“I’m a Chicken Hawk!”

Chicken Hawk 1
Not my picture but I love it!

So now that I am an expert Chicken Tender (NOT), I have found that the most important thing you can do for your chickens is keep them safe. Specifically, keep them safe from predators. It is your responsibility and they rely on you to do so. Predators can be anything from house cats, hawks, raccoons, dogs, snakes you name it! Anything that could consider your chickens or their eggs SUPPER.

Before I go into some of the helpful steps that I have taken to keep my flock safe, I will tell you that as a new Chicken Tender… ACCIDENTS DO HAPPEN. Honestly, I must tell myself that because losing any of my bird babies is a direct reflection of the care, I give them.

The first time I lost a bird, I lost all four at the same time. My first four babies. RIP to the Golden Girls. Not even Betty White made it through this one.

Chicken Hawk 2

Not that you can really tell by the picture besides that there is no covering for my chickens, they are not protected AT ALL. This time the predator was a neighborhood dog. He dug a little and pulled back the fencing and got in. He scared two to death, literally, and he got a hold of the other two. It was the saddest day of chicken keeping that I have ever experienced. We had an exchange student from China staying with us and I remember him just standing there watching me cry. I’m sure he figured out right then and there I was a nut… at least when it came to my chickens.

Fast forward to now. I now have 27 birds made up of 20 chickens (one roo), three turkeys (one female, two males) and four Cayuga ducks (one male and three females. Yeah, he is in HEAVEN). I have gone above and beyond to keep these babies safe. I’m sure I over do it. Never the less, I have had an accident or two. We lost three chickens to our own dogs. How, you say? Well, I didn’t even consider that they new babies where smaller and could get out of the ‘smaller than normal size chicken’ hole. Again, completely my fault.

So, to give you some tips on your coop and remember this is my OPINION. There are hundreds of articles and helpful sites that I suggest you research before buying your chickens. Just give it a google. But either way here are my suggestions.

1. Make sure you cover your run.

We have covered our run, which is 50 ft x 30 ft, with deer netting. It was around $15 for one 50ft x 25ft. We bought two and use the remainder of the second one to patch and repair the first one. The netting not only helps keep our flock in, but it also keeps other over head predators out. I honestly thought we would catch a hawk or something but nothing so far!

Chicken Hawk 3

2. Chicken wire is mainly to keep chickens IN

Ok, so I know what you are thinking, because I thought it too, chicken wire is for CHICKENS. Well, yes and no. Chicken wire is perfect for keeping your chickens in, but it is NOT strong enough to keep predators out. It is easily bent and broken if the right stubborn animal is trying to make a snack out of your bird babies. We currently have chain-link fencing for stability and chicken wire on top of that to secure the run. I have used hardwire cloth in the past. It is sturdier and has smaller mesh.

Chicken Hawk 4

Side note: Make sure you cut the wire outside of the run area and pick up any pieces that break off. YOU DO NOT WANT TO DEAL WITH BUMBLEFOOT. (Google if you dare!)

3. Don’t forget to go DOWN

Why? Because the predators won’t. A lot of your predators are diggers, meaning they will dig under your coop walls to get into your coop. I didn’t consider this with my first coop and my babies sadly paid the price for it. We added a third layer of chicken wire that goes out past the bottom of the coop about two feet. This way, if something does dig, it will take them a long time to do so. Hopefully long enough that we notice and can stop them.

4. Please “Mind the Gap”

This right here is why I lost the last three ladies. We have a chain link fence with a normal chain-link gate. I knew the grown chickens were too big for the hole beside the gate, but I never even considered it after transferring the new babies out to the run. Turns out they could just jump right through the small hole. The dog-Os took it from there. Since then, we have covered the hole with a pipe and then a layer of chicken wire that’s held tight with a bungee cord. Not pretty but they are safe again.

5. Get your birds off the ground

It may be piece of mind, but I feel that the coops being three feet or so off the ground gives a second layer of protection. Not only do the predators have to make it into the coop, they now must figure out how to scale the chicken coop!

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Red coop is the one they sleep in. We have the one on the ground for the turkeys and the smaller (brown) one for the ducks.

