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Chickens


Michael
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We recently acquired a dozen battery hens and they are thoroughly enjoying their new free range environment. However, I'm getting a little nervous as our local buzzard population, who up to now have been quite timid, appear to be showing an interest in our chickens. On at least two occasions I have surprised a buzzard sitting in one of our apple trees, apparently observing the chickens roaming the orchard. Has any one heard of a buzzard attacking chickens, or am I worrying unnecessarily?
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Yes buzzards will have a go I'm told by locals.  We have them here and whilst they have not shown any interest in our hens as yet it's possibly because we have Orpingtons who are a very heavy breed and a very fine, equally large Orpington cock to match!  I suspect that they are feeding up young at the moment as are the Kites in our area also and if they are getting that close I would be very wary.  One trick I've heard of is to place reflective objects in the orchard which they apparently don't like and be very vigilant about locking them away before dusk.  The only full proof way of keeping the hens safe if the blighters persist is to build a covered hen run - but that kind of defeats the object of giving the poor battery chuckies the benefit of their new found freedom.  I would like to get some at some point - good for you and I hope you manage to keep them safe.  Good luck!
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Thought I did Chris but......... having seen a buzzard kill a rabbit in our field? Mind you, it could have been a youngster or poorly. I sneaked out with my telephoto lens, but it saw me and all that was left was some fur. As regards the chickens, I hope you are right, at least I should get my buzzard photo at long last. When the buzzard flew from the apple tree, it was amazing to see the chickens race back to their house, innate instincts still intact, despite their miserable lives to date.  
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re the innate instinct to hide from a threat from above - our landing window is above the chicken run, and if you open it they run for cover, under some trees.

Magpies are also a threat, but only to small birds. Yes I can imagine a buzzard attacking a hen, but could it carry it off?

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A buzzard on the wing is a most impressive bird and we've had visitors who insist they've seen an eagle!

I' m a natural history artist and frequently bring back dead birds to draw and study. The actual body of a buzzard is so small and light it would be hard pressed to lift even a small chicken off the ground. Most of it is made up of wings and tail.

 It has taken our chicks often ,but never anything else.

I should think a yorkie would put up a bit of a fight anyway!

W Rat

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Hello

I lost a chicken to what I think was a bird of prey attack.  I found her dead, breast split open and feathers having been plucked off the entire breast.  So whatever did the deed did not try to take her but had killed her.  The others stayed in their enclosure for days after but now have forgotten about it.  It could have been an eagle, yes really as there is a falconry centre  in the nearest town and I have seen them out looking when one of their huge birds had gone missing! 

Panda

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We've had full size chickens killed by beech martens which eat as much as they can on the spot because they can't carry it away.The buzzards then move in to clear up the mess and then get the blame.

If it's a fox ,they'll just be a pile of feathers. Don't doubt me , I've seen all this happening,not all at one time,though!

W Rat

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Panda. I don't know where you are exactly, in two departements apparently.[:D] Anyway in Poitou-Charentes, Vienne and 2 Sevres you will see Booted Eagles and Short-toed Eagles reasonably frequently if you look and I'm rather pleased to say that here at our place we have had a pair of Short tailed eagles hanging around since late spring and today in the air, all together, there were three. They are based about 1km from us in some large woods with open cereal fields in between.

Chris

 

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