"That won't work here."

Many people, farmers included, get used to a set routine and are loathe to change that routine when challenged to do so.  I am no exception.  About 15 or 20 years ago we let our chickens roam outside of our hoop houses.  The red-tailed hawk and owl predation got up to 10%.  I called US Fish and Wildlife and a person recommended that I put up netting on the ends.  I replied something to the effect, “That won't work here.”

The pain of chicken losses became greater than the pain of change. Thus, I bought and installed netting.  The Great Horned Owls still dined through the net, but hawk kills slowed down.  This year I started putting 16" of used political signs along the bottom of the net.  Now hawks and owls have a very hard time getting an easy meal. Yesterday I found what I think is a Great Horned Owl feather and no signs of a dead chicken.

The feather of a Great Horned Owl. Raptors were cheated out of an easy meal.

The feather of a Great Horned Owl. Raptors were cheated out of an easy meal.

As a Kansas farmer friend says, "Slowly the light dawns."  I've finally figured out how to cut my raptor killed chicken losses down to nil.

Conversely, there is a producer in the southeast who lets his chickens roam around their shelters.  The bald eagles have figured out this is an easy meal.  His losses were huge and he was recently awarded reimbursement by a branch of USDA to the maximum cap of $125,000 per year of losses.  Thankfully, I don't have pockets that deep and was forced to find another solution to my predation problems.

Talk to you all soon.


P.S. An owl got a chicken last night at a spot on the net that wasn't protected by a political sign! I better head back out to work on the netting.