6. PEW. PEW.

I have NEVER had to protect my flock with means of killing another animal. However, I am prepared to do so. You must protect your flock from predators and sometimes it’s either your birds or the predator. I have seen what an animal can do to coop and chickens. The neighborhood dog that killed my first flock, tore the bottom boards of the coop off to get to them. I’m not saying I would have the heart to kill a pet but I would definitely scare the dang thing if I knew it would save my babies.


Ok, this step is optional but so worth it. Yes, we have a coop cam. I used it when we first put the babies in with the established flock to make sure they were going into the coop at night. We caught on video, when my rooster died which ruled out predators. Now if I hear anything outside, I can check on them from my cozy bed. It also helps when I am away and want to make sure my babies aren’t too sad I am gone. 😊

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Tom keeps watch most nights. He’s our third layer of protection!
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I’m pretty sure our ducks think they are turkeys.

Chicken Math: Three Chickens Equals Five Chicken Equals 29 Chickens+

What is Chicken Math: “Are sure you are counting your birds correctly? There are specific rules that apply:

  1. You do not count any eggs in the incubator because you don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
  2. You don’t count chickens that were given as a gift because they were a present and are more properly considered a gift rather than a chicken.
  3. You do not count any bird under 18 weeks old because they are too young to lay eggs so they are considered juveniles rather than chickens.
  4. You don’t count bantams because bantams are considered bantams rather than chickens.
  5. You don’t count ornamental birds because they are ornamental and are considered yard art, folk art, or fine art rather than chickens.
  6. You don’t count birds beyond laying age because they’re retired and don’t lay eggs and are considered retirees rather than chickens.
  7. You don’t count birds in molt because they’re are in molt and missing feathers so cannot be properly considered as complete chickens.
  8. You don’t count males because males are for the production of meat and count as a food source rather than chickens.
  9. You don’t count males even if they’re not destined for meat productions because they are protectors of the flock and are more accurately considered guard dogs rather than chickens.
  10. You don’t count laying hens because they produce eggs and thus are more accurately described as a food source rather than chickens.
  11. You don’t count sick or injured birds because they are sick or injured and their disposition is in question so they go on the injured or sick list not on your list of chickens.
  12. You don’t count birds that are for sale or possibly for sale because they belong or will belong to someone else.

Thus, if you follow the rules (and it is always good to follow the rules) you may only count healthy full size female chickens that are not in molt and not a gift and are of laying age but not laying.

Happy counting!” – Borrowed from McIntyre Poultry Facebook Page

Last September, I decided to kick up my self-sufficiency game with chickens. I searched for a coop in my budget range – which was nonexistent – and then I searched for some chickens! Easy peasy, right? Wrong again.

For the coop, I went with a 4 chicken coop from Amazon for around $175 and two-day shipping! That two-day shipping gets me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. You can see the beauty below.

Stock Picture from Amazon

So in two days’ time, I had the waterer, feeder, coop, fencing, food, shavings, and mealworms delivered to my house. My parents came over to supervise the construction of the coop and to yell at me when I held a tool wrong. You know, to make me tough.  We got it together in about an hour or so and it’s a good thing because the next day I was DEFINITELY GETTING CHICKENS. I have NO “HOLD” button. Just go, go, go! Plus, one of the reviews on Amazon stated that a father helped his 6th grader put this coop together, and I will not be shown up by a 6th grader! NOT TODAY!

So, my mom and I set off in my car to go buy some chickens. The plan was to get three… no, four… no, three chickens. So we get there and the man walks us over to a pen and says, “Which would you like?” Of course I said, “I want a black one (mom caught it and put it in the box), a yellow one (the man caught it and boxed it up) and… OOO I want that brown one!” He immediately turns to me, clearly his patience has run thin with this idiot girl buying his chickens, and he says displeased, “You mean the Rhode Island RED one?” That’d be a, “Yup!” We drove home with three boxed up chickens and figured out names on the way which were: Goldie Hen, Chick Norris, and Teriyaki.

I added onto the run part of the coop immediately. They needed space to spread their little chicky legs.

