One of the first things I wanted to know as a new chicken-owner was how to protect chickens from hawks. I live in the country, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. On a sunny day, I may have about 6-7 hawks circling my property. You know, they just fly in large lazy circles. Usually, they stay high enough up to where you don’t consider them a threat, but then swoop in when your back is turned.
Chickens are easy prey for hawks. But, chickens do have built-in predator alarms. i.e. anytime something flies over their heads, they are running for cover. This is shown from birth, as you know if you have raised baby chicks. When they were chicks, if I were to even bend over their brooder just to feed them, they had a mini-freak out session.
First, story time!
Okay, I do admit that I have “used” hawks against my chickens before. Please don’t think I’m a bad chicken-mama. If you know my story, my husband and I decided to get chickens. We purchased 26 of them with no coop built. So they lived in my garage. For six months. The poop smell was disgusting.
So, we would open the garage doors for the chicks to explore and for the garage to air out. In order for me to get the chicks back into the garage, I played hawk sounds on my phone. The chicks would immediately run to shelter back in the garage. I’d close the garage and go to work. Sneaky, I know.
My chickens have done surprisingly well for all that I’ve put them through. (No, really, they are my babies, I treat them very well). So far, I have not lost one chicken to a hawk, given how much country space I live in. But, I attribute this to owning roosters, which I will get into later.
Hawks are birds of prey and love a little chicken snack. They are day hunters, but will hunt in the early morning or at dusk. This is not ideal for chickens, because this is when they are also active and out and about.
Hawks have a high IQ and have extremely keen eyesight. They can spot prey from far away. When their prey is found, they swoop down and kill the prey on impact with their talons. Then the prey is carried away to be eaten.
If a hawk comes down to eat a chicken, there may actually not be any signs that the chicken was taken. There may not be any blood or feathers left on the ground. If you think a hawk took one of your chickens, count them every so often to see if you are missing one.
How to Protect Chickens from Hawks
Put netting over your chicken run
This is the best and most effective method of protecting chickens from hawks. Simply put netting or wire over the chicken run. This will effectively deter any hawks from swooping in to get a chicken. The added bonus is that your chickens will stay in the run if they’ve previously escaped over the top (mine escape all the time this way).
Get a Rooster to Protect Chickens from Hawks
A rooster’s main job is to protect the ladies. His second job is to crow 24/7 and annoy his owners. All jokes aside, roosters do a very effective job of deterring predators. For one, the crowing alerts predators that the king is home. For two, a rooster will attack anything that he believes is a threat. They grow spurs for this reason, which are a very effective weapon. As such, roosters will attack hawks and protect the chickens.
Get a Goose to Sound the Alarm
If you don’t know, geese are very loud. They squawk at everything that moves. That’s why geese are called “the watchdogs” of homestead animals. If a goose sees a hawk flying above, he’s alerting the whole barnyard that predators are around.
Get a Guinea Bird
Guinea birds are also known for being obnoxiously loud. These birds can spot hawks circling around and their call is known to frighten hawks away alone.
Provide Shelters for Chickens
Like I stated above, chickens need easy access to shelters to hide in if there are hawks around. If you are free ranging chickens, then place small shelters around your property for the chickens to easily run to in case of a hawk attack.
In addition, keep feed underneath a shelter. While chickens are eating, their heads and their guards are down. They will not see a hawk coming while eating. I keep my feed inside of the coop and have the chickens eat in there.
Protect Chickens from Hawks by Getting a Guard Dog
A good guard dog is a dog that can be around farm animals and knows that it’s their job to protect the farm. A great dog for protecting chickens that my friend uses is a Great Pyrenees. She has every kind of animal and swears that this is a great dog for protecting her entire farm. Guard dogs are intimidating to hawks and are a good way to scare away potential predators.
Hang Shiny Objects to Scare Hawks
Another method to protect chickens from hawks is that hawks do not like shiny objects. Hanging shiny objects will scare hawks away. You can use anything that is shiny, like a pie tin, metal reflectors, bird scare tape, etc. Hang the objects around where your chickens will be, on trees, or on the coop.
Put out a Plastic Owl to Scare Hawks
Hawks and owls do not mix. They are enemies and hawks will avoid owls. I have 4 plastic owls that I have around my property, which work as effective measures to protect my chickens from hawks. This is a very simple, easy, and cheap solution to protect chickens.
Conclusion on Protecting Chickens from Hawks
By using at least one or two of these simple methods, you can easily protect your chickens from hawks. Depending on the size of your homestead will determine which methods you can use. I give props and two thumbs up to you if you can do all of them! It worth it to make sure that our chickens are being kept safe.