Protecting Chickens from Hawks: A Comprehensive Guide

A red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) flying fast down toward its prey

A hawk swoops down and tries to get your beloved chicken. Such a headache! We need to keep our chickens safe from hawks. Your chickens depend on you to keep them safe. They can't protect themselves. 

We'll talk about things you can do in this comprehensive guide. Keep reading to learn how to safeguard your chickens from hawks.


Understanding Hawk Threats

Hawks are good at hunting. It's in their nature. They fly high in the sky and look for small animals without protection on the ground. They don't mean to be mean, but they need to eat. 

Unfortunately, for someone who's trying to raise chickens, hawks can be a big problem!

Hawks can swoop quickly from the sky, attack your chickens, and even carry them away. 

That's why it's important not to wait for a hawk attack but to protect your chickens now. 

This is what we call being "proactive." Being proactive means you do something before a problem can happen. 

In this case, you must ensure your chickens have good shelter and are safe long before you see a hawk flying overhead.


Building A Sturdy Chicken Coop - The First Defense

Use Strong Materials

  • Strong wood or metal for the walls and doors
  • Solid wires for the windows
  • Metal or hard plastic for the roof

Make sure everything is put together well. Keep an eye out for any holes or weak spots. Fix any soft spots or holes right away.

Use the Right Fence. The size of the fence you use matters a lot. You need to use a fence with small holes. This way, hawks can't get their heads or claws through. It's best to use a fence with one-inch or smaller holes.

Cover the House. Having a good roof is essential. It keeps hawks and other birds that might hurt your chickens out. If your chickens are allowed to go into a fenced area outside, make sure to cover that, too. You can use a solid roof or a strong bird netting specifically for hawk defense. 

A small, sturdy chicken coop with chickens inside


Guard Chickens from Hawks Using Bird Netting

Using bird netting is one of the best ways to keep your chickens safe from hawks. If the hawks can't touch or get to the chickens, they won't be able to catch them. Make sure you do an excellent job with the bird netting.

Proper installation of bird netting is essential to ensure its effectiveness. Here are some tips for using bird nets:

  • Buy good quality bird netting. It should be firm and resist rain, sun, and wind. Ensure it's strong enough to hold a hawk if one tries to land on it.
  • Put the netting over the area where your chickens are. Consider how big this area is (tall, wide, and long) when you buy the net.
  • The netting should be tight when you put it up. If it's close enough, it will work well. If it's too tight, it might break.
  • Check the netting often for any damage. Fix or replace any parts of the net that have problems so hawks can't get in. Keep the net clean by removing leaves and things stuck in it. This helps it last longer and work better.

One of the best advantages of hawk nets is that they can protect larger areas from birds and can be used for longer periods. Bird netting is set up quickly and easily, and don't waste time. You won't need any additional equipment—efficiency at its finest.

If you're looking for suggestions, this "tangle-free bird netting' might be a helpful starting point as you continue exploring your options.

A hawk netting widely spread and enclosed to flock of chickens


Use Enclosed Areas for your Chickens

Closed areas or chicken runs are necessary for a safe chicken house. They protect your chickens from predatory hawks while giving them space to move.

Below are critical pointers on how to use these areas effectively.

Train Chickens to Use Closed Runs

  • Make a schedule where chickens can walk around when you are watching during safe times, then guide them back to the run for the rest of the day.
  • Give them food and water to get chickens to like the run.
  • Spread some treats or their favorite food inside the run to get them back to it.
  • You need to be patient and keep doing this - chickens will slowly start using the run, especially when they feel scared.


Create Safe and Appealing Runs

  • Add covers like plants, foliage, or chicken-friendly structures to the run. This provides security and beautifies the area.
  • Install varied perches at different heights. Chickens enjoy perching, which offers them safety from ground predators.
  • Have a space for dust baths in the run because chickens like to do this. This gives them another reason to stay on the run and stay busy.
  • The run should be big enough for your birds to move around and flap their wings. A run that is too full will make them nervous and can make them sick or misbehave.

