Protecting Free Range Chickens From Hawks

Looking to protect your chickens from hawks? Then you definitely want to read this post!

Of all the predators that will go after your free-ranging chickens, hawks are one of the most challenging to deal with. So, I put together my favorite 9 TIPS for keeping your chickens safe from hawks.

Just keep in mind that some of these tips might or might not work to scare off the hawks, so it’s best to use multiple defense methods.

Roosters

Roosters can make great bodyguards. Some roosters may even attack and fight off hawks!

If a rooster sees a predator, he’ll usually crow and steer the hens in a safer place. Then, he’ll typically pace in front of them, keeping them together until the hawk is gone.

But before you get a rooster, make sure you’re not breaking any local bylaws and ordinances. Roosters can be rather noisy and annoying to neighbors.

Dogs

Well-trained dogs can be great at guarding chickens against hawks. Just make sure that your dog is gentle with your chickens before you leave them alone!

Scarecrows

You can also buy scarecrows and place them around, where the chickens free range. Hawks are also scared of owls, so another thing you can do is place fake owls (decoys).

Just make sure to move your scarecrows around every couple of days. You don’t want the hawks to figure out your scarecrows aren’t real people or real owls.

I’ve also heard that having your chickens near goats or horses works like having scarecrows, but I have yet to test this on my own.

Shiny Objects

Shiny hanging objects can confuse hawks. People use things like scare tape, pie tins, disco balls, strips of aluminum foil, and old CDs/DVDs. Just hang these from things like tree branches and posts.

If you don’t want your yard to look too much like a junkyard while hanging these things, you might want to buy something that looks nice. Check out things like bird repellent scare rods or these sound emitting, reflective owls on Amazon.

Caution

Don’t use mirrors. They might catch something on fire!

Shelters

If a hawk is near and the chickens are far away from their coop, it’s important that they can run into a shelter and hide.

You can make shelters with almost anything. Be creative!

I use little, colorful dog houses. But you can also use things like lawn chairs, wooden boxes, ladders, and barrels.

Cover Their Run

If you have a run for your chickens, make sure it’s covered.

Chicken wire and hardware cloth work great for this because it’ll protect them from hawks but the hens will still be able to see through it and enjoy their surroundings.

You can also use tarps if you want to give your chickens some shade.

If you’re not an expert woodworker (like me) but you’re still thinking of building your own coop and run (it’s really not that hard!), you might want to check out my favorite do-it-yourself chicken coop eBook called “Building a Chicken Coop“. You’ll save tons of money and your coop will most likely be of higher quality than a store-bought one.

Covered Feeding/Watering Station

There’s nothing easier for hawks than to go hunting for chickens when they’re all gathered together to eat their feed or treats. So, it’s a good idea to make a covered feeding/watering station to protect your chickens when they’re trying to eat.

Fishing Line

You can run fishing line (Amazon) from tree to tree (at about 7 feet high) where the chickens free range. Run the fishing line in a diamond pattern, forming a web, with the spaces between the lines at about four feet or so. It won’t work 100% of the time, but it helps to reduce hawk attacks.

Caution

Fishing line deteriorates. So, make sure you keep an eye out for broken lines.

Supervision

If hawks are often spotted and a real threat to your chickens, I also recommend to only free-range your chickens when you can be there to supervise them. You’re the best scarecrow!

I often supervise my hens MUCH more when I see hawks in the spring. For some reason, they’re a real problem for me and my chickens each morning, in spring.