May 16, 2014

Coop Losses

For the first time in over ten years, I lost a chicken overnight to a predator that got into the chicken run. Flower was one of my two oldest hens, either 8 or 9 years old. It's a shame the predator (skunk? possum? raccoon?) didn't get the young, surplus rooster instead. He's slated to go in a pot soon, but I wouldn't have minded losing him as much.

Samson and Flower
Samson and Flower



The predator ate her from the vent in. I was shocked to find visible egg yolks inside of her. As far as I knew, she hadn't laid an egg in years, but I know I have a problem with black snakes and the chickens themselves eating eggs.

It was obvious that the senior rooster, Samson, tried to save his girl; he lost all his tail feathers.

Speckles, the cuckoo marans hen, was hurt as well. She favored her right leg, spending most of the daylight hours sitting instead of scratching and pecking like a chicken should. I picked her up and inspected her leg but couldn't see any visible wound or scratch, and it didn't seem to be painful when I touched it. Two days later I realized the wound was under her wing: she was missing a chunk of skin and meat about 2" in diameter. She died that evening.

The remaining girls

A few mornings later, something had tried to dig under the coop door, but hubby built the coop strong and the attempt wasn't successful. Another morning, the wire on the gate to their run was bent and busted where something broke into the run.

Now I'm closing their chicken-size door at night and letting them out in the morning, which has upset them. They've always had access to their run as soon as dawn arrived and they don't like the new routine. I've also moved one of their waterers into the coop; both used to be in the run for easy filling-up. They've been off their feed ever since it happened, leaving a great deal of their layer pellets uneaten.

Poor Samson without his tail feathers

Predators aren't easily deterred once they've found a source of food. The chickens and I will just have to get used to this new routine.


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13 comments:

  1. I wondered how the predator situation was going after you lost the first hen. Sorry about the second hen. Hope your new routine prevents additional losses. I often wonder how the game chicken people don't loose birds with them tethered to barrels.

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  2. As long as nothing comes hunting during the daylight hours, we should be ok. I've noticed the game bird yards are fenced and I'm guessing that there is either a hot wire around the top, or there are loose dogs around the outside at night to keep predators away.

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  3. Ugh, I'm so sorry for your hens!

    We are fortunate to not have had a major problem with predators yet. We're still close enough into the city that the traffic discourages most of them, though we have seen foxes, raccoons, and skunks in our area. Just not in our neighborhood.

    The only thing we've had even threaten our birds is hawks.

    Even so, our coop and enclosure is not as predator proof as it needs to be, but that will be changing soon.

    We've always locked our chickens in at night, though. Especially when we first got them, because they would try and roost on the fence otherwise. That was an adventure...

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  4. Oh I am so sorry Kathi. We are blessed to not have a huge predator problem at our current location, but still we open and close the coop door at night to be cautious. We we move out to the land there will be predators everywhere and we will definitely continue that.

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  5. You are fortunate, Rebekah and Ann! I was negligent; we'd never had a predator get into the fenced run, so I got lazy and wouldn't shut the door in the extreme summer heat... and then I didn't at all.

    The question "how long can a hen live?" is still a mystery. I looked it up, Flower (and Nemo, still with us) was 9 years old.

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  6. Do you have a catch them "alive" trap? I keep one out most of the time... otherwise we would be overrun with predators.
    They are only trying to make a living, but....

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  7. Oh goodness!! I'm sorry to hear! Hopefully the rooster recovers without any more issues... feather loss is bad enough...

    We've had issues in this area as well. Nothing harmful to the hens have actually gotten into the coop that i know of for our situation.

    Anything else that did get into the coop (like a snake) has been taken down by the guinea roo.

    I do however have a cat who crawls under the chicken wire of the coop itself, and takes down all the mice & rats that get in. Between the cat & guinea roo (who is rather vicious towards those who he believes are "after" his hens) ... we haven't had a whole lot of trouble. One coon in 2-years...

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  8. We don't have one. We used to have so many barn cats that a live trap was a bad idea. Now that there aren't many cats, it might work...

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  9. Oh boy, I'm so sorry to read this. And you're so right, once they've succeeded, they'll come back again and again. We know we have predators around but we've been fortunate so far. Over the weekend the girls were left in the coop and a hawk was circling. We're a bit concerned about the bantams and since we no longer have a rooster they don't get the warning calls they used to. I hope you get rid of the problem.

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  10. Sad. I'm so sorry for your losses. :(

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  11. Thank you, Kathy, I appreciate it.

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  12. I'm sorry to hear about your chickens, Kathi. :( I've lost quite a few, but it never gets any easier.

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  13. It sure doesn't, Lisa. I'm sorry that you've lost some as well.

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