I am using laying hens to scarify the soil in my woods while I thin from below.  This is part of my silvopasture development plan.  The chickens are doing a great job (pictures and video soon) and I haven't had any problems all summer until a couple days ago.  We use electrified poultry net running about 3000 volts and check the fence daily for limbs and branches.

We had one rooster who did a good job of positioning himself between the hens and us at feeding time.  He was attentive and protective.  We found him in the brush pile without a head. I am trying to identify the predator so I can increase protection for the flock.  Two options seem possible, one a raccoon who climbed a tree beside the fence and jumped in, or a bird of prey, hawk, that flew in.  The chickens are in an enclosed chicken tractor at night.

The hens have been unsettled since, and mostly crowd in the brush pile or the chicken tractor.

Ideas?

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Pete-

I've had hawks and owls take heads off chickens. After the 'attack from above' the chickens did stay put inside for awhile and wouldn't come out.

A bigger problem I had was a weasel that got into the coop and took heads off at night.  The weasel got  17 hens in 3 nights before I got him.

Jeff

Jeff:

How did you know it was a weasel vs. hawk?  How did you trap the weasel or deal with hawks?

thanks,

Pete

Pete-

Determining weasel vs avian predator was easy.  The birds where in the coop when the weasel struck, at times it was a blood bath.  Chicken livers on 110 conibear finally got the weasel.  Hawks vs owl is harder to tell.  I've seen the owl with a chicken in the early morning, had one get stuck in the fenced pen [you want to see chickens get worked up, but an owl in their pen], and have the hawks dive bomb chickens.  I've had birds taken with just a feather left and birds left with the heads gone.  We have hawks around all year but pressure in the spring and Septemberish is generally higher due to the number of hawks migrating through.  

Jeff



Peter Smallidge said:

Jeff:

How did you know it was a weasel vs. hawk?  How did you trap the weasel or deal with hawks?

thanks,

Pete

Great, thanks.

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