I might be their worst enemy

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Matt-B, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. Matt-B

    Matt-B Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2010
    West Lafayette
    Hi all, had chickens for about 6 months now. We live in northern Indiana - it's been cold. They free range all day - they seem to like the snow.

    We keep loosing chickens - lost 4 in the last 4 weeks. They just dissapear with no signs.

    Two days ago, my son was giving treats to a wandering bird up by the house. She pecked at it a bit, then disappeared. After searching for a few minutes - I told him to look under the truck (it was about 15 degrees outside, and I figured she went under there to enjoy the warm engine)

    There she was, only she wasn't standing under the truck, she had climbed onto the undercarriage. Couldn't see her unless we looked up into the underside...

    Normally, when I start the truck, they all scuffle away - I thought. This one didn't. She stayed right there, even as I drove out to the barn (a good 200' away).

    If my birds are getting under the truck in the evening and not going into the coop (it's dark, I don't count, sometimes they sleep in the woods around the coop), then stay there when the truck starts in the morning because it's dark, they would go to work with me!!!

    Anyone ever heard of a stray chicken in town? I'm worried mine are slowly becoming stowaways.

    Any advice?
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    If they are roaming the woods by day and sometimes sleeping out there, or any place else that's not secure, then they are more likely getting picked off by predators. And of course once predators learn they can get a meal at your place they'll keep coming back until the chickens are gone.
     
  3. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 27, 2010
    Do you have a good rooster?
     
  4. Matt-B

    Matt-B Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2010
    West Lafayette
    Nope, he and his favorite girl friend were eaten while protecting the flock about 3 months ago, they were the first, and last we've lost until now. Still looking for another rooster to manage the hens. When we lost the first two, we found evidence (bunches of feathers in two different spots) - but the last 4 have vanished without a trace.

    Free ranging the way we do, we know that our flock is at risk, and we're OK with it to a point. We figured a 50-75% survival rate for the first year, and we're way ahead of that, even with 6 birds gone now. They live the way God intended - free, and it's survival of the fittest. The birds are healthy, friendly and happy, and we dont' want birds that can't take care of themselves most of the time. Thousands of other birds live around us, we figure our chickens can adapt a little too.
     
  5. sred98

    sred98 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2008
    Oklahoma
    I free range mine, also, but they all go into the barn at night. If you put a light in the coop (just a simple bulb, or a heat lamp) and give them a bit of scratch in the coop in the late afternoon, they'll all start going in at night and have a warm safe spot to sleep. I close mine up at night, and let them out every morning. It gives me the best opportunity to see if anyone is sick, moulting, or broody.

    The problem with chickens running around is that most of their wild instincts have been bred out. And they don't think ahead like a dog about finding a warm spot to sleep. Just wherever they are when the sun goes down is where they stay! They can be trained that when you call them, they know they'll get treats. Then you can lock them up.

    If you don't want to do that, then you need to get a cold-hardy bird that still has a lot of it's instincts. A dark Cornish would be a good choice. It has a flat comb, they are great foragers, and I've seen mine fight off hawks and win! She can also outrun any feral dog that wanders over.

    Just an idea,

    Shelly
     
  6. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 27, 2010
    It sounds pretty spartan. You might want to 2x4 field fence an acre or two for the ranging, I would. Raising chickens for me is such an investment. If I didn't do anything, there wouldn't be any chickens. That's the reality for me! [​IMG]
     
  7. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    Sounds like you need a fenced yard for your truck [​IMG]


    A coyote will take a bird and NOT leave a trace.
     
  8. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I free range, too. I also free range three dogs who stay on our property (about 11 acres.) They ignore the chickens but bark and chase like crazy at any little furry critters that come around. I hear coyote howl nearby at night sometimes, have seen several fox, coon, possum -- we have plenty of critters around that would eat a chicken. Haven't lost a chicken since I got the dogs trained, well over a year ago -- I just taught them the "leave it" command with only praise for reward, and now they leave them alone whether we're watching or not. Many nights I hear the dogs chasing off something. The chickens also don't seem to range further than our property.

    Best of both worlds. The chickens have true freedom plus at least a measure of safety. I know the day is coming I'll have losses, but these dogs certainly have cut that back. Before them, I watched fox and other critters gradually take most of a flock.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2010

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