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Conflicting thoughts

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by RoyalHillsLLC, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. RoyalHillsLLC

    RoyalHillsLLC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 5, 2007
    NW Louisiana-Vivian
    I am living one of dreams, which is to buy acreage and raise my kids in the country (153 acres, primarily young timber). I enjoy all wildlife and my domestic poultry. The birds are the first real thing my wife has taken an interest in on the farm.
    Saturday I was walking not far from my house on a trail I mow and a 6-7 foot long black rat snake (chicken snake) crossed the path in front of me. Immediately I had mixed emotions as I love snakes but feel obligated to protect our birds. I let him pass asI didn't have anything close to kill it anyway, although I could have easily caught him.
    Sunday I was walking with my daughters (4&6) and heard a strange sound about a 100 yards away. I led them down the road and saw a young raccoon on a limb, apparently in a den on a rotten tree. I enjoy watching them in their natural environment. Then I came home, went in for a while, and noticed one of our young guineas feeding with the chickens for a change. They have never associated with the chickens, always choosing to go it alone around the farm. There was no sign of the other two keets. Nightfall came and no sign of the other two keets, but the one was sleeping under the hens, getting along fine (first time ever).I got up this morning , let the birds out, and the young keet wasn't paying attention and got left behind. I picked it up to carry it towrd the door and it squawked. The rooster came running to protect her!
    Now I am wondering, where do I draw the line on predator control? I have so many, and i enjoy watching them as well, but in the last month I have lost a hen, a young roo (I would have gotten rid of anyway), and now two keets have disappeared. I have been trapping any varmints that come near the chicken yard, and killed two large chicken snakes the chickens were compalining about in the yard, but should I launch a wider control effort to be able to keep my birds?
     
  2. missusduray

    missusduray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 20, 2007
    Northern Minnesota
    That is a tough call. I understand a respect for wildlife. But then it comes down to what is more important, the wildlife(aka. Preditors) or your pets. I guess it is up to you. Me personally, I would choose my pets but sometimes the decision is not that easy. Good luck to you and your family and birds. I hope that whatever you decide to do, it turns out great for you.
    Kristyne
     
  3. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    I keep traps set at all times and if one happens to enter it then its history. Specially raccoons here in Florida we have a problem with raccoons & rabies so I take no chance. They have come in my back screened in porch before at night. I'm always afraid they will trap me or the kids on the porch and we'll get bit. We have only caught 3 this year and 1 possum. Its been a light year so far we usually have 9 or so raccoons in a year & 4 or more possums. I have killed a couple snakes down in the horse stall but thats it. Raccoon are nuisance animals and the state law says it illegal to release them back out or relocate them somewhere else. I don't mind them as long as they avoid our fenced in backyard.
     
  4. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maine
    I certainly understand your dilemma. It is hard when you feel you need to choose.

    I think for your birds you have a few choices. You could take a very harsh approach, and trap/kill/relocate anything harmful that comes close. You could decide to stock 'extra' birds, knowing that you will loose a few. You could keep your birds locked up all the time. Or you could give them 'limited' free-ranging, which is what we've chosen.

    We are surrounded by woods. We don't have the acreage you folks do (I wish we did!), but this is a very rural place, and I expect to have wild animals go for my chickens at some point. We have chosen to keep them locked in a coop/run except when we can be with them. My hope is that my babies won't wonder so far afield, and that the Fort Knox coop will protect them while they are in there. I don't want to feed foxes and coyotes around here, but I would find it hard to kill something like that unless I had no other choice (protecting my children, etc). I do think relocating is a good idea, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea that the creature may be back, or may leave undefended babies close by who will die.

    It is your call, and based on your personal feelings. (I realize my approach is very soft LOL, but I'm also the person who has milkweed growing wild in my veggie garden.. gotta feed the monarch butterfly lava if I want to see the butterflies!). I'm really trying to live in peace with my environment, and feel that it is my responsibility to protect my birds in a non-lethal means if at all possible.

    Good luck! I'm very happy for you that you folks are living your dream! Your property sounds beautiful.

    -Meghan
     
  5. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    Anyone who has read my posts knows how nutty I am about wildlife. We live in the woods, too,and have a lot of rural land surrounding us. Actually, we have found that ammonia soaked rags around the perimeter of our barn at night (we don't lay them directly on the ground) seem to help with repelling raccoons. We really have had very little problems with predators over all in the two years we've had chickens. The reason we had such a big problem this year was we had some die from a virus, and, without thinking, we buried them close enough to the barn to attract the interest of predators. We have never killed or trapped anything except a rat. Other than this spring, we have only lost one to a hawk, one to a dog, one to a skunk, two to possums, and one dissapeared without a trace, in the past two years. Most of our chicken losses have been from viruses or other illnesses, or sometimes other factors. If I were you, I'd put up some electric fence if you can, try to worry less, and enjoy your wildlife and your chickens. But again, of course, I guess it's your call.
     
  6. RoyalHillsLLC

    RoyalHillsLLC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 5, 2007
    NW Louisiana-Vivian
    I free range, so a electric fence won't help. I do pen them up at night, and have learned to make sure they roost away from the edges. It's just the time out during the day that can get us now. I don't worry about them, just try to do a good job nurturing them and give it the thought necessary to do so. For the time being, I think I will use the in the yard, you die, next to it, you live philosophy for predators. Hopefully they keep their distance.
     
  7. JudyMcKinn

    JudyMcKinn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 24, 2007
    SW MO
    You noted in your post above that you were "living your dream" with the farm, then you also noted that the chickens are the first/only thing your wife has taken an interest in on the farm. What are her feelings about protecting the chickens? Does it upset her to have some of them killed by predators? Seems it would be to your advantage to have her happy there on the farm, as well as yourself.
    My solution would be to have a predator proof pen for the chickens. With your acreage it could be reasonably large, so the chickens would be comfortable. Secure around the bottom so something couldn't dig under, and cover with deer netting, or such, to keep out the flying predators, and they would be safe and happy.
    Just my opinion, and I know there are all sorts of alternatives for you. Good Luck.
     
  8. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    You can't kill every critter you see at the edge of the woods, it's a never ending battle. The ones you get rid of will only be replaced by others. Your best bet is to keep the birds away from the edge of the woods and the tall grass. A portable electric poultry fence may be what you need. Other than that, keep a buffer of closely mowed pasture between the woods and the birds. Clear any overgrown areas at the edge of the woods. Them critters don't like to move across open areas during the day. Tall grass just invites them to come closer. Try placing large large plastic hawks or owls on fenceposts in the area and move them around every now and again lest the critters get wise to 'em... Maybe a scarecrow would work to some extent.
     

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