Predator Risks for Chickens During Daylight?

newbiegardner(Z10 S. Florida)August 29, 2007


I have a couple Americauna hens that are full grown. They are pets and very dear to us and the kids.

Our first experiment with chicks went horribly wrong when a Racoon killed the 2 chicks overnight by putting its hands through the cage and taking the little chicks apart piece-by-piece.

We reinforced the cage with wire mesh instead of chicken wire. The second set of chicks have made it well and are now fully grown and egg laying hens.

Is it now SAFE to let them roam the yard during broad DAYLIGHT. Of course, we'll lock them up at night...but it would be nice to let them roam free for a few hours during the day.

Is this risky? It take a while to get over baby chicks being taken apart by a racoon. I've never seen one out during the day around my house....but I have seen racoons out during the day in public parks, etc.

Any advice would be appreciated.



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We just lost a dear hen to a predator, mid afternoon. She tended to go off by herself. We found her just off a path cut in tall grass (the other chickens seldom go there). I'm sure it was a racoon. We caught 2 racoons in live-traps (at night) a couple of weeks ago--but they do prey during the day.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 7:12PM
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Miss_Kitty(6a KY)

Then there are dogs. My dogs kill more of my poultry than hawks, coons and rats all together.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 10:14PM
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We free range our hens from sun-up to sundown, locking them indoors only at night. We have been very fortunate but we don't have dogs running wild around here. That would be my first idea of a daytime predator. A raccoon isn't going to be able to catch a free-range bird when it is daylight. There is plenty of wooded area to protect them from sky predators also.

We have two 'guard roosters' that run with the flock and I believe they are absolutely necessary to the safety of the flock. I will also say that one or both of us is here just about all the time (and lots of time is spent outdoors) so that has to be a factor here. We have been doing this for over two years and only had two predator deaths. They were both at night from raccoons getting in the coop.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 9:16AM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

If you put up a fenced area off your coop it may help, we fenced in a very large area (chicken yard) for our chickens. It keeps them from going into the woods and also protects them from any roaming dogs.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 11:19AM
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I think they should be fine during the day, but don't take anyone's word for it if you personally don't think it's safe enough.

A raccoon got one of your precious ducks several months ago during the night. I've never seen one during the day but I have seen a few at night. We actually were able to catch the one that got our duck and we carried it away and released it somewhere else.

If you could fence in your yard where they would have some room to roam free that would be a good idea. We have a fence all around our yard. The ducks are always in our fence. I think that's why we haven't ever lost any to 'predators' except only one of our ducks, because a lot of animals won't go over a fence (except I know a raccoon will :(

Good Luck with your pet chickens. I know what you mean by 'pets.' I am the same with my ducks, they are very special.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 2:57PM
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presmudjo(z9 Osceola FL)

Any Eagles in your area? I don't think a hawk would take something that large, but an Eagle would. Being in Florida, do you have any ponds, retention ponds, canals, or wetlands nearby. You should know why I ask that question. Those buggers do move about in the day.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 5:05PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

My flock free ranges in my fenced back yard during the day, and are securely cooped at night. The predator risk depends on where you live--I live in suburban Los Angeles and our daytime predators are housecats and hawks, nighttime is possums and rats (yeah, we get big ones, ugh). Our yard walls are of cinderblock and are high enough to foil all but the Olympic hurdlers of dogs.

I'd provide a securely fenced free range area, that can withstand assault by a large dog--chicken wire is out. If you can break it down with your hands, so can a predator. Also give them trees and large bushes to scoot under in case of hawks--hawks need room to dive on their prey, and if you break up their approach you can mess them up enough to give the chickens time to take cover.

Don't leave food out that may tempt things like raccoons and cats to come around, and collect eggs in a timely manner to remove them as a food source lure.

Good luck with your birds, I know how heartbreaking it is to have a predator come in and massacre your flock. :(

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 7:59PM
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I have my chickens in a large fenced area too...during the day,but at nightfall they're inside their coop. I've been extremely lucky and haven't seen any horrible crimes ...and hopefully never will. (but i do know the reality )
If you have them in a designated area with a netted covering,you will be fine for the day. put up a scare-crow! it seems to work for me :) and it looks cute....good luck :)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 8:37PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

My flock is well-protected by Mastiffs and my Jack Russell Terrier. They hang out together, and run to the gate together to greet me. I suspect my JRT eats any eggs laid outside of the coop, but, then again, she is a Rescue,had to survive on her own, and became a life-long scavenger. She makes a great effort to avoid touching the chickens, since I taught her from the time they were babies to not even look at them. She will make a wide curve away from a bird when running, or will leap over them, in order to not touch one(G). Yet she catches and kills rats, squirrels, snakes and rabbits.

The Mastiffs are easy, non-aggressive, not predatory at all. But they will protect our property against all threats.
They love the fresh eggs, but sit politely outside the coop-they do not go inside, even with both gates wide open.

The coop is fenced with chain-link, with a metal roof. Nothing can get in except snakes or rats, when secured. To discourage the rats we remove feed at night,and use traps in our shed.

