One post mentioned that trees provide perches
for avian predators but said that chickens can tolerate some trees. Otherwise, I
believe Edge is right that there has been no mention of predators, and they may
be an important factor.
I once flushed a hen Greater Prairie Chicken off
a nest of a dozen eggs while walking Taberville Prairie for Henslow's Sparrows.
I found the nest only because she exploded almost from under my feet. The nest
was in thick tall grass, not the kind of stuff I would expect most of the
predators Edge mentioned to be wandering about in. Without having done any
research, I have the feeling that chickens can protect themselves pretty well in
their native habitat. I'm not sure how vulnerable the adults are when they
forage on neighboring farmland or whether Edge's idea that the same number of
predators that formerly existed in a larger area would now be present in a
smaller area. Certainly dogs and cats are a new addition. I suspect that
bobcat and fox numbers are down, while coyotes may be more numerous than
previously. I speculate that the chickens' greatest adversay may be the Great
Horned Owl, and there may be more of them around now than in prehistoric
If someone knows the answers, I'd be interested
to learn them.