Crows eating my (supposed to be) free-range chickens.

CindyLouWho(z4 VT)June 10, 2005

I've been lurking here for months reading any and everything on Chickens (published material too). I've also been posting on other forums (mostly building a home) for several years.

So, having done our research, we built a coop, ordered 25 chicks and started the process of raising free-range organic eggs. Well, none of the books that I read talked about crows eating your chickens! Our coop and enclosed run is very secure, but when the chickens are in the yard (hence, "free-range"), the crows swoop down and brazenly take one with people and barking dogs only feet away. We lost 3 today. How do people raise free-range chickens? Is it possible in VT or do we just have too many crows?

Chickens are secure in their coop for the night, and we're headed to Home Depot in the morning to buy supplies to create multiple enclosed runs so that we can rotate pastures. Do we have to go to this extreme or is there a way to let them free-range during the day and protect them from the crows?

We're on 150 acre farm, so space is not an issue. I'd prefer to not use a chicken tractor. I find the idea of moving them daily, daunting.

Any suggestions?

Many thanks

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Exactly what age are these chickens?? I have crows - & even ravens - here in VA, & none of them are even remotely capable of flying off with a fully grown chicken. It's simply not possible. A crow or raven can easily snatch a small chick, but definitely not a grown chicken. Are you absolutely positive you're not seeing hawk, eagle, or even possibly black vulture predation?

You're either misidentifying your predators or your birds are too young/small yet to be let out "on the range".

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 11:13PM
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Jamie_in_Missouri(SW Missouri)

Never heard of such a thing. But the old wives tale goes that crows are tight knit family's so if you shoot one or two and scatter their feathers around you won't have any more problems with them. Never did it and hope to never have to.


Leave me alone PETA people it's just an old wives tale. If you got a problem with my answer gripe at an old wife somewhere.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 11:24PM
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I'm not griping at your answer Jamie, but it IS an old wives' tale. Crows are way too smart to fall for something like that.

And I severely doubt this problem is due to crows anyway - & anything else that's causing it is quite possibly a protected species.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 11:35PM
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qbirdy(z4/5 Central NY)

I am wondering also how old your chicks are. They must still be little babies in order for crows to grab them and take them off. My sister didn't take hers outside until they were 6 to 8 weeks old, that way they were big enough not to be easily taken. We never had trouble with crows.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 12:41AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I would also suspect another bird, likely a bird of prey of some kind--unless the chickens are baby chicks, which crows will be more than glad to take. Possibly you are seeing a small hawk such as a Sharp Shin...? Also, are your chickens standard size or bantams?

We actually encourage our local crows to hang around. They are terrific at driving away hawks--they mob them and call a loud warning which in turn alerts the chickens. We have never had a crow bother our birds at all.

That said, if for some reason it IS crows that are taking your chickens, you are going to have to totally and securely enclose your chickens. Crows are VERY intelligent and will figure out a way to get their meal. But I still doubt if it is a crow if these are grown chickens...

Just so everyone knows--if you kill or attack a crow, especially a youngster, in view of other crows, you are marked for life. They will recognize you the moment you step out of the house and attack you, diving at you and calling loudly. If you attack one of them you are Public Enemy #1, and a crows' attack includes dive crapping you AND your car! :)

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 1:13AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

must be to small to free range, row them on a bit then let them out. Ravens are the largest all black bird in the world, and there is no way a raven could take away a mature chicken.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 3:57AM
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huisjen(z5 ME)

Hi all, I beg to differ with most of you. We lost two full-grown ducks (2.5-3 pounds each) to a pair of ravens a couple of weeks ago. When this happened twice in twelve hours, we shot one of the ravens in full view of the other. We haven't had any trouble since, although the second raven is still around.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 7:41AM
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CindyLouWho(z4 VT)

Thank you so much for all of the answers!

I wish I could state that I'm SURE they are crows, but now you all have me questioning what I'm seeing. We're sure they're not hawks. Do ravens and crows look similar? What we've seen is a large all black bird that is pretty loud.

As for the chicks: they are about 6 week old heavy breeds (Australorps, Wyandottes, Hamburgs). I'm suspecting I'm about to be blasted for letting them roam too early, but my friend informed me last night that her parents full-grown chickens have been carted off by crows.

The thing that shocks me is that the chicks have never been unsupervised when out. I may be new at this, but I don't think I'm a complete nincompoop--I'm very aware we have lots of predators (including our not-so-bright golden retriever who we've been diligently training to PROTECT the chicks). I couldn't imagine that a crow/raven/? would grab a chick while people and a dog were within 10 feet of the chick.

