After moving to our new location in the summer of 2016, we began, for the first time to have a major problem with predators. We found out there was a band (also know as a pack or rout) of 7 coyotes living at the nearby reservoir. They took about 10 of the chickens over a 3 month period. They became so brave that one even approached and snagged a hen right in front a customer.
So, we are now in the process of creating covered runs for our 5 different coops. Because I will be breeding a little more seriously in 2018, the pens will also serve to separate the 3 breeds that I have.
In addition to the coyotes, there is a juvenile red tail hawk and a great horned owl that seem quite interested in the birds. The owl is huge and I was told most likely is a female. She only seems to come around at dusk and dawn as they like to hunt in very low light.
The hawk however has been terrorizing everyone for a few months. He is not very subtle and will come down, sit on top the fence and eyeball the flock. I have heard about hawks taking chickens but have wondered if this is just the younger poultry or maybe bantams? Once, we saw a hawk on the ground fighting with a hen until it finally gave up and flew away. They were approximately the same size. I imagine an eagle would have an easier time, or a flying predator that struck a bird during flight.
Regardless, no one wants to lose the flock they have raise up for eggs, breeding or maybe even as family pets. And I guess more security is the answer.