How to re­spond to a hawk threat

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

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

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