So, is this what I'm hearing: Keep them totally protected until full-grown and then allow them to free-range? What about my friends parents who have had crows take their full grown chickens? Am I doomed to raise only enclosed layers?

Again thanks for the responses.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 7:52AM
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You probably have ravens, not crows. Ravens are the larger of the two.

I have a love hate relationship with ravens. They're intelligent. They can be amusing. But they torment my layers by sitting on the fence and screaming at them because they want the eggs. If the pig doesn't get up to eat her food (lazy breed) the ravens get into it. When the ducks lay in the pen instead of in their house the ravens will steal the eggs if they can get them through the wire. If they can't get them through the wire they'll break and eat them that way. I picked up duck eggs yesterday morning, set them in the grass outside the door and went into the barn to let the goats and cow out. I forgot the eggs until a half hour later when I went back outside and saw one of the ravens eating an egg. They're pests.

My farmcollies chase ravens, crows, heron, turkey vultures and other large birds off the property. One of the collies stands under an apple tree scanning the sky for them. It's his favorite job. Can you let your barking dogs chase the ravens? It could be confusing for the golden but what about the other dog(s)?

The adults are either feeding their young in the nest now or are teaching their young how to find their own food. This could get worse before it gets better. We go from two or three to six or seven for a month or so before they start spreading out into new territory. Then we go back to two or three.

I have a plastic great horned owl guarding the pig's food now. I try to move the owl every day. If I forget the ravens are back in the food. As long as it's moved the ravens think it's real.

Good luck. You'll need it.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 8:31AM
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Turtle_Haven_Farm(Z5 NY)

Six week old heavy egg layers like your breed might be a bit young to let out. They mature more slowly. I have the heavy layers too, some Austrolorps, white rocks, silver laced wyandottes. They're going on 2 yrs now and nothing short of a large hawk or eagle is going to hoist those chunky birds in the air.
Our barn has a heavy growth of pines next to it. I've noticed whenever anything flies overhead, even a blackbird, one or two of them will let out a yell and the whole flock thunders into the pines until the coast is clear. It's kinda funny to watch them. I also have two big chunky roosters with attitude that keep a watch out over their ladies. You might want to try keeping them penned for a few more months, let them get a little bigger. You could get some netting to attach over their runs, or even run some string criss crossed back and forth to confuse the predators. - Ellen

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 10:00AM
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"full-grown chickens have been carted off by crows" Ravens and crows are not raptors, they cannot grasp prey with their feet like a hawk or owl. Ravens and crows eat carrion, insects, berries and bird eggs. Newly hatched birds can be preyed upon but the raven/crow carries this small prey off in its bill.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 10:17AM
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I'm sorry, but as Sam above details, it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE for either a Crow or a Raven to carry off a full-grown chicken. Think of the weight ratio alone for goodness sake. It is completely beyond discussion & is not just a matter of opinion.

Now - young chicks are a different story. And at 6 weeks of age, they are still technically chicks & I could believe a Crow or Raven "possibly" grabbing them. But as Sam also stated, it would be in the beak, not the feet. Crows/Ravens do not carry anything in their feet.

You are definitely letting your chickens outdoors unprotected way too soon. Don't blame the Crows/Ravens/Whatever - it's your husbandry that's at fault here. Either completely enclose your runs - which will prevent future predation from hawks/owls which definitely CAN carry off fully grown birds - or confine what are definitely still "babies" until they are much more mature.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 10:28AM
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My chickens [all show breeds] are let out in large indoor/outdoor pens when they are about 12 weeks old. This includes the bantams which are still smaller, but also very agile.
I am fortunate [still keeping fingers crossed] to not have any aerial predators. The ground attacks are easily thwarted. Yes, I believe any raven can carry a full grown bantam [any breed except Cornish] and a crow can carry off any six-week-old chick, regardless of breed or size. Crows are big birds with large, powerful wings. Ravens are at least 1/3 larger than crows and have a nearly 4' wingspan!

Jamie, the feather story is a myth--otherwise crows woulsd never return to their own roosts and rookeries. However, here's one hint that is NOT a wive's tale and WORKS! Shoot one or two of the offending crows and hang their bodies from a branch, clothesline, horse walker--anything--where the other living crows can see the dead. I'd say on the ground even works, but such will likely disappear quickly via a hungry scavenger.
After that, ABSOLUTELY no more damage from crows to my garden, fruit/nut trees, anything! It sure doesn't bother me to kill only one or two of something--if it means sparing the balance by keeping them away for good.

