When your scarecrow scares you!

Why do we have this life like scarecrow?  This month has been rough for our chickens.  Earlier this month we lost 3 of our guinea fowl and this week 1 laying hen and 2 meat birds.  Until this week, we did not know what was attacking them.  Chickens have a lot of predators from raccoons, coyotes, Opossums, owls, snakes and in our case…the hawk.  This hawk wasn’t quite big enough to carry away our chickens but would leave a scattering of feathers behind in our yard.  It’s one of the worst feelings to see animals we have invested so much into be so easily picked off.  This lead to the quest of finding how we could protect our most vulnerable livestock.

Doing some research on how to keep the hawk away, we came across a quick idea for now until we can implement a better deterrent.   Scarecrows have been long used by farmers to keep birds away so figured it was worth a shot!  I was thinking what a great time of year to pick up a cute fall scarecrow with a dual purpose of keeping prey animals away.  You know what I’m talking about with the sun hat, straw hair and plaid shirt.  Instead, I came home to the scariest homemade scarecrow that literally has both of us jumping when catch it out of the corner of our eyes.  It stands 8 feet tall and looks a little more real than I would prefer.  Its arms are made of aluminum cans light enough they move and ting with a light breeze.  We are on day two and have not lost any chickens so it might be terrifying more than just us!

There are other ideas beyond a scarecrow which would work better in the long run.  One is having a rooster which if you have a good one they will lay down their life for their hens.  We do have one but unfortunately with 50 chickens to keep track of he is well outnumbered and was already in the coop for the night when our laying hen was attacked.  Also, we keep our laying hens separate from meat birds so he is not any help with those attacks.

A guard goose is another way to discourage prey animals and more ideal to implement with our meat birds.  Geese have a long history of acting as guard animals and sounding the alarm when danger is near not only with livestock but history has stories of them being used during war times as well.  The down side is, it may be hard this time of year to find ourselves a guard goose.  Something I will be looking into if not this year than next.

Another idea would be a livestock guardian dog.  These are dogs specifically breed to have strong guardian instincts for whatever animal they have been trained to protect.  A guardian dog is on our list of purchases this fall but we plan on getting one to be in the fields with our goats not the chickens.  It is recommended to only get one dog at a time.  We may see how our guardian dog is this year and possibly get another next year for chickens.   

Until we get either a goose or dog, we will be keeping a vigilant eye on the chickens…or the best we can while working too! 


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