Well-fed chickens are a welcome meal for birds of prey. Especially in the cold season rooster and hens are endangered. Because of migratory birds from the north are more predators in our latitudes. Besides, the natural food supply is scarce in the winter time. In order to protect your animal stock from the access of buzzard, hawk and Co. To protect your chickens, you can do a few things. Here you can learn how to keep the chicken thieves away from your poultry.
Bird loss due to birds of prey
Losing animals is always an unpleasant affair. Four-legged predators such as foxes, martens or dogs are generally responsible for more bird losses. But also by birds of prey danger threatens your feathered bipeds. Open runs that are unprotected from above provide easy access for birds of prey. Especially when there are not enough hiding places for the flock of chickens. There are anecdotal reports of birds of prey snatching a chicken a day until eventually there is nothing left to snatch.
The birds of prey are smart, and observe the daily routines on the farm closely. In favorable conditions, they can fly right in on a flock of unprotected chickens and attack not just once, but come back again and again. Especially old and sick chickens as well as offspring are endangered. Chicks, sick and co. you should treat in this respect therefore with special attention. And take appropriate measures to keep the predators away and to keep your losses as low as possible.
Which birds of prey strike chickens?
Probably the best known is the hawk, which is also called chicken hawk because of its preference for hen and rooster. In addition, eagle, buzzard, owl, hawk and red kite are also among the predators. Small chickens, both juveniles and small breeds such as bantams, are also at risk from another bird of prey, the sparrowhawk.
Since birds of prey have to be clever in hunting, they remember where it is especially easy to get something. In addition, the birds of prey have a crop. So they can take more food than they need at the moment. In individual cases, it is possible that the birds of prey eat a supply, so to speak, and strike more chickens than necessary.
Birds of prey are creatures of habit. They maintain certain flight times and come to the henhouse every day if the loft is always opened at the same time of day. Farmers and chicken farmers even report that many a bird of prey is already waiting on the roof for the chicken flap to finally open. For the chickens a lurking predator means stress. Sometimes in such cases there can be panic and crowding in the coop, and even feathered victims.
This can be prevented by varying the times for the run from day to day. This way the bird of prey does not recognize a "temporal pattern" and does not target your chickens. In addition, in winter you can limit the time spent in the outdoor enclosure. Because in the cold season chickens are a particularly attractive prey for birds of prey.
Tips for protecting your chickens from birds of prey
Tip #1: Tighten the net from above. The most effective protection of your chickens against birds of prey like buzzard, hawk and Co. is a net that you stretch over the closed enclosure. How to prevent attacks from above. So that neither goshawk nor the somewhat smaller sparrowhawk can enter, the net should have a mesh size of less than 10 cm.
Tip #2: Do not leave gaps in the enclosure fence. Birds of prey are clever and hunt even on the ground. It is not uncommon for chicken thieves to circle the enclosure on foot looking for loopholes. If the predator finds a gap, the cackling is big. Nevertheless, usually not all chickens make it back to the protective coop in time. So go in search of holes in the fence. There should be no holes between the net on top and the fence either. A few centimeters are enough for a bird of prey to enter the enclosure. Much less than a fox or dog needs.
Tip #3: Pull a double fence. If your existing fence has a fairly large mesh size, a bird of prey can prey on a chicken sitting too close to the fence from the ground, even if the fence itself has no holes. A double fence, for example made of rabbit wire, helps to protect against it. Alternatively, you can seal the lower part of the enclosure with boards.
Tip #4: Create shelter. Chickens are flight animals. If the rooster or a hen gives the warning call, all the hens flee and hide. In modern chicken keeping, an open run without hiding places is common, even though it is not really in keeping with the nature of chickens. Especially in large areas that can not be covered with a net, hiding places reduce the risk. To prevent birds of prey from attacking unhindered, roofs made of wooden boards mounted flat above the ground are helpful. Also by creating other shelters you prevent greater losses of your animals during raptor attacks.
Tip #5: Make access to the chicken coop difficult. If you cannot completely secure the run enclosure, you should at least make access to the coop difficult. A proven method is a textile curtain. Chickens learn very quickly to accept the new obstacle. Birds of prey, however, are deterred in the long run and are guaranteed not to fly into the coop in pursuit of chickens.
Tip #6: Acquire four-legged helpers. There are chicken farmers who put donkeys, horses or cattle with the chickens to scare away chicken thieves. Dwarf goats that run between the hens are said to be particularly successful. Dwarf goats are low maintenance, defensible and can deter birds of prey with their predictable movements.
Alternative means of protection demystified
Allegedly, other means and tricks are also used to protect the chickens from birds of prey. For example, colorful ribbons, reflective balls and CDs or color sprays to color the plumage were discussed in this context. However, experience shows that these means do not lead to success – the birds of prey do not scare them away! This is due to the high learning ability of prey predators. Through careful observation, they learn that inanimate defenses pose no threat to them.