A day later, I was a pro! I mean, I kept them alive for a whole day! Now I need to fill that coop. So, I searched and found a little ole man that sold Ameraucana pullets for $30 each.  I bought two grey ladies that I named General Tso and Colonel Sanders. —- Why that high of a price? Well apparently, in the chicken world there are different breeds, like with dogs, and some are considered higher ranking than others. They even have AKC equivalent for chickens, American Poultry Association, for breed standards; who knew?!

Anyhoo… when I got these two home, it didn’t go as smoothly as with the last three. It was just about dark, and I forgot that CHICKENS CAN FLY! And just because you say, “this is your coop,” it doesn’t mean they will abide right away. I opened the box and out they flew! One went one way and the other went another way and I panicked. All I could think was that my $60 went right down the drain. My neighbor came over, after I frantically called his wife, and helped me find the first one that was roosting in a nearby tree. One down, one to go. Since it was dark, and we couldn’t find her, I waited until the next day.

(Because I’m extra)

I got home from work and searched all over the yard, and then the woods. While in the woods I looked through at the coop and there she was, hanging outside the coop talking to her friend. Probably making fun of me, recapping the hilarity of the night before and me walking aimlessly in the woods.

Facebook post: “I’m in the woods searching for this dang chicken and it’s standing outside the chicken pen?!”

I went straight for her. Dumb move. And then she FLEW. Why I haven’t calculated that into my chicken plans yet, I have no clue. #livingnotlearning So, there she went! She flew onto my house! And then into the VERY LARGE tree in my backyard. I did what anyone at this point would do and decided to let her be. HA! NOT! Who am I kidding? I started throwing anything I could at this heifer; sticks, rocks, more sticks. (I didn’t hit her, so don’t worry, Little One.) I FINALLY scared her down and after another hour of chasing, I just sat and waited. I’m in no shape to be chasing a damn chicken. See Below guide on “How to Catch a Chicken.”


That evening she finally roosted in a bush and I caught her! I was so proud, I took a selfie!

Side note: It doesn’t take much for me to post a selfie…

If you are keeping count, through the story, you now know I have 5 chickens… at least at this point in. Fast forward to December. I now have a wonderful boyfriend that isn’t afraid of my spontaneousness and actually was excited to get on the Chicken Train with me! He even built me a larger coop, fenced in an area of his back yard and completely covered it with netting. Did you notice the word “LARGER” in that last sentence? I had five chickens and this new and improved coop could hold AT LEAST 30. What’s a girl to do? BUY. MORE. CHICKENS. Of course


Chick Norris died (Totally believe that it was her name. One can’t handle that much pressure.) and bought a new black chick, named Black Chicken. Last month I believe someone ACCIDENTALLY let one of the grey girls and the black chicken out so we lost them too. ☹ But we move on. We decided on babies! Oh yeah, and a friend of mine gifted me our rooster, Roo Paul. He’s fabulous, as you can see.

Photo Credit: Emily Peek

As for the babies, I wanted pretty eggs, so I went with the following:

  • 3 Olive Eggers – Green Eggs
  • 3 Black Copper Marans – Dark Brown Eggs
  • 3 Cinnamon Queen – Medium Brown Eggs
  • 3 Barred Rock – Pink/Light Brown Eggs
  • 4 Cayuga Ducks (not sexed) – Grey to Black Eggs
  • 3 Turkeys (not sexed) – Because they are cool and that’s what got the boyfriend on board.

They sent one random extra chick and we ended up with 20 babies. A week into this chick baby madness, one got caught under the waterer and didn’t make it. To fill the void of my lost baby, I immediately went to Tractor Supply for “chicken feed” also known as more baby chicks. It’s a shame they only sell them to you in quantities of 6 or higher… meaning I then added:

  • 2 Sex-links – Brown Eggs
  • 3 Americana – Blue, Pink, Green, Brown Eggs (Notice the spelling change. It’s intentional.)
  • 1 Rhode Island Red – Light Brown Eggs

In conclusion, CHICKEN MATH IS REAL! Once you get one chicken, you can’t stop there. You need more, and more, and more. It’s been a lot of fun so far raising/having chickens and I definitely suggest you give it a try. If it’s legal in your area and all. I also would like to recommend doing a little bit of research just to make sure your babies are safe. Our next step is to try to incubate eggs next spring, which I’m sure will be another adventure of its own. Until then enjoy my baby pictures below!