Huisjen, a warning about crows, ravens and even magpies--many bird books specifically list all of them as chicken and poultry killers. Yes, even magpies, which are still only half the size of crows in net body weight! Now, I doubt full-grown geese or turkeys will fall victim to corvids of any size, but I'll confirm if crows and other corvids are hungry, even grown chickens, ducks and young poults and goslings are in danger.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 10:53AM
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While I doubt that a crow would take a grown chicken I do know that they will kill and carry off small birds. We have both the north american and fish crow here. Crows will and do use their feet to carry food. Fish crows will even take fish, crabs anything else it sees as food right out of water with it's feet. I have seen them carry oranges, comquats, mice, eggs and baby ducks with their feet.

I think I would keep the babies protected a while longer.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 11:57AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

Wow, obviously you guys aren't Dr. Seuss fans! Did you see her name? 'Cindy Lou Who' lives in Whoville and the whole nation fits on a daisy. The chickens are probably about the size of pollen!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 12:46PM
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I'm getting quite a chuckle out of this thread. Someone has been nipping on that ole Kickapoo Joy Juice.
If you want an accurate answer to the crow question open the raptor link provided below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Raptors Forum

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 12:47PM
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MY suggestion would be to make a loud noise (shotgun-sound, blanks,whatever) perferable when the offender appears. Crows are smart and understand danger (nosie) it only takes a few lessons and thats the end of them, i ahve done this on 3 occassions only took 3 times each time to discourage 100-150 crows.......never saw crows attack other birds though ??? wdik

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 9:15PM
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I've watched ravens for several months, and never seen one carry anything edible in it's feet. Even when harassed by other ravens trying to steal food too big for their beak, they don't pick it up and carry it away with their feet. They have been seen carrying sticks with their feet.

Ravens could easily nab a chick and fly off with it, but they don't have a lot of lifting power ... full-grown chickens being "carted off" by ravens or the smaller crows is not going to happen. Raven mobs will attack and kill small animals, even young elk calves, and some will even hunt rabbits or other rodents. However, they can't carry them off - they eat them where they killed them.

You might be seeing a "melanistic" hawk of some sort - a black version of a bird-eating hawk - swooping in and nabbing the chicks.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 1:27PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

be careful, corvids will take out your eyes, they are smart and if they are scared off they may be smart enought to come back for more food, you can tell a raven from a crow by the size or the fact that ravens have a different shape to there beak and are a bit smarter. and in my 18 years as an alaskan I've never seen em carry food with there feet. magpies either.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 6:03AM
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CindyLouWho(z4 VT)

The crow/raven/bane of my existence did NOT take the chicks with their talons. It was definately in its beak.

That said, will I be able to free range these chicks when they're full-grown? They keep looking longingly at the trees they used to perch in...

Thanks again!

P.S. I don't actually live in WhoVille, although at times I wish I did! My "name" comes from a bad building experience (new house had to be torn down due to defective construction and massive structural problems). So when I started posting on "Building a Home" for advise on our nightmare (around the holidays a few years ago), I became Cindy Lou Who who was going to steal back Christmas from the Grinch (aka our builder and architect) for my children.

Wouldn't life be so much simpler if we all lived in a Dr. Seuss book and Horton the Elephant could protect our eggs... :-)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 9:11AM
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erinluchsinger(z4 - Upstate NY)

Breezy... pipe down. You need to relax a bit. CindyLouWho is only looking for advice... not to be blasted.
I let my chickens out at about 6 or 7 weeks of age to free range with no problems. They are now about 14 weeks old and I've still had no problems. In the past 4 years I've always let my chicks start to free range around this age. Granted, they didn't really leave the coop are until they were 8 or 9 weeks old. It took them a few weeks to become a bit more brave!
We have lots of crows and have never seen them harm the chickens.
If you say it was carried off in it's beak, was most likely a crow. We don't have ravens here. I personally hate both.
If I were you, I'd lock 'em up for a week or 2 and shoot any crow that comes into the yard. Here it's not illegal to shoot crows. Infact, a local bar has a "crow shoot", and the person who brings back the most dead crows wins a money prize. The town the bar is in (Auburn, NY), has a HUGE crow problem.
After you shoot 'em... start hanging them from the trees.
Don't know if a few bird decoys (maybe owls?) would help the situation, also?
Keep us posted.
PS... Welcome to the forum.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 9:43AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

CindyLouWho, you should be able to free-range full grown chickens successfully in Vermont. Prince Edward County, Ontario is not so far away and I have been free-ranging my Speckled Sussex chickens for close to a year and a half with no losses. And we have both hawks and crows.

