DEVASTATED. Lessons in newbie chicken-keeping UPDATE on P.3

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ninjapoodles, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    Building the best chicken-yard in the world does no good at all if you don't make SURE you've locked it up tight at night. I'm done crying now, but I'm still kicking myself for my stupidity. I'm not even blaming my husband, though we're equally at fault.

    We've been letting the flock of 29 10-week-old buff Orpingtons (well, including 3 non-BOs: a silver leghorn and 2 Araucana/EEs) come out to range in the afternoons. We enjoy sitting outside with a cold drink and watching them. And they've been really great about heading back to their yard and coop at sunset, at which point one of us goes out and locks them up tight and turns on the electric fence. Except last night, we each, for whatever reason, thought that the other one had done it.

    This morning, the destruction was devastating. We collected 7 dead bodies from the area around the chicken yard. Not a visible mark on any of them, no blood, just dead. Big, beautiful, healthy, wonderful birds, including our favorite roo, just dead. Inside the yard, 4 Buff Orps are still living, two pullets and two cockerels. One of the cockerels is limping a little, though.

    Totally MISSING are 15 birds: 13 Buff Orps and 2 Araucana/EEs. We found a whole bunch of feathers from the Araucanas, so aren't holding out any hope for them, but we're foolishly hoping that perhaps a few more live Buff Orps are hiding somewhere and may turn up. I know, they're not. But still.

    I'm just sick. And this late in the year, I don't want to have to order from a hatchery again, but I don't know of any breeders local to me (I'm in central Arkansas). Plus the wind's just been taken out of my sails, knowing that all that hard work was obliterated due to my own carelessness, and could have been avoided if we'd just asked each other last night, "Did you put the chickens up?"

    From now on, believe me, there WILL be an evening checklist: Feed/water horses, walk dogs, lock up the chicken yard.

    Ironically, my Narragansett turkey poults arrived today, but I can't even enjoy them like I would have otherwise, because the pall of losing almost all of my chickens in one night is hanging over me.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  2. A Carolina Chick

    A Carolina Chick Songster

    Apr 16, 2008
    I sorry to hear about your loss! I wish I could help you in some way. :aww
  3. smith2

    smith2 Songster

    Jan 5, 2008
    Paris, TN
    Wow, I don't how many times my husband and I have looked at each other late at night and said, "Did you close the chicken door?" One of us then gets up and goes out in the middle of the night and closes it. It was bound to happen sooner or later. One night we left the door open all night and just got lucky. Try not to be too hard on yourself or each other. Learning to keep chickens is a lot like learning to keep small kids all over again. Sorry for your loss, but don't let it ruin your enjoyment of your birds, and don't be afraid to start over. These kinds of things happen to just about everyone who keep animals at one time or another [​IMG]
  4. FrontPorchIndiana

    FrontPorchIndiana Songster

    Mar 8, 2008
    It could happen to even seasoned chicken keepers, so don't give yourself too hard of a time. I'm so sorry for your loss. :aww
  5. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    Thanks, guys. Right now I just feel SICK. I'm not sure what to do about starting over. I wish there was a directory somewhere that showed local breeders, because I'm sure they're out there. When we do get more chickens, we'll want Orpingtons (any color) and my husband, who is after all doing all the hard work building coops and pens, has requested Marans.
  6. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    Also...would raccoons or possums kill without leaving any marks? Early on, before we fortified the pen, we lost two to raccoons, but they were torn apart. These today looked like they just laid down and died.
  7. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I know how hard it is to take. About 3-4 weeks ago I did kind of the same thing.....I didn't get a gate latched and some of my BBS orps wandered out and my dogs got a bunch of them. I still can't believe I did it. I never did find all the missing either. I lost 12 and and found remains of 7.
  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    I'm so sorry! Don't give up hope on the missing, yet. I've known of people who have had chickens return after a day or two, after scattering and hiding during an attack.

    All you can do now is spend time with the survivors and spoil them a bit with some favorite treats. See how you feel in a week or two. You can always try posting in the BSTG section here, if you want to.
  9. Ellie

    Ellie Songster

    Aug 10, 2007
    Redding, Ca.
    I am so very sorry. It must be a living nightmare for you guys.

    Hang in there, and know that others are here for you ... [​IMG]

  10. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    I am so sorry for your loss. I know it must be a terrible thing to find. I let mine freerange the farm, no fences, but lock them in coop each night and every morning I dread opening the door afraid of what might have happened during the night (based on how many times I've read things like this happening on this site). This morning I was late getting out there and didn't hear a sound - normally they are carrying on and hopping mad that the door is closed - but this morning it was late and everything was really quiet - I thought "Oh no" but opened door and they all came running out. Like I said, it happens to the best of them and it is a fact of life with raising chickens.

    As to what would kill them without any sign and just leave them - a dog. Do you have a dog that would have been out at the time?

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