Heartsick and wrought with guilt over the loss of our hen...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by GinaLozano, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. GinaLozano

    GinaLozano New Egg

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    We have kept ducks for the past five years or so - we live on 1/2 acre right in town, but ducks are allowed, and they are great organic pest control. About two year ago, a black rooster just showed up, out of nowhere, and made himself at home. Tommy (the rooster) roosts in a huge oak tree in front of our house, and has never been bothered by predators in his nine-foot high perch. About two months ago, a red hen showed up - we named her Marge. She was very friendly and personable, and had a great personality. She would follow us around the yard, eat food from the kids' hands and provide us with endless entertainment.

    Marge had been roosting on the front porch, but about two nights ago moved the the back porch. Our ducks roost out in the yard, under some bushes, and we have not had predator trouble - I now see that I have become complacent. Last night about midnight, I heard Marge making noise - I went outside and saw a large raccoon just off the back porch, but the hen was nowhere to be found. I chased off the raccoon (didn't have a weapon, unfortunately) and looked for the hen. I found her in the flower bed next to the porch - she was frightened, ruffled and clearly out of sorts, but looked to be in one piece.

    Knowing that she needed to be protected against the coon, I coaxed her over to our old duck house (which we have never been able to get the ducks into.) She followed me willingly, placing her trust in me to keep her safe (this is what I feel worst about today - how happily and willingly she came with me after the ordeal.) I locked up the duck house and went back in to bed, thinking we had narrowly dodged a bullet. This morning, when I went to release her, she was dead. I didn't look too closely, but when my husband took her out to bury her he said her leg was nearly gone, and her thoracic cavity had been torn out. Clearly, the raccoon came back and got in the duck house with her.

    We over-built the duck house, and I thought it was predator-proof...we used heavy metal grating (diamond-shaped) rather than wire, left no spaces at all in the construction. Most of the 4X8X4 structure is plywood. I have no idea how the raccoon got in, because all of the doors were still latched this morning. I am absolutely wrought with guilt. I have been crying off and on all morning, because I feel responsible for her demise. I feel worst about "rescuing" her, only to put her in an inescapable box where she would be slaughtered.

    Having never had chickens before, I didn't understand what great pets they make. Marge's short time with us opened my eyes, and piqued my interest about adding chickens to our backyard menagerie. In time, after I have built the Fort Knox of all chicken coops, and after the hurting stops, I would like to get another hen or two. I know Marge was one of a kind - but can anyone suggest a breed type that is disposed to being friendly and personable like she was?
     
  2. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Delewares are bery social birds, but i know that it
    Honestly depends on the bird we have leghorns suppose to be flighty birds but they want attention (atleast my girls do) we have two delewares and both are social one alittle more then the other. Adella is very friendly, she wants to be a house chicken and follows my daughter and i around and will sit in our laps wanting to be held and petted. But della likes to follow and talk to us and eat out of our habd but outside of that she doesnt want to be touched.
     
  3. Rod-T

    Rod-T Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think there's great birds within most breeds.. delaware or buff Orpington have been known to be sweet
     
  4. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Silkie girls are pretty sweet. I've had very good luck with GSLs from a personality perspective, but their health is questionable (EYP and internal laying abound in high production breeds.) Jersey Giants are fabulous. Very personable and tolerant. I remember my toddler carrying one of ours around the yard when the chicken was practically as big as the kid. The birds would let her carry them all over the place.
     
  5. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry for your loss. Try to take comfort in trying your best. Unfortunately, there are few safe places. But are you sure she wasn't already injured when you put her in the duck house? Was there evidence of a struggle where she was found dead? The raccoon had to have gotten in and gotten out. If you don't see evidence of either, you may have simply put an injured bird in the duck house unknowingly.
     
  6. hayley3

    hayley3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hard to keep raccoons out...I feel your pain. After I read your post I removed my goose from the barn and put her in the back yard. I also bought a baby monitor so I could hear as I just lost a guinea from an invader. I understand the guilt but we can only do our best.
     
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome, and I'm so sorry for your loss. Many of us have learned the hard way about predator protection, and it can be horrible for the birds. Me too! I've got that Ft. Knox coop, safe until the bears come at least, and right now the flock is locked down after a hawk took one of the baby bantams. It's reality, everyone loves chicken, but the most important thing is a safe coop for night time. In spring, start over with some adorable chicks, or find some healthy hens to adopt. One bird is too few, at least three is a good social group. Marge had a great life with you. Mary
     
  8. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

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    I'm sorry for your loss. Don't beat yourself up over this. Some lessons are hard learned and the majority of the forums membership can site similar experiences. You learn and move forward to do better the next time.

    You mentioned the grating. If the holes in the grating are large enough for a raccoon to reach it's arm through then that is likely what happened. Raccoons are known for reaching through chicken wire and tearing apart birds without actually getting into the coop/run.

    Now that you know you have raccoons and it knows you have food (birds) you'll probably want to lock everyone up (rooster and ducks). Replace wire or overlay existing wire with 1/2" hardware cloth to keep the raccoon from reaching in.
     
  9. liz72703

    liz72703 Out Of The Brooder

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    So sorry! That is heartbreaking but don't beat yourself up. You had no way of knowing what would happen. [​IMG]

    There are many wonderful breeds that are known for friendliness. I have a Brahma and she is a big sweetie. I don't have any Orpingtons, they are considered the "Teddy Bears" of chickens and most people love them. You can read about different breeds here:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/products/category/chicken-breeds?sort=rating
     

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