Another cautionary tale.

bawkbawkbawk

Crowing
11 Years
Mar 29, 2009
1,677
114
256
Coastal Southern California
I know that loss is just part of the deal with a backyard flock. But this one took me completely by surprise:

https://polloplayer.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/no-fairytale-ending/

My coop and pen are pretty secure. No incursions in eight years of flock keeping. So most likely human error. This little chick had a tendency to wander the wrong direction. Which is why I post this. We supervise our flock when they free-range but something went wrong this time and we paid the heaviest price. :hit

In the aftermath, we did find the tiniest openings from our pen to coop. A two-inch gap around the gate; an inch gap from pen to coop - but if it was a predator, wouldn't there have been some indication? There was nothing, not so much as a feather:(
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,513
20,793
907
Southeast Louisiana
It is rough when you lose one. Loss is part of it, but that doesn't make it easier.

I don't disturb the broody and her chicks at night to do a head count. When a chick is in trouble or separated it gives a loud plaintive peep, hard to miss. If you didn't hear that peep it is extremely likely there was nothing you could do at that point. I've had them get trapped and be unable to join the hen, you can hear them.

Since they were free ranging it could have been several things. At that size a hawk (or owl if later in the day) could easily carry it away. A fox, dog, or bobcat could easily not leave a trace.

About the only thing I can think of inside the coop with those types of openings to not leave a trace would be a snake. A snake would not be able to exit through that 1" hole after swallowing a chick but it might manage a 2" hole. With a chick that size it might be tight.

Gates are often a weak point, you can easily have gaps. I once lost a chick being raised by a broody as that chick found an opening big enough in the gate to my grow-out pen and went inside. The 8-week-old chicks in there killed it and the broody could not get in to protect it. I quickly fixed that gate.
 

bawkbawkbawk

Crowing
11 Years
Mar 29, 2009
1,677
114
256
Coastal Southern California
Hi @Ridgerunner - thanks for your input. My best guess is that when my husband put them away this little one went the wrong way and ran down the outside edge of the pen. Mama would have headed over to the inside pen edge to be close to her and neither would have sounded the alarm because they could see one another through the hardware cloth. It would have taken them awhile to realize the problem. And by then we had left to go to dinner. I will never forgive myself for not double checking on them.

I haven't seen a snake on our property for 20 years and then it was in the "back 40" (meaning the back 1/3 acre) but that isn't to say it couldn't have happened. If you build it they will come, as they say. My husband plugged the hole in the gate. Second chick is accounted for and fine. But I am just gutted over it. Ugh.
 

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