A well-structured run and practical training can protect your chickens from hawks and other threats. It also gives them a friendly place to do their usual things.


Use Scare Tactics to Deter Hawks

Visual Deterrence. You can scare hawks away by using things they don't like to look at. Items that reflect sunlight, like old CDs, strips of aluminum foil, or special shiny tape, can scare hawks. Hang these things around the chicken run. They make bright flashes when the sun hits them. There are also giant balloons with scary eyes on them. The hawks don't like these. Move them around occasionally to make them work better.

Use Dogs to Scare Hawks. Having dogs can keep hawks away, too. Some kinds of dogs are good at guarding. Dogs like Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, or Maremma Sheepdog are big and like to protect animals.

A big white dog sitting on the green lushy grass

Introduce Modern Technology. Lights and sounds that turn on when something moves can scare hawks. They can be powered by the sun and are easy to put up. Some can even be changed so they don't bother your neighbors. Some devices make sounds that only birds and animals can hear. These sounds are annoying to hawks and can keep them away.

Plant Trees or Bushes. This gives your chickens places to hide. Hawks like to catch chickens in open areas. If the chickens can conceal, the hawks might not attack. Plants like thorny bushes or plants with many leaves can help, too. These plants make it harder for hawks to fly down to get your chickens.


Human Intervention to Keep Chickens Safe

Hawks are smart, but you can be more competent. Let's see how watching the time and weather can help keep your chickens safe from hawks.

Watch When You Let Them Outside

Hawks like to hunt at specific times each day. This is usually in the early morning and late afternoon. If you change the times you let your chickens out to avoid these times, your chickens might be safer.

Let your chickens go outside after the hawks have done their morning hunting. Bring them back inside before the hawks start hunting in the late afternoon. Try to be out with your chickens. Hawks might not come near if they see you out there.


Watch the Weather and Time of Day

The weather can change how hawks act. Hawks like to fly in the wind so that they might hunt more on windy days. If it's windy, keeping your chickens inside or under cover might be safer.

Hawks also like to hunt when it's bright outside because they have good eyesight. On cloudy days or at sunset when it's not as bright, hawks might also not see. 


What To Do If Hawk Attack Your Chickens?

Even with all the safe practices, hawks may try attacking your chickens. It's essential to have a plan for what to do if this happens. 

Here are some steps to handle a hawk attack and keep it from happening again.

Stay calm: Keep your cool. Running or yelling might scare the hawk and cause more problems for your chickens.

Get your chickens: As quickly and safely as you can, get your chickens back into their safe house. This will keep them out of harm's way.

Scare the hawk: Once your chickens are safe, you can try to scare the hawk away. You can clap your hands, bang pots, or spray water at the hawk.

Check your chickens: Look over them to see if they got hurt. If any did, take them to the vet if necessary. Even minor injuries might get infected if not taken care of.

Fix any problems:

  1. Look at your yard and chicken-safe house.
  2. See if anything might have let the hawk get to your chickens.
  3. Fix these things right away to keep hawks out.

Keep a closer eye: Watch your chickens more for a few days after an attack. Hawks might try again if they've caught a chicken before.

Ultimately, having a plan for what to do if a hawk attacks can keep your chickens safer. Every step you take helps to keep them safe.


Final Word

Protecting our chickens from hawks can be a big job, but with the proper steps, it can get easier. 

To sum it up:

  • Building a sturdy coop with a secure top
  • Adding effective bird netting for extra protection
  • Creating a covered run
  • Teaching your chickens to seek safe spots
  • Using scare tactics to deter hawks
  • Staying vigilant and protecting our chickens
  • Promptly addressing any issues that arise


These measures combine to form a robust defense against future hawk encounters.

We hope you'll apply these guidelines to craft a haven for your cherished chickens, shielding them from the threat of hawks.

 As you're considering added security like bird netting, you might find specific options like this "tangle-free bird netting" intriguing. Go check that out.

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