The Opossums have been the problem predator with the younger chicks, one having found its way into the brooder last fall and killed several of the 2 month old chicks.
With new chicks arriving this week, the plan was in place to head off the possums. Beginning last week the trap has been set out near the new hen house. The first four days, we captured three possums.
It seems their normal range covers from 160 acres for females, to over 700 for males during mating season. To ensure they did not find their way back, they were transported about six or seven miles away. The Opossums were relocated to the riverbank, where they were released. Two headed for the brush looking for cover. The other headed straight for the river, crossing for the other side and never looking back.
Other predators here that have taken notice of our free range chickens include, foxes, dogs, cooper hawks, red tail hawks, and bald eagles. The foxes have had the most success and have had a devastating impact. The dogs, collared with spike collars, came and killed just for fun. The cooper hawks have made a few attempts, ruffled a few feathers, but generally aren’t big enough to snatch one of grown chickens. The red tail hawk likely could carry one away, but I’ve not seen an attempt, though they have made a few close passes. The bald eagle clearly could easily carry one away. It has made a fly by about tree top level but no attempt to snatch a hen. The bald eagles nest over on the riverbanks and have several trees they favor, so it is not uncommon to see them.