I'm still loosing birds to a hawk and possible other aerial predators. I've moved them to an area with a lot of brushy growth, but an still loosing birds. How the hawk is able to catch them I'm not sure. There is long-ish clearing a few feet wide so I suspect the hawk was able to strike the hen in the clear and maybe just rode her under the brush to finish the job and enjoy the meal.
The chicken tractor concept will not work for me as I have partially wooded areas, not real pasture. The move-able electric fence worked really well until this year until it turned into a hawk feeder. Trying to put a top on a movable paddock arrangement is not something I can see a way to do easily.
At this point I'm getting desperate as I am loosing them faster than I can repopulate the flock. I don't mind loosing a few as a hawk is good for other things as well (rodent population) but this rate is way too high.
You are moving them around, so a protective covering is probably impractical. Do you have a rooster among them? I am led to understand that roosters can cut down heavily on losses to hawks because they are constantly watching to protect the hens and have a special call that warns of hawks so the chickens hit cover quickly. Alternatively, some sort of medium to large livestock dog may be an option. Obviously it would have to be one that is well trained and doesn't mind spending much of its day among chickens, but hawks don't like to strike close to large animals. Especially carnivores. The fact that striking a chicken means they have to stay low for so long makes it especially effective. The hardest part is convincing the dog to hang around chickens all day unmonitored and not eat them.
I do have a couple of roosters, but they are still young only about 5 months old. I'm hoping that will be a solution. In looking back I did have a rooster and I got rid of him because he was mean to me and other people, the rate of loss went way up after he was gone.
Location: Upper Midwest - Third Coast - USDA Zone 6a/b
posted 4 years ago
A movable shelter may be appropriate. Roosters and chickens in general are very alert - when one gives a signal they will run/fly back to the movable coop in record speed. Another deterrent could be a Livestock Guardian Dog that has been raised with poultry. Look for a breeder or farm that specializes in LGDs that work with poultry. My Bear will patrol relentlessly when she's in the electric net fencing with the birds. Some LGDs have a 'skywatcher' instinct. Numerous times I've watched Bear barking in earnest with her head is pointed upward. I look up and see a hawk circling the pasture.
Willing to find out what 'impossible' means.
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
posted 4 years ago
It looks like I am loosing the birds right at the edges of the fenced area. I got some netting that I am using to cover the one area I plan to keep clear. It looks like I need to move the electric fence right up next to the cover brush.