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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