Heavy breed hens are much less at risk than smaller breeds. I believe a good rooster helps protect them, although I know not everyone agrees. I also think that the colour of plumage is a factor; it makes sense to me that white hens are more at risk except in winter. Those trees they look longingly at now will give them considerable shelter from hawks and crows later on.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 9:51AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

Thanks, I just knew you HAD to know about "Whoville".

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 4:53PM
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ash2004(z6 PA)

Maybe you could get some guinea fowl. They make loud noises and might scare them away. They're also very funny to watch. They also eat alot of ticks and other bugs. I also heard that they can kill snakes. I know they're supposed to scare hawks away but maybe the crows or raven are too smart for that. I did have crows eat my eggs but never chickens. I rarely see them around. You could always just shoot the crows too when you see them around if you're sure that's what's getting your birds.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 8:42PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

was it this bird or this one,American.jpg ? I suspect that based on your location and theconsiderable size difference between ravens and crows that it was a raven, although it could still be crows, I guess it really doesn't matter, but here are some differences to keep in mind anyways (I feel like putting sidebets down on the species issue)
" * A raven weighs about four times that of a crow.
* Crows have a wing span around 2.5 ft., and ravens about 3.5-4 ft.
o A raven's wing sometimes makes a prominent "swish, swish" sound, while a crow's wingbeat is usually silient.
* Ravens have pointed wings, while crows have a more blunt and splayed wing tip.
* Crows have a fan-shaped tail (squared-off), while raven tails are long and wege-shaped.
* Besides having a bigger, more powerful bill, a raven's bill is curved, while a crow has a more-or-less flat bill. Additionally, atop a raven's bill is a tuft of hairs absent on crows.
o As a result of being larger and more powerful, ravens are the more efficient predator. (Predation is a very small percentage of crow and raven diets.)

or just go here

Shooting and hanging will work however, if the hanging dead ones dont scare off the others then shoot them and there won't be any more problem, assuming your not up for eating someones soul I suggest you feed it to your dog, cooked of course.

IMHO you did nothing wrong by letting your chickens free range at the age they are at, they are old enought to not get lost and starve at this age and they are not big enought to attract much attention from hawks, getting more diversity in your flock could help and an owl might help (personally I think ravens are too smart for a toy owl to work) and so would netting the entire encloser but they aren't likely to be confused or detered by a few stray fishing lines strung accross the flight path. Corvids are problem solvers, give them some sort of food puzzle and you will see, Good luck with whatever you deside to do.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 1:52AM
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Brendan, bravo on you wisdom and tact. I applaud you in the way you are so helpful and knowledgeable and yet not a pushy, judgemental bully like "some" posters. You are a perfect example of the kind of posters this forum was made for. You just lay out the info for us all to learn and still offer support. Thank you for your kindness!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 9:47AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Thankyou for your kind words Lesli8, but I'm afraid that this post is very unlike me. However, on the topic at hand, do you have any gulls in your area? if you could convince a group of social birds like gulls to nest on your property they would protect there nests and 5-6 gulls protecting nest can chase away a maited pair of ravensI would assume that they would leave your chickens alone however you would be attacked (they rarely ever touch you, but make alot of noise and dive toward you)

Just a though, you'd have to feed em too, but thats doable, I'll keep trying to come up with a workable solution that doesn't involve as much hassle.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 4:30AM
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CindyLouWho(z4 VT)

Thank you all. I've pretty much confirmed with bird people around here that they are crows. So, the chicks are well-confined (though not as happy as before) for a few more months. Then, we'll let them free-range.

Next, worrying about fox, woodchucks, dogs (not ours--she's been protecting the chicks--everytime a crow flies by, she stands guard at the coop and then goes to sleep hidden under the tree) , weasels, pissy neighbors and cars.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 8:02AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

For what it's worth, I will share some details of my experiences with free-ranging chickens. We have 32 acres on a busy two-lane highway. No fences. No dogs running loose either, thank goodness. Lots of hawks, crows, raccoons and some foxes, coyotes, mink and weasels.

The chicken coop is well back from the road and is surrounded by chain-link fence that the chickens happily go over and under. The rooster is the only one who stays inside all the time and his frequent crowing and chortling with excitement when he finds them a gift seems to help keep them from wandering too far.

We have had no losses, as I mentioned previously. I expected some, (indeed, I STILL expect some) but the chickens stay on the property which has mature trees for shade and cover and lots of lawn (that is, mowed grass and weeds). The other day one hen actually crossed the road. Why did the chicken cross the road? The neighbour was mowing his lawn and the hens love to follow Brian on his riding mower to get the pickings so... across she went. That's the only time; the amount and speed of the traffic seems to intimidate them.

