Why do we need another chicken blog or forum?

Many chicken forums are moderated to sell commercial feed, chemicals and ideology.
I prefer to find my own balance between nature, welfare and cost in raising happy chickens.

Friday, December 2, 2011

goshawk protection

It's not just actual attacks that harm chickens; fear and stress stop the birds eating and can open the door to other problems. Unfortunately the goshawks in this area have a penchant for harassing my birds even with the pens fully netted. Indeed yesterday the goshawk didn't fly away until I was about ten feet from it. The chickens were almost injuring themselves trying to hide.

I realised it was time to give them some extra cover. So I wheeled the ancient barrow into the pen, and also rigged up a corrugated iron-roofed shelter using some cut pine logs and 2 spare planks. The roof is screwed onto the planks, which are long-nailed into the stumps; it's not going anywhere.

While it took the birds a while to get comfortable with the new arrangement, they were soon happily perching on top of the obstacles and also checking out the under-side. If the goshawk comes back, at least the birds will have a visual barrier between themselves and the eye of doom. As for the goshawks, they'll never leave the pens completely alone. But at the moment, as long as the netting stays intact, they can't get in, and even if something tears a hole in the netting the birds have got some chance of evading the talons.

I don't know if these things would work on free range, but it seems to me a goshawk would have a lot of trouble chasing prey under a low roof. If I ever free range again, that's what I'll do.


Kath said...

Hi Erica,

I'm another chicken nut who enjoys your blog.

Now that I'm out on proper acreage I keep a small flock of guinea fowl in with my chickens. They went in with some younger chickens at six weeks old and totally integrated with the flock.

They all roost in a locked shed at night and are fully free range during the day.

I know there are dingos, foxes, wedge tailed eagles, hobbys, falcons, goshawks, goannas, pythons and black snakes around because I've seen them all, but between the guinea fowl and a couple of lazy kelpies so far I haven't lost anything older than a three week chick. They do have lots of good places to go and hide from things in the sky though.

I must add that guinea fowl are not recommended in an urban environment. They really do scream.


Erica Bandanna said...

Hey Kath, thanks for the comment. That's a really lovely setup you have there (gorgeous old sheds etc).

I think here the goshawks are such a nuisance because of the huge tall trees right up against our backyard fence. The hawks have lots of cover and can come in low and in hiding like assassins. Your place seems a lot more open, so perhaps the chickens can see what's coming a lot more easily.

Gorgeous silkies too. Some look gelled into hair spikes!

Thanks so much for sharing. :-)