Methods to thwart birds of prey
QI have recently seen birds of prey circling close to my house. Are they a threat to my free-ranging hens?
AJulie Moore says: With the onset of winter, food sources in the meadows and woods are at their barest, which makes your hens a prime ‘fast food’ target for birds of prey. Free-ranging chickens are an easy target for such birds. Shelter and cover may be difficult to find on a smallholding, while nature provides plenty of places for predators to perch and observe. Are you able to pen your hens into a covered area to discourage aerial predators? If the land on which they free range is too large to net, you could hang CDs or reflective tape from trees. Reflective, mirror-like surfaces have long been proved to be effective in spooking aerial predators. Alternatively, make a scarecrow that can be moved around regularly. Beware, however: birds of prey will soon realise that it is not real if it remains in the same spot for too long. You should try to minimise the landing area for a bird of prey by planting trees, placing garden furniture or using any object that blocks a low flight path for landing. The traditional role of a rooster is to protect his flock. At the first sign of danger, he will send out an alarm call that will send his hens scurrying to safety while he stands guard against the threat, real or perceived. Not every local authority allows for roosters, so check first before adding one to your flock.
Planting fruit trees will minimise the landing area for a bird of prey and provide chickens with some tasty treats