Originally Posted by Gold Coaster
Hello Little Red Hen,
I wish I had 6 acres of forest, but without all those predators! That would be a perfect little chicken paradise.
My biggest concern here is stepping on a snake in the morning when I go to let my chickens out and I think Australia takes the cake when it comes to the biggest range of venomous and non-venomous snakes. Most of them live in the sea mind you, but enough live on dry land to be a concern. That reminds me, not long ago there was an article in the news about a Carpet Python here on the Gold Coast which managed to get into a chicken coop. The owner was using golf-balls to train the chickens to lay eggs in the nesting boxes and the snake thinking they were real eggs, swallowed them. He ended up in surgery in our local wildlife sanctuary and was named Callaway after the brand of golfballs he swallowed. Here is the link if you're interested, complete with the x-ray of Callaway:
I've heard that raccoons are a big problem as they are very persistant and determined at finding a way into a chicken coop, but bears and wolves sound equally as bad in my books. I'm trying to visualise what I would do if I saw a bear tearing after my flock of chickens. I don't know if I would even be able to aim a weapon straight. What is the one predator which bothers you the most?
It's good to have a sheep-dog, err I mean chicken-dog to look after your flock. Was s/he raised with your chickens or was s/he just naturally accepting of them? In our neighbourhood we have some domesticated dogs that are let free to wander, and unfortunately they will take the opportunity to maim your chickens if you don't have a fence or if they escape. We once saw a beagle try to tear into a wild cockatoo and without our intervention the poor bird would have been killed.
I hope I don't sound too nosy, but I'm really quite curious to learn how other people raise their chickens especially in other parts of the world!
Haha, that is not the first time I have heard of a snake getting fooled by a golf ball! I heard a story of a snake which went into a nest box, and ate a golf ball thinking it an egg. Then he took a shortcut through a knothole into the adjoining nest box to check for eggs there. Well once the lump of the golf ball got to the knothole the snake was stuck!
While bears and wolves do sound like more of a threat (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!) for the most part they aren't. Wolves are very smart, too smart to have anything to do with people. You very rarely see them even in the wildest uninhabited forest, when you do you are a lucky person indeed. Bears can be pests in the spring when they are hungry, but mostly because of their capacity to destroy property. A neighbor had one tear the siding off his barn to get at the birdseed inside. For most bears usually all that you need do to scare one off is fire a gun in its general vicinity. A steady hand is helpful, but not required!
As for dogs, yes, that is tricky. There is only so much one can do about a neighbor's poorly behaved pet. (Perhaps leave them bits of meat laced with hot sauce??!) I am very lucky with my dog. She is a mutt that was a stray. I had no idea how she would be with the chickens, and she has the instincts of a hunter. She catches rodents and even rabbits. So when we had the first batch of chicks in a box in the living room and she paced around it licking her chops I thought the worst. But once the chicks were outside free she never gave them another look. From the very first day she protected them from other dogs. I didn't train her to do this, can't take the credit at all. Like I said, I got lucky.