Hello and thanks in advance for any assistance offered. I live in southcentral Alaska outside of Anchorage about 50 miles. The area is semi-rural and heavily wooded, and I and all my neighbors own at least one acre, and many of us own two or more acres. My neighbor has always kept chickens and this year two of his australorps escaped his run and hatched a clutch of chicks in the woods between his house and mine and straddling the property of a third person. Over the summer and the fall the number of chickens in the woods diminished down to three remaining chicks. The original escapees and three or four chicks had either been taken by predators or captured and thrown back in the neighbor's coop and run, however the neighbor was never able to catch all the feral chickens. Unfortunately, the neighbor is elderly and very ill.
The chickens did fine all summer and I didn't see them very often until late in the fall. It was warm until Halloween when the temps dropped below freezing in a serious way for the first time. A couple of days later we had five inches of snow, so I began to feed them because there wasn't anything out there for them. I have some chicken feed on hand because I have two bantams who live in a giant dog kennel in a spare room. That's another story . . .
Anyway, there has been an unusual, early-season cold snap in the region, with temperatures dropping as low as -11F, and until this evening the last three days have had highs around zero. It's been miserable. When this happened I spoke with another more chicken-experienced neighbor enlisting his help to catch the chickens. We tried locating them at night when we thought they wouldn't move, but they were never in their usual place. It was harder than I wanted it to be.
It got colder. One of the three remaining chicks was killed by something, a fox or an owl maybe. I put out some shavings for the remaining two, but they weren't used to them so they didn't use them. Instead, they moved under my porch up against my house.
This is a big surprise to me because I have two big dogs who are not chicken safe and must be managed. They aren't crazed chicken murderers, and I can keep them away from the chickens under the deck if I am there to give directions, but I wouldn't trust one of them for two minutes if I wasn't looking right at him.
I have materials on hand to patch something together for them to get them out of the weather, but these guys have been feral their entire lives and they are wild chickens. I'm surprised they have come as close as they have, and it says something about how cold it is for them. Does anyone know how I can catch them? I can get under the porch but I have to crawl on my knees and then some! I don't like the idea of trying to catch chickens while lying on my belly under a low ceiling.
p.s. I hate to say this but the neighbor who lost these chickens had very sad looking chickens, and I suspect they were ridden with lice. I fear he did not give his chickens a very good life, which may be the reason they got out and stayed out to begin with. I'm rather certain the poor things under the porch have lice and possibly mites, and heaven knows what else.
Edited by Eggsakly - 11/20/15 at 1:17am