The birds are safely locked up at night. We are in a very rural, wooded area. The property is fenced, with cattle panels, wooden privacy fencing and field fence. Our Rooster is great about watching over his girls.

We have lots of hawks, but they ignore my heavy-breed poultry.

I have not lost any birds to predators.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 9:34PM
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zootjs(zone 5 MA)

We recently lost two chickens and a duck to a fox at 11:00 am. They were in a large fenced in area, but the fence was a bit porous and had sections overgrown with brambles. The attack happened very close to the barn.

I've since put up a more secure fence (about 2500 square feet) right outside the barn. It's 5 feet high, and buried about 6 inches below ground, coming out another foot or so, to prevent digging. I'm going to add a couple strands of electrical wire at both 1 foot above ground and at 5 1/2 feet up to prevent climbing (raccoons).

The hawk danger remains. I think the only way to make it truly secure is to make it essentially a chain link cube. Not what I'd like my pastoral view to be.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 6:30AM
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newbiegardner(Z10 S. Florida)

Thank you for all of your answers. We had decided against letting the chickens stay out "unsupervised" during daylight hours. We only have 2 hens and they are even a single loss is devestating to us.

Anyway, we were outside in the pool let the chickens run around the back yard (we have 1 acre).

When we got out of the pool, they were NOWHERE to be found. After frantically looking for 20 minutes, we found them in a neighbor's front yard. Whew!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 8:45PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

NewbieGardener, they got through your fence? Do you have small-breed hens? My chubby Buff Orpingtons and Barred Rocks cannot get through our fencing - if they could, I'd never let them out alone! Too scary!

I taught my Chickens to come when called. It is useful in any situation where I do not know where they are, like right before a bad storm when they were hiding under the Banana trees. I started when they were chicks, calling "Here Chook, Chook, Chook" to them everytime I fed them. Now, I can barely get out one call, and they are all right there, looking up at me in anticipation(G). I also imprinted them on my van, just by giving them special treats when I drive in from work. So, if they ever escaped (hurricanes blowing apart the coop, gate left open somehow) I can use both the visual of the van and my voice to get them to come running to me. My birds are pets too, and I adore them.

Also, if you can let them out about an hour before dark, they will get to peck/scratch around, then will go back in their coop by themselves, so you can lock them up safely. They do this naturally. If you let them out in the morning, they will want to stay out all day. I don't know about you, but I look really foolish trying to "herd" chickens that don't want to go back in the coop!(G)


    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 2:03PM
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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

There is no perfect answer to this. Mine free range, but of course I end up missing one once in a while. My dog stays busy barking, but there is an occasional fox at mid day, and a coyote early morning. Not all predators work at night. I try not to get attached to any one hen....

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 7:29PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

So many different stories here. I lost my entire free ranging flock in the middle of the day. Found four decapitated birds in the middle of my horse pasture, two other bodies which were piles of feathers, there were two survivors who I got back. Weasels and raccoons decapitate heads, fox and coyote leave piles of feathers..........who knows. We have so many predators where I live. Overhead predators are always an issue and can take a grown chicken easily.

I have since fenced in a nice yard that they can free range in only when I am home but it's still a danger.

What I noticed about my first flock was that they were free ranging further and further from their coop - I mean way out so were quite vulnerable. They always came in at night.

I know my heart was broken 12 times that day and I would not want my children to suffer that kind of loss.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 1:01PM
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I just lost three chicks last night to what I think was a racoon and I just wanted to cry when I saw them. I have two more that are injured and are inside with me in the cardboard box designated "chick hospital". It's really heartbreaking when something happens to them. I'm an animal lover but I swore I was not going to get too attached to my chicks because I got them for eggs not pets. That lasted all of two seconds. The chicks are 5 weeks old and I just transitioned them to their hen house last weekend because the brooder box was getting cramped (I had 25 of them). The hen house is a partitioned off area of an old tobacco barn and is connected to a chicken run that's probably 10' x 12'. We thought there weren't any gaps for anything to get in but something obviously did. Today we put another board up to block a small space around a beam and we reinforced the chicken wire on the run. Hopefully that'll take care off it.

I also want to free range my birds when they get bigger but I'm scarred something is going to happen to them. I realize now that I should have gotten a rooster instead of all hens since roosters protect the flock, but I didn't know that when I ordered them.