Once we had a resident mink but it did not attack the chickens. More interested in the chipmunks and mice. Cleaned out every rat in the place. Still, I worried, and so we live-trapped and relocated it.

Everyone is locked in for the night. The raccoons prowl constantly once it is dark. But... in the daytime, so far so good.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 9:23AM
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I don't have much to add to this thread, although the other day I noticed a few large crows cawing in the trees around my chicken pen, I only have three chickens about 5 months old they are really more like pets then livestock, anyway it struck me as funny when the cawing began all three hid under a cart I had in the pen which was weird to me because I wonder where they figured out how to do that, I wouldn't have thought crows would be a danger to them. but they obviously thought they were in danger. I guess they may be smarter then I give them credit for.

chicken ingenue

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 8:17PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

chicken ingenue, it's more likely that your chickens were responding to the "all-points danger bulletin" that the crows were sending out...the crows probably spotted a hawk, owl or cat which would be a threat to the crows. If you pay attention, smaller birds such as sparrows, starlings, etc. will also hide in the trees when crows are sounding the danger call.

Interestingly, our birds (both the chickens and the wild birds) have taught US how to distinguish where the danger lies. If it's a hawk, all the birds take cover and look to the skies. If it's a land-based predator such as a cat, the birds still call loudly but will stay in the open, the sparrows out in view on the power lines, and staring downwards. Wherever they are looking is where the cat is. *L*

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 10:54PM
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judyag_44(SW FL)

I will add my two cents worth. We have had predatation from redtail hawks, foxes and raccoons and our solution was to get two Great Pyrenees. One was literally "outfoxed" and we lost a beautiful young crested duck.Two days after we added the second dog they brought in the body of a problems since. Whenever the fowl send up an alarm the dogs go into action. They post themselves in opposing directions and "cover" the problem. When hawks fly over the birds and the dogs watch the skies closely.

Have had people question the cost of feeding two huge dogs and have found, actually, that the Pyrs do not eat excessively. They are not hugely expensive to keep. And, we got ours from a rescue, fully grown, and ready to take on the job.

It is a joy to watch them in action. When the guineas start talking up a storm the white fur literally flies to their location to "cover" the problem. When the coyotes start singing in packs, the big, white plumelike tails go up over the backs and they head out silently to keep them at bay.

Good luck with your babies, CindyLou!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 2:08PM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

We are raising "Day Range Chickens" for meat. We put them out in their yard at just two weeks so they could forage. They are now five weeks old and very active and fun to watch. We change their yard weekly when the grass starts getting worn down. (Each yard is fenced with electric chicken mesh and is 180 sq. ft.) They come inside their pen at night so we don't have to worry about owls.

Whenever I see hawks circling in their area, I turn on a little portable radio and the hawks leave. I also always have the radio going if we are going out in the daytime. I really don't know what the answer would be if the crows aren't afraid of a barking dog. If you don't have a rooster running with the flock, that would possibly be a deterrent.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 4:51PM
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Judy, WOW that sounds incredible. I wish you had a couple of pic of these dogs. Its also astounding that you got them from a rescue and they were trained and all. S

See you soon

chicken ingenue

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 6:35PM
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judyag_44(SW FL)

I do have pics but do not know how to put them onto this forum. 8(

As for "training" the dogs are not trained but rather just function as they were bred to do. They have been bred for centuries to live with and protect flocks of sheep in the Pyrenees mountains. The dogs stay with their flocks for months at a time with no human contact and keep them safe from maurading predators. It is this instictual "caring for their flock" that causes them to care for our little family of critters.

I have had dogs (of many different breeds) for all of my 60 years and am just amazed by the things I see these two characters doing. Am convinced that we would never be able to have poultry here without them.

Would be happy to send pics if you will send your e-mail address to me at


    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 1:44AM
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now from another side of the fence

when I was a teenager, I had a couple of crows as pets. My cousin raises parrots and various birds, and actually went up in nests and stole crow chicks to raise. Ok, maybe not legal, I don't know, but back then, they were my pets. This was 30 years ago.

They were EXCELLENT pets.

I kept them in large rabbit hutches and when trained, they would go flying with me when I went riding on my horses.

I trained them to do all sorts of tricks.

