Monday, December 1, 2008

An Unfamiliar Predator........

We keep guinea fowl on the farm for several reasons. The main reason being tick and bug control. The guineas also make great watch dogs and are quick to sound the alarm when they sense something present that does not belong on the farm whether it's an animal, car, person, etc.

As we approached the garage returning from our walk in the woods, the guineas were in the duck yard and they were squawking up a storm and the ducks were all wound up as well. We thought at first the guineas were just hollering at us and in turn, agitated the ducks. As we passed the garage and approached the side of our house, I saw a shadow out of the corner of my left eye fly up into the pines. My chicken house is on the south side of the garage with a large enclosed run off the back that keeps my chickens contained. It does not have wire covering the roof. We searched the pines and shortly discovered a large rough legged hawk up in a pine tree about 50 feet in the woods. He didn't seem afraid and he wasn't in a hurry to leave either.

We then checked our run and discovered that the hawk had killed one of my Black Australorp pullets inside the run. Their were feathers all over the yard where he had plucked her neck completely bare and had sliced her neck wide open. It was apparent that he wanted us to leave so he could come back and finish his meal.

In all the years we have lived here, hawks have never been a problem. We see them in the distance once in awhile and have even seen an eagle or two but they have never bothered my chickens or my guineas. I keep the hens in the large run now all day so they don't lay their eggs all over the farm. It appears my only option now is to put chicken wire over the top on the roof to keep the predators out. I felt really bad about that hen - this is a nice batch of pullets and it's not cheap to raise them.

chicken run


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

We have had the same problem over the years. Last year, an owl broke throught the netting, and killed a hen and the rooster who was trying to attack him. This was during the night. Grrr.

I wish some of the people demanding free range for chickens before they will buy eggs, could see and have to clean up the mess from a predator.

The hawk will just have to dine elsewhere on Tylerfarm!

Nancy K. said...

Nature is SO cruel! I'm sorry you lost the hen. It looks like you have a nice safe enclosure for your chickens now. I've only got 4 chickens and they are "free range" but never wander far from the barn and always stay inside at night. I'm sure that if I had more, I'd be feeding the predators as well...

Your title photo is absolutely breathtaking!!!

Christy said...

I'm sorry you lost a chicken. I let mine range now but I do worry about overhead predators. I haven't seen any here yet, but make sure my chickens have somewhere they can run and hide should something fly overhead. I want to get some guineas. Do you just let them roam all the time?

threecollie said...

So sorry to hear of the loss of your hen! Every now and then we have a hawk come a hunting, but not often. Had a goshawk once, my, he was bold!

DayPhoto said...

I had to fence to top of our run, crows and hawks were a problem. They didn't get anyone (I lost some to skunks...ugh) but before they could Terry fenced the top in for me.

I know the feeling, that sick feeling, of losing a great bird friend...


Deb said...

I read an article about a turkey farm next door in NH where owls were a huge problem....they were losing 40 to 50 turkey poults at a time. I never realized they were such a predator problem. They had overhead netting and the owls were just slicing right through it. Nasty critters!
Mr. Hawk can go live elsewhere if it's up to me! :)

Nancy K,
Your right about nature - I know I've been lucky all these years. I'll feel better about my enclosure once we get the chicken wire over the top. That hawk went right into that enclosure and killed my hen...I was so mad!

The title photo is one of my favorites...I waited until thanksgiving was over before I changed it. I always feel like winter has arrived after thanksgiving :)

My guineas roam wherever they want during the day. The have a guinea house that they go into and roost just before dark. I close the door after night chores and open it first thing in the morning.

Thanks - I knew very little about hawks until the other day. I was fascinated by his color markings and his skill. I hope he never comes back but they are skillfull hunters, no doubt about that.

I didn't realize skunks would kill chickens. Hopefully I'll get the run covered before any of this hawks friends come looking for a meal.
Any loss on a farm is a big loss even if it's a chicken.

Joanna said...

Sounds like those guinea's were on the job. Only reson I don't have some is because we leave in a rural neighborhood and afraid they'd disturb the neighbors.

Rather than poultry fencing on the top, we use a light-weight covering.