BTW someone mentioned the impossibility of hearding chickens and I have a trick for everyone if you ever need to attempt the impossible. I use a hose with a jet nozzle on it. I spray the water behind the chickens to move them forward and around the edges of the flock to keep them from spreading out. Works like a charm because my chicks hate to get wet. Of course they do need to be in an area with a hose in the first place...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 5:49PM
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another great way to bring your flock in is shaking a can or any container with treats in it! My hens see me coming holding a margarine container(with leftovers of course) and they run to's so cute :)

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 9:15PM
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goldenpond((Vero.Beach FL 9b))

My tww bobcat attacks were in braoad daylight with us home neighbors in their yards kids playing.Us screaming and chasing them with sticks didnt bother them much at all. They are not afraid of people any more.I live in a residential area but happen to have two and a half acres.
Also caught a raccoon in broad daylight trying to get the ducks while they were in the pond!He did run when we chased him
We now have a bobcat trap but so far have only caught possums,& raccoons.
I love my critters and i said Oh I'll just think of them like plants, some die and ya gotta raplace em right????
But I love them.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 3:56PM
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We lost a full grown chicken in the middle of the day last month while letting them free range. We found her dead with her back eaten out. We think it was a hawk as we have seen them hanging around lately. I have seen racoons and skunks here too and I know there are foxes and coyotes. Our chickens no longer free range. We have a big rooster too, but the chickens were so spread out that there is no way he could have protected them all.

We have a very large fenced run that is covered with fencing and they have a large fortress for a coop.

Its our one and only loss in the past year. They are safe in their run and will stay there. We bring them lots of treats and fresh grass and dandilions.

They know treats come in silver bread bags and come running and some jump up at the bag. They come running to the pen fence when we come out of house, anyway, or come home in the car. They are always begging for treats!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 6:12PM
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You can always get a rooster, since there is always too many of them. I like your water hose trick.

My chickens are so silly. I have them split into 3 groups, 5 adults (2 RIR and 3 Barred Rocks) that I left out of 12 from a dog attack, 11 Cornish Rock X, and 9 RIR minis that were sold to me as RIR that I can now never add to my flock because of their size. The nice coop belongs to the adults, the minis are in a rabbit cage that they have never outgrown and the CRX have a cage around a dog house. They free range during the day, but at night- they are all piled in their own homes and I just walk by and shut the doors. I only have to heard them in if I need to pen them up before dusk. They just naturally go to roost. That is when I can check them out and be sure they are disease and pest free. I can do anything I want to them and the biggest deterent they try is scooting over-I have to stop and laugh- NOT the same ATTITUDE during the day when they are on the yard. I use the "shaker method" and the "round your kids up around the birds method" when I have to manually pen them up. Happy Homesteading!- TR

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 12:48PM
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We just lost our entire flock of chickens. 2 year old, raised from chicks, large rooster & 5 hens - all killed during daylight hours.

The rooster was found early in the morning, outside of the coop, in our fenced backyard, attacked in the back, still warm (I must have scared off the attacker) - the hens were still in the coop & would not leave until much later, even though it was well past daylight.

When awaking later in the day (I work nights so sleep in the day) ALL of the hens are gone - only piles of feathers left behind to offer any evidence of what did this.

We have it narrowed down to fox or possibly bobcat.

The other problem we have...two of our indoor/outdoor adult cats are also missing.

It's been a bad 48hrs around our backyard

The moral:
Yes, they can be killed during daylight hours, even with a very strong, protective rooster, 3 large dogs on the property (but in the house) & humans at home!!! who knew!

I found some very helpful info here:
& here
as well as here

Here is a link that might be useful: Info on predators of chickens

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 3:43AM
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The problem with poultry predators is that they can't read all those books and magazine articles saying that they ONLY attack at night. If they get hungry, they hunt. I've seen all of them in broad daylight. Sometimes they're afraid of me and sometimes they're not. Everything likes to eat chicken.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:54PM
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We've had a variety of predators in the past 4 yrs that we've kept chickens. I wouldn't count a hawk out for getting a full grown large breed chicken. I've seen it with my own eyes. They might not be able to take off with it but will eviscerate and eat what they want on the spot. We have coyotes, fox, bobcat and even one of our own dogs that like to help themselves if able. We've had oppossum in the nests, who like to have an egg dinner from time to time. We have a coop that is locked at night and a fenced in area we let them roam. The fence is not fully secure but is within another fenced area which at least gives them a fighting chance if say a stray or neighbor dog comes sniffing around. We really really enjoy our chickens but they are not pets. They come running when we walk out there but are not lap pets, although we do have our favorites. We have a lot of chickens and while I wouldn't want to lose one, it isn't as devastating as if we only had a handful. I prefer to run the risk and let them free range for a portion of the day, if we are here. They are great insect control and keep the grass/weeds at bay around fence lines and the barn. I think their eggs are much, much better with the most orange yolks when they free range, too. It is a matter of preference, I think. If I only had 5-10 chickens I might not take the chance. Lori

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 1:13AM
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Placing my coop on legs do you think it would help to protect them.
I am new to this I have three 1 month olds they are in the house now but would like to keep them outside

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 5:49PM
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I have lost a total of 5 birds, all during the day when they are in their run. The run is fenced in. Each bird has been decapitated and partially eaten but not entirely. I don't know what kind of trap to set because I don't know what would be doing this during the day.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 10:02AM
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I have not read the posts, however I can tell you this with certainty: you absolutely can lose chickens to hawks and coyotes during the day. It's happened to us multiple times. The only way to avoid this is to have a predator proof fence, with netting above it so that the hens can't fly over, and the hawks can't fly in.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 10:50AM
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