It was very difficult for them to pick up items in their beaks unless they were shaped certain ways. Their beaks have no hook on the end. They are shaped just like needle nose plyers. Choctaw was my favorite, and he learned to say some words, although not as well as a mynah or parrot. He could pick up objects, but had great difficulty if they were to big, or very round. He could not pickup grapes, or small balls, or small dog toys. If he wanted to pick up a grape, he had to think and carefully aim, then stab it with his beak. If he tried to pick it up between his upper and lower beak, it would just slip out. He could pick up pop tops, rings, twigs, pieces of dog food, bic pens, strings with items attached.

I can ** maybe ** see a crow, or two crows going together to kill a large chick, then eating it where it was killed, or maybe tearing it apart and flying away with a piece of it, but knowing first hand from my own experience with teaching Choctaw and Ragen, I cannot see how they could swoop down and pick up a bird larger than a Cardinal in their beak. I am not sure that they could even fly with a Cardinal. I saw both my crows use their feet in many ways, but I never saw them swoop down and pick something up with them. But, my crows were pets, and did not hunt, so I cannot say for sure. Crows might come to ground, kill something, tear it apart, then fly away with something in their feet - but their claws are not talons. Their toenails are not sharp like raptor claws. Their toenails come to a point, much like canary or parrot toenails, but I never trimmed my crow's nails, and they would come from flight and land on my bare arms, and never broke my skin... and they grabbed on hard sometimes if they were flying in fast. Crows may look large in the air, but I've held them on my hand, and they don't weigh that much. I think carrying a large field mouse would be about the extent of what they could carry away in one piece and still be able to fly and gain altitude.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 10:54PM
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I was under the impression that chicken tractors only needed to be moved say once a month depending upon how big the yard is and how many chickens you have.

I only let mine "free range" outside of their coop and yard when I am outside with them.

I have six chickens and my husband moves their tractor maybe once a month. I also feed them scraps early in the day so they are cleaned up by night fall and won't attrack other preds like coyotes and foxes.

Had a fox in the front yard last night stalking one of my four month old kittens. Why he wasn't out back eatn my chickens is beyond me, my tractor is not predator proof at all!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 8:22PM
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My chickens are older before I let them out of the pen. They do free range all day once they are around 14 weeks old. Come dusk they go into lockdown.

My pen is small holed chicken mesh but is surrounded by heavy gage chainlink. I've seen coyotes blast through regular chicken wire. Have a chicken wire top to the pen too. If I'm not going to be home during the day they stay in the pen until I get home. Too many different predators here.

I have guinea hens. Very noisey but fast to sound the alarm. The chickens take cover when the start. My lab goes into fox hunting mode and runs the perimeter of the yard and near horse pasture.

Crows haven't bothered anything but like I said I wait until they are a bit bigger. Hawks have circled but so far the guinea alarm has worked. The hens are also roaming out with the horses which probably helps.

I've had a few pet crows. Very smart birds. All were things that had been injured and I nursed back to health. All eventually returned to the wild but a couple hung around a long time, stayed tame.

I have seen crows carry things in their feet. I had a crazy neighbor who decided to have a picnic in my yard near my pond once. One of the tame crows came down and took his sandwish bag and all and took off. Too heavy for the bird to get any altitude. Was hilarious watching the nut run across my yard shaking his fist at the bird who could only get just above the mans head. Bird did decide the sandwich wasn't worth it and dropped it before they hit the next neighbors yard and headed for the tree tops. Personally I wished I could have taught the bird to drop a wet stinky bird bomb on the guy. His family did eventually have to take him away. Picnics were the least of his problems.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 9:28PM
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judeth_ann(Z8 PNW)

Hi Folks, here's another Judy with her two bits worth. We have problems here with "immature baldheaded eagles". They are hugh and nearly black. One was lifting a neighbours hugh cat when their dog barked and went after it and the immature eagle dropped the cat. After I met a full grown eagle, with it's georgeous white head, sitting on the walkway to the chicken house, I strung "yellow barrier tape" criss cross around the chicken run, loose enough so it fluttered, also, some pieces at different lengths hanging down to flutter in the breeze. Also, you could make a makeshift pen with rebar holding the wire up and put net over it, then in a couple weeks, you can move it. My daughter has "fish-net" over her chicken run. I always believed Racoons only came out at night. That isn't true. We are seeing them all the time along the highway, etc., during the day light hours.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 11:50PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Hilarious story, Suenh! *LOL*

