Do Owls Eat Chickens? Learn How to Protect Your Flock from Owl Predators


Three medium -sized owls sitting on a branch


"Do owls eat chickens?" This question might cross your mind as you hear the hoots echo while tending your precious flock.

Chickens add life to our homes and hearts, making their safety our priority. Unfortunately, the threat is real, with owls hunting silently after sundown.

This blog post will show you how to tackle your concerns and overcome obstacles.

We'll discover the world of owls, understand why they might find your chickens attractive, and educate ourselves about their hunting techniques. 

Most importantly, we will provide practical measures to keep your chickens out of harm's way.

What are the Characteristics of Owls?

Owls are amazing hunters. 

They hunt at night and are best known for their special abilities that make them highly successful. 

Owls have superior eyesight. 

They can see prey from a long way off, even at night.

This excellent vision allows them to spot any movement far away, making finding their prey easier.

Owls have a fantastic sense of hearing.

They can hear even the smallest sounds that might escape other animals. This extraordinary hearing ability helps owls find and target their prey, hiding away at night.

Owls can fly very quietly. 

Their feathers make no noise as they move through the air. 

This silent flight allows owls to move in on their target without making any sound. This gives them the element of surprise when they swoop down to snatch up their meal. Often being small animals and birds, including your chicken.

An owl flying across the farmfield


What Owls Eat?

Owls rank highly in the food chain as top-class hunters. 

They eat a range of meals that include small mammals and birds. Mice and rabbits are among their usual prey. But owls don't stop at land creatures. 

They also catch bats from the air and fish from water bodies.

But, domestic chickens rarely feature in an owl's diet. It's unusual for an owl to see chickens as an attractive meal. Furthermore, it's rare for them to attack and finish an entire flock of chickens in a go.

Even so, owls are opportunistic and might eye a chicken as a possible meal. 

An owl eating a mouse as his prey

Owl Species and Their Capabilities

There is a vast variety of 200 different types of owls spread across different corners of the world. Each one possesses its own set of exceptional hunting traits. These factors play a significant role in what these owls choose to eat.

Generally, an owl's body size and strength are the primary factors determining their prey choice. 

A perfect example to prove this is the Great Horned Owl. Known for its awe-inspiring hunting prowess, this particular owl species can swoop down and carry away animals that are several times heavier than itself.

A detailed look of a Great-horned Owl


Can An Owl Eat a Whole Chicken?

Yes, it's a fact. Big owls, like the Great Horned Owl, can indeed take and eat an entire adult chicken. But this doesn't mean they regularly feast on whole chickens. They usually take what they can carry back to their nest, which is often the chicken's head. 

But they typically happen when a chicken is too large for the owl to lift easily. For the owl, this quest for food is a matter of survival.

 An owl with its mouth preying on a small chicken


Do Owls Eat Chicken At Night?

Yes, owls typically hunt chickens at night. Owls are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are active and searching for food during nighttime. 

Their excellent night vision and remarkable hearing abilities give them an advantage when hunting prey, such as chickens, under cover of darkness.


How to Keep Owls Away from Chickens?

We've got some easy-to-follow tips to keep these night hunters away:

Set up an electric fence 

An electric fence serves many purposes. Along with keeping terrestrial predators at bay, it creates an intimidating obstacle that can deter owls from trying to reach your chickens. The mild shock from the fence isn't harmful but is enough to discourage further attempts.

An electric fence with a yellow danger sign


Make use of bird netting

Bird netting is a straightforward and effective tool. You can easily put it up around your chicken coop. This fence acts like a strong shield, keeping danger out while allowing your chickens to move freely inside.

The best part of bird netting is its small holes. These holes are too small for big birds like owls to get through but are big enough to let air flow in. This way, your chickens can still enjoy the fresh air, sunlight, and view outside, all while staying safe from predators.

a bird netting installed around the chicken flock from above to underground level

Trim nearby trees

Pay attention to the trees surrounding your chicken coop. Owls are attracted to branches for roosting and hunting from a height. By trimming the limbs and thinning out the trees, you make the environment less appealing to owls, which might make them less likely to stick around your coop.

A female farmer trimming branches of a tree

Limit free-roaming time

Keep your chickens' free-roaming activities to daylight hours. As owls are predominantly nocturnal hunters, they will likely attack at night. By securing your chickens in the coop as the sun begins to set, you reduce their exposure to potential owl attacks.

Build a secure, ventilated coop

A well-protected coop can drastically reduce the chances of owl attacks. Ensure the pen is sturdy and well-ventilated to keep chickens healthy and comfortable.

A chicken flock inside a sturdy chicken coop

Is Harming an Owl A Legal Option? 

Harming owls is not a legal option in most jurisdictions. Owls are crucial parts of our natural world, and several owl species are protected due to their endangered status. These unique creatures demand our respect and protection.

Taking action to harm or kill owls can result in serious legal issues, including hefty fines or jail time. So, it's best to avoid taking such steps.

The key is not to harm the owl but to protect your chickens effectively.

Doing this can be a win-win - your chickens stay safe, and the owls continue to play their role in nature.

Final Word

Yes, it's a fact - owls do eat chickens. They hunt at night with extraordinary sight and hearing abilities, swooping down on unsuspecting chickens and often carrying them away with their strong talons.

Though it's rare, we still consider that this avian predator is opportunistic, whichever chances favor them.

But remember, as a chicken owner, your strategic defense can outsmart even the slyest owls. 

Once you've implemented those strategies mentioned, we bet owls will get the 'hoot' and look for dinner elsewhere.

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