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Oh my goodness. Hawks and chickens… 🙄You don’t have to deal with them too often but once you have a hawk that has decided to take up residence around your property you are going to have issues until you deal with it.
Learning how to keep hawks away from chickens takes practice.
The best thing for you to learn how hawks typically behave and when they are likely to come after your chickens.
But I am going to be honest. If you have free-range chickens on a piece of land without chicken wire or some kind of covering over the top. You run the risk of having a chicken hawk come and get them. It’s just that simple.
Chickens are a great source of food for your family, but they are easy targets for aerial predators as well as other natural enemies like coons.
One thing I want to say before I get into these tips.
You have EVERY RIGHT to protect your livestock. Let me say that again for the people in the back.
You have every right to protect your animals.
Yes, it may be the circle of life thing but they are your responsibility and you wouldn’t let a stranger come into your home uninvited. Same with the hawks or any other wild animal that plans to do harm to your flock. So don’t feel bad about whatever form of pest control you choose.
How To Spot A Hawk
You will see a hungry hawk mostly in rural open areas. They are not so much an issue for backyard chickens in town. They are often sitting on telephone wires or fence polls watching for food. Sometimes they will eat small birds but mostly they are watching for mice or other small animals.
If you are watching over your free-range chickens keep an eye on the outer edges where a hawk could be watching from while still staying hidden. This is where you are most likely to spot those chickentender-loving pests.
Cover Your Chicken Run To Keep Hawks Away From Chickens
A chicken run is a fenced-in area that connects to the chicken coop. They enable you to be able open the chicken coop door and let the chickens have some space to roam but they will not be running loose around the entire open area and get into trouble.
Having a covered chicken run is the best way to keep them contained and safe from a hawk attack.
Buuuuttt it’s not always realistic for most people…. If you have nothing covering the run, then a board over part of the run or temporary covering will do for now. Chickens naturally run for cover when they feel threatened. Tall trees are another great option to help protect your flock from predatory birds.
Hawks like to fly into an open area and leave quickly so brush and other types of cover will help deter them from your chickens.
If you do have a small enough space where adding a covering over the chicken yard is an option, make sure there are no gaps between the covering and the fence walls. A determined animal like a raccoon will find its way through.
Add Some Reflective Materials To The Chicken Area
Shiny things are supposed to keep hawks away. Personally, I have not tried these ideas so stick with me. I tend to go with ideas I am sure will work. Like keeping them covered and using more permanent methods of getting rid of the hawks. So there’s that.
Here are some shiny objects you can put up that will help.
- Old CDs
- Reflective tape
- Fishing line
- Old mettle pie pans
- Disposable baking pans.
The main idea with this is to put something up that will make them hesitant to come into the area. These are smart birds and I have seen birds catch on that something doesn’t move from the one spot and come down from their watch anyway.
The idea behind this is that hawks and owls do not hang out in the same territory. While one hunts at night and the other by day they simply don’t get along. So having an owl decoy will cause a hawk to think twice.
Add a Rooster to Your Flock
The rooster naturally watches out for the flock. That is their job. They seem to be far better at spotting flying things than the hens do. If they spot something they will make a special warning noise to tell the rest of the flock.
Roosters have been known to scare off predators however this is a catch twenty-two. If the rooster is going to protect the flock he typically has to be a bit more energetic. BUT that leaves you with a rooster that is likely to challenge you and your family as well.
Which is not cool either. So be willing to remind any roosters you have who’s boss and that coming after humans isn’t tolerated.
They do make great guard animals against a bird of prey but make sure you are careful about the rooster you bring into your flock so you don’t have one that makes you afraid to go into your own back hard.
Provide Some Cover
If you’ve got some trees nearby, use them to create a barrier between your chickens and any potential predator. Trees offer protection against windy conditions and help keep out rainwater, making them ideal shelter for your birds. You could also install bird netting along fence lines to prevent hawks from accessing your property.
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Cover Up Feeders
Your chickens are more vulnerable while they are eating. Their heads are down and they are not paying attention to what is above them. Make sure to cover your bird feeders and water bowls. Or at the very least have them under a tree so the chickens are protected.
The hawks are extremely smart and will watch the feeders and wait for the perfect time to strike. At feeding time there are often multiple birds there at one time leaving multiple targets.
If you covered your chicken’s run area putting their feed in the covered run would be the best idea.
Get A Gaurd Dog
Please be careful with this one. Do not get a breed with any herding instinct and put it with your birds. (Australian shepherds, German shepherds, Australian cattle dogs, and boarder collies just to name a few of the most common ones.)
I see this all the time in facebook groups where people think that all dogs will guard “their property”….. um no. Not all dog breeds are the same. Each breed group was meant for different things.
This will leave chicken owners very disappointed when the dog scares their flock. Or even bites at the bird ultimately killing it. This is what herding dogs are wired to do. Next to you, they are the boss and they are going to make that animal do what ever they want it to do. So we can’t be mad at them for doing what they were made to do.
A large, well-trained guard dog watching over your flock is a great hawk deterrent. A guard dog’s role is the same as a rooster but with enhanced capabilities.
Dogs are larger and stronger than roosters and aren’t easily threatened by hawks.
Great Pyrenees have been used as livestock guardians for hundreds of years due to their natural guarding instinct. However, many other dog breeds make excellent deterrents, becoming hostile when they sense danger. Sometimes, just having a dog in the area is enough to discourage hawks that prefer easy prey.
A Goat Instead Of A Dog
Everyone loves a good excuse to get a goat…🤣
I met a local chicken raiser here in our area and he had a goat in with his birds. Since the hawk didn’t know if it was a dog or not so he never had any trouble. So if this is an option for you it might be worth trying out.
Personal Run-ins With Hawks
All total we have had a run-in with 6 or so hawks in 8ish years. The first one was extremely bold. I look out our bedroom window to see the hawk sitting on our four-foot chainlink fence watching the flock right in the middle of everything.
Another was going after some baby chicks (yes chicken chicks not ducklings) our duck hatched out… that’s a story for another time. Man, was that duck brave. She was not going to let that hawk have her babies.
The most recent one I was walking back from getting the mail and I noticed a bird with its tail going down to the ground ( not up like a chicken) out of the corner of my eye. I quickly realized it was a hawk.
I ran inside to get what I needed to deal with it buck quickly (you imagine what you want to here) and realized it was a young and inexperienced bird. — The way it came after the birds was so obvious and it tried multiple times to get a chicken and failed every time.
Unfortunately losing chickens to larger birds of prey is part of being a poultry owner. Unless you never let the chickens free-range and you coop them up in electric fences all the time. All you can only do what you can and hope for the best.
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