How to respond to a hawk threat
QAt the beginning of March, my rooster was killed by a hawk. My hens would not come out of the coop for a fortnight afterwards and I also noticed a significant drop in egg production. As the days became longer in April, egg production increased again until last week when the hawk returned and attacked one of my girls. Since the attack, egg production has fallen again.
I am working on preventing further attacks but why have the hens stopped laying?
AJulie Moore says: It’s highly likely that your lack of eggs is due to the hawk. Predator attacks can cause a lot of stress on your flock.
By losing their ‘leader,’ your hens are understandably going to feel vulnerable and insecure and therefore not want to venture outside. Every time you lose a chicken, the whole dynamics of the flock changes which causes stress on the remaining flock members. Chickens are creatures of habit and routine and particularly dislike change.
Hens are extremely sensitive to stress and typically respond to stresses by stopping egg laying. Losing flock members and predator attacks can adversely affect egg production.
Are you able to pen your hens in a covered run to discourage a hawk? If the land they free-range on is too large to net, you could hang CDs from trees, make a scarecrow that can be moved around regularly (hawks will soon realise it’s not real if it remains in the same spot for too long!). You should try to minimise the landing area for the hawk by planting trees, placing garden furniture or anything that blocks a low flight path for landing.
If your hens free-range, it is possible the hens have changed their laying habits so check that they are not laying elsewhere.
Moving a scarecrow around can help