't have them in Europe. The only bird of prey that would attack and succeed in killing an adult hen here is the goshawk, but I think the methods of attacking their prey is very similar. While 'there is no hawk-proof poultry' is still valid, there are things that make a difference in my expierence. The choice of the breeds for free ranging is actually quite important. It's not the size and colour that is decisive. It's the alertness, speed and agility that are helpful. Orpington and cochin are not the best choice, they will be the first to go. You should rather forget everything slow, with a big crest, feathers on the feet and so on.


It is from my posting in March last year. To show you what I meant by speed and bushes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQdOIDKTRng

I don't think a Cochin or Brahma would make it.....

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