How to Protect Chickens from Hawks

By Deborah Lundin

As a chicken owner, flock safety must be a top priority. Chicken owners often focus on ground predators, such as raccoons, skunks, coyotes, rats and snakes, ensuring that the coop is secure. But the ground is not the only way predators can catch and kill your flock. Hawks attack from the air and require different security measures.

Adding a Protective Cover

The easiest way to protect your chickens from hawk attacks is to block the hawks from entering your chicken run. Covering a small run with a roof of bird or deer netting, hardware cloth or chicken wire keeps the predators from swooping down. With bigger runs, this can be costly, but it's worth the investment to keep the chickens safe.

Bushes and Other Possible Protection

If covering your run is not an option, consider planting a variety of bushes or shrubs around your yard that can provide coverage for your chickens. When the chickens notice a hawk in the area, they can run for cover and hide until it is safe. While this does not guarantee their safety, it provides them some coverage and reduces the risk of an attack. Another option would be to place pallets or other wooden boards throughout the chicken run where your chickens can hide.

Keeping a Flock King

If you live in an area where roosters are allowed, consider adding a rooster to your flock. Roosters protect their flock. They make specific calls when a hawk is in the area, alerting the hens to take cover. In the event of an attack, a large rooster may attempt to fight off the hawk. If you do not have a rooster, a broody hen protecting young chicks will often fight off hawks as well.

Other Animals May Provide Security

A well-trained dog, such as a livestock guardian dog, can also be a great chicken protector. Hawks look for small-animal prey and tend to avoid larger animals. If you have a medium to large dog who gets along with your chickens, let them spend the day outside together. The presence of a large dog is often enough to deter a hawk from swooping down. In addition, your dog may help deter other predators. Another animal option is guinea fowl. These birds can be loud and will alert the rest of your flock to hawks in the area.