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 12:31AM
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Baby chicks "peeping" really attracts preditors. We have no problems with fox and such until the babies are hatched. I'd keep them penned until they are a little bigger. I have seen owls snatch medium sized chicks.
Have fun and good luck with your new endevor!!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 10:53AM
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I've enjoyed reading the information on this post. I run an animal sanctuary mostly with goats and pigs in Western North Carolina and last night something came into the pen and took a very large Rooster. The Rooster had a house and place to hide as well. There appears to be a lot of black feathers on the ground where they fought, but none of the Roosters red feathers. Any idea what did this? We havent seen any large birds of prey nearby except wild turkeys and lots of crows. And dont hawks usually take animals from a diving attack on the run?
Any information appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 1:58PM
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"last night something came into the pen and took a very large Rooster"

Raccoon, bobcat, fox, owl

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 1:03PM
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This is not normal behavior of crows. They must be a different bird

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 8:34PM
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I had the same thing happen today! I caught the Raven in the act! 3 of my 5 chickens are dead. I never saw anything like it. I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and we never had our free range chickens attacked by any kind of bird. We live in So Cal now in the middle of the city on a very large lot. I called the lady I bought the chicks from and she said the Ravens are particularly aggressive this time of year because they are feeding their young. My chicks were about 3 months old and were growing well. I think I need a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun...of course I might shoot my eye out with that thing.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 3:25PM
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I am at this site because I searched the phrase "crows eating chickens". I'm still shaking my head in disbelief after a terrible incident yesterday. We lost our two healthy, beautiful 2-year-old back yard chickens to a huge mob of crows (not ravens - we know the difference). We live on a densely house-laden cul-de-sac in Mission Viejo, CA (Southern Cal) and our birds have been ranging free in our small back yard since they were 4 months old (fully fledged). Twice that we've seen, a hawk has swooped through the yard, to no ill affect, and we've never had a single problem with mammalian predators. I was sitting in the yard once as a hawk did a half-hearted dive attack. The attempt was silent, but our chickens saw it coming, and dove into our dense shrubbery for cover. That was the end of that, and the hawk flew away without reward.

I have read every comment here, and until yesterday, I was inclined to believe those who say that not only are crows not going to hurt my full grown chickens, but a crow is physically incapable of flying off with a full grown (4-5 lb.) Americana chicken. I can tell you that both of these details are not only very feasible, they did happen to us at 7:30 am on 6/5/11. We saw it, and know what we saw.

One bird (Buff Orpington) was killed in the first few seconds of the attack and left where she died. The other chicken was cornered up against our house, then taken by the mob and consumed about 500 yards from our yard. My wife heard the chickens screaming and the crow cacophony. I thought one of our dogs had finally snapped and gone rouge. She was stunned to find 40-50 crows scattering and taking flight from the yard with our pretty girl in tow. It was truly a scene right from a Hitchcock film.

Adding more to the bizarre tale, we found the feather pile about 6 hours later, with the only remains being a partial wing, the feathers, and one chicken egg in the middle of the pile. They ate her entirely, bones and all. I cannot fathom why they did not crack and eat the egg.

The whole incident took 40-60 seconds and the flock of crows definitely knew what they were doing. We are big bird watchers and have noticed the baby crows being taught how to scavenge our streets for road-killed rabbits and trash. Perhaps this episode was a training exercise for the young ones? In any case, the efficiency and overwhelming force was staggering and has us rethinking a free ranging back yard bird flock.

I'd like to see another post about the dead crow idea. There are hundreds of resident crows in our area, and the idea of being free from these highly intelligent and organized marauders pleases me.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 10:28AM
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true its not normal behaviour but exceptions always occur. Even eagles can only carry so much weight but one tried carrying a fawn up into the sky! Crows are Opportunists. They get away with what they can. We have meat chickens that aren't too agile. The crows swoop down from the nearby forest and peck the chickens to death. They go from the bottom to get their organs out and they leave the rest behind to waste. About 10 or so show themselves at a time and kill 6 - 8 chickens in a short time. We put shiny ribbons across the fields (strung up like you would for a party) to discourage eagles. Two llamas protect against coyotes. We have a dog and 5 cats but nothing seems to protect against the crows. an owl also kills one once or twice a week, takes the head first then the organs. Our current batch is about 2 months old, pretty big.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 6:32PM
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no more free range here.I learned my lesson two times a neighbors 2 dogs came in wiped out all my chickens but just my expprience,weasels,hawks,eagles,dogs,all will get your chickens.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 8:58PM
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We have had a crow eating our chicken eggs for 9 days straight now. 11 - 14 eggs a day laid in the hen house with chickens in "free range" yard area, enclosed with 2 X 4 inch woven wire/electric wire on bottom and top. Darn Crow flies in the open door (mini-barn type out building) and eats the eggs shell and all. Tried plastic Great Horned Owl trick...crow didn't even look at it. Tried shotgun trick...crow came back in a few hours. Tried leaving loud radio on....Crow didn't care. Today, during daylight hours, something stole my 11 month old full grown, BB Red Bantum hen. Who, naturally was my favorite chicken, raised her from 1 day old and she would sit in my lap and be petted. I say the crow did it. The only predator we have had in a year or more, and so it is the obvious choice. I believe whatever killed my beloved Mrs. Smith came in from the air. The egg eater is not a Raven, by the way, it is a crow. Know the difference. No sign of Mrs. Smith, no feathers, nothing. Like she dissappeared. Is the only way to secure my chickens and their beautiful grassy "yard", which is right up against my house, literally, to cover the entire area with woven wire or bird netting? Mrs. Smith was about the size of a full grown robin. Thank you for any ideas. We are sick about this.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:55PM
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Sorry to hear about your bantam hen. More likely the work of a hawk who comes in silently and removes birds. They do not want to be seen, so won't be obvious like the crows.

