Keeping chickens is becoming increasingly popular as many people are growing weary of factory farming. Chickens are easy to care for, will eat most things, make their own bedding and, if you allow it, they will give you great pleasure.
However, keeping chickens presents some unique challenges. Not least of these is the threat from birds of prey such as hawks and falcons, who find your free range hens a very tasty morsel to add to their diet. In fact, many chicken owners have woken up to find that their chickens have been abducted overnight by a hungry hawk or owl. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your chicken from hawks.
10 Tips on How to Keep Hawks Away From Chickens
1. Install an electric wire on top of the fence
The most effective way of keeping hawks away from your chickens is to install an electric wire on top of the fence that contains them. Just about any bird predator will be put off by this deterrent, which will also keep the foxes at bay.
If you are in a reasonably isolated spot you can get away with having just the one wire, but if not, you will need to have a wire every three feet or so. This is by far the most effective way of keeping hawks away from your chickens and takes only a day to set up.
2. Make noise with a dog kennel
If you are in an area where there are many hawks it is best to make as much noise as possible when they are around, discouraging them before they can get anywhere near your chickens. Installing a dog kennel on the fence containing your chickens will usually do the trick. Hawks will spot it from afar and avoid it altogether or wait until nightfall when your dogs aren’t around!
3. Install motion detector lights both outside & inside
This is probably the most effective hawk deterrent of all but also takes quite some time to set up. It is a good option if you have more than one or two hens. Simply wire a light that comes on whenever there is movement outside the coop at night, and another that comes on inside the coop as soon as it gets dark inside too.
Hawks will also see these lights from afar and be frightened of approaching your chickens under any circumstances. In fact, it might keep other predators away from your birds too!
4. Install an owl decoy
A rather unusual way of keeping hawks away from your chickens is to install an owl decoy that actually looks like an owl in a place where they can see it easily and often throughout the day and night. You can purchase realistic looking ones with big staring eyes that move from side to side as if watching you.
Owls are a natural predator of hawks and will prey on any they see, so instead of preying on your chickens, the hawks soon learn that there is more chance of an owl getting them than you!
Varying the height of where your chickens roost at night or perch during the day can also be very effective in keeping predators such as owls and falcons away from your poultry. Hawks usually attack from behind so roosting high up with their backs against something solid such as a fence or wall can help. Chickens tend to perch rather than roost anyway but some owners find that changing the location where they sleep at night helps too.
5. Installing a fence on top of your existing fence
Another way of protecting chickens from hawks is to install a second wire on top of the first one. This wire needs to be about 18 inches lower than the original and should also be electrified, hopefully preventing the hawk from making contact with any part of either fence.
It can be quite difficult for birds of prey such as falcons to make that final swoop downwards at speed, so by lowering the height of one or both fences, they may give up trying altogether.
6. Build your coop behind something solid such as a wall
Hawks usually attack from behind so if you build your coop directly against a solid surface such as a wall or bush, this gives them nowhere to hide and nothing to perch on. They will usually be frightened away before they can get anywhere near your chickens, unless they are extremely persistent in which case the other deterrents mentioned above should also prove useful.
7. Using net curtains
Net curtains are another good way of preventing hawks from killing chickens. They can be fitted to the outside or inside of a coop window and should only be put up when the hens are inside as they won’t really offer much protection otherwise. The fine mesh should stop any bird of prey getting close enough to attack but should also allow light inside for your chickens to see by.
8. Place a fake snake close by
A rather unlikely looking method of scaring off hawks is placing a fake plastic snake just outside your coop where it can be seen easily from overhead. Hawks will see the snake and know that there’s more chance of landing next to it than inside the coop with their intended prey!
9. Use strong smelling plants such as lavender and rue around your area
Hawks and other predators such as foxes and weasels hate the smell of these plants and will avoid an area containing lots of them. The more you can use, the less likely your chickens are to be preyed on, so it’s well worth growing some if you can. Lavender also helps keep moths away from your clothes and rue is used in many herbal remedies too!
10. Make sure there are no trees near your coop
Sturdy branches that hawks can land on close to where your chickens sleep should be cut off immediately. There should also be nothing for a hawk or other bird of prey to hide behind or swoop down upon your birds from high up either. It really isn’t practical (or safe) to remove all trees completely but reduce their numbers very high up on your agenda at least.
Also Read: How To Keep Birds Off Porch
Although hawks and other predators such as owls and weasels can be a real pest, there are many things you can do to scare them off. Using the deterrents mentioned in this article should give you a good chance of keeping all but the most persistent birds of prey at bay.