crow eating eggs - prevent their landing in the pen with the overhead welded wire or bird netting

protect birds from overhead predators by preventing their access with wire or netting

after they've lived in their run awhile it will no longer be a grassy run. You may desire to cover it with fiberglass panels to also keep it dry & have less odor. Wet chicken manure especially if drainage is poor there will be stinky. If run is covered it can be managed like deep litter in a coop for no flies or odor next to your home. Be careful about attracting rats who would love that protection as well. Spilled feed or leftover scrap foods at night will encourage them.

We've found if crows around less likely to have hawks, but in late summer or mid winter the hawks come. No amount of mylar is going to scare them away once they find food.

Perhaps, a dog would scare them off and can be trained to co-exist with the older mature chickens. It's not easy to do that.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:50PM
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This morning two ravens flew into our large dry lot which Is where our chickens roam with our horses. They attacked , tore apart and devoured my favorite hen in the few minutes it took for my husband and I to run up the hill to see what was going on. We have watched these two for several week . They chased a red tail hawk into the brush and trees on the hill a few weeks ago. We never thought they would be a problem for full grown chickens. My rooster was busy herding the other hens into one of the horse stalls. When they chased the hawk we were thinking, wow, how cool. Now we are waiting for the morning ....I don't know if there will be enough to hang up, but there will be at least one less raven. Grrrrrrr, we have tons of squirrels they could eat.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 12:56AM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Crows killed 2 Cornish Cross chickens the first day I turned them out to pasture. The chickens were just a hair under 3 pounds; not baby chicks. The crows were caught in the act, not being falsely accused.

They got every one of my goose eggs this spring. 5-6 of them would attack the goose to get her off the nest and then they would break the eggs.

I've seen them flying off with duck eggs.

They attacked a small flock of adult Swedish ducks. I could hear the battle, crows cawing and ducks screaming, and I rushed outside to see crows flying away and a large number of black crow feathers in my duck run. It looks like it was a mistake to take on 3 adult Swedish drakes. The crows haven't tried it again, although they are still stealing all the duck eggs.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 5:51PM
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My chicken was taken by something yesterday. All that was left was two piles of feathers no blood or feather trail into the woods. Do Osprey take chickens? Mine are 4 months old. And I must say the remaining 3 seem very timid and frightened.
Any idea about whether the preditor would pull out feathers to make the chicken easier to carry.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 9:16PM
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newbie here with three chicks and a duckling. two Comets, a Delaware and a runner duck. I am petrified of predators and am researching everything. :( I am so sorry for all of your losses. I cannot stand the thought and before they go out I am going to focus on the most secure barriers I can come up with. We live on 32 acres in Western NY and have it all out here. we have 5 dogs, horses, cats and a 5 year old son. I am a SAHM so will be around a lot. We have approximately 1/4 of an acre with a falling down 6 ft. stockade fence around it that we are going to gradually replace. There is a large area within that fence next to the house where we will put the coop ( the rambler from and then secure a pen area. Part will be the house, two sides the re-enforced fence and a new part will have to be put up to make the rectangle. We want to put the black plastic shrubbery barrier down ( 6") and then pour cement around the fence. I will get the night time predator lights to move around and do whatever else I can do. If anyone is still reading this thread I am open to suggestions. we also will put bird netting along the top of the run. The problem is that there are no trees in the back. I need to get some put in and also find some things for them to hide under for when they spend time free ranging. In the winter I plan on letting them have a stall with a dutch door and making an enclosure for them but that is a ways away.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 10:58AM
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