Just lost 3 or 5 (maybe 6) out of 7 babies and have an injured hen, what now?

rojochicks

In the Brooder
Apr 13, 2017
26
7
22
So I just went out back to check on my hens and chicks. We had 6 adults and 7 five week olds. We let them free range in the back yard during the day, it is a fenced in 1.5 acres. (Yes, I know things can climb fences, just meaning I don't think anyone just wondered off). We just finished integrating adults and chicks into the same coop. All was well in the yard this morning around 10am and I next went out around 2:15.

I found 3 dead chicks in varying locations near the coop/run and where they like to hang out at a tree nearby, all 3 in different spots. I found a buff orpington sitting on 2 eggs in the run (yes I agree sitting on eggs in a run is rather weird, I promptly removed them and put her in our broody breaker, still not sure why there were even 2 eggs in the run unless those hens couldn't make it up to the nesting box?). My first thought was that she was defensive of her new clutch - this was a different hen than raised these chicks.

Then I found the "mother" hen of the baby chicks out behind the run and she looked off a bit with some disheveled feathers and potentially limping. I called the other girls and no one came running, which seemed like a sure sign of trouble, they never miss an opportunity to greet me and usually don't even need the call. Granted it is hot (around 87 degrees), but still no one came. I waited and waited, then 2 babies came from different directions. One ran into the run and flew up to the doorway and sat on a 2x4 thats part of the structure, and the other one ran to the mama hen and stood next to her, so I thought all seemed okay for the moment and I walked the rest of the yard to see if I could find anyone else.

I found the other 4 adult hens in a usual happy place between two large bushes near the driveway, it's shaded and I find them there frequently on hot days. I looked at all the other new found favorite places of the baby chicks and didn't find evidence of any of them anywhere, I should have had 2 more to find. When I got back around from my walk I found the mama hen had gone over to our AC, which is a favorite place to get a cool drink of "fresh" run off air conditioning water, but the baby that had been next to her was no place to be found. So now I'm back down to only having one chick in my sights and she's still perched on the board in the run.

I'm left feeling sad and heartbroken and wish I had better protected them. I just hated keeping them locked up when all the others were allowed out and everything had been fine for at least a week. I guess I'll go with looking them back up from now on, whoever ends up turning back up tonight for bedtime.

Any thoughts on what could have done this? Just wait and see if the others come back? The babies hadn't learned my chick call yet so I don't expect to find them that way.
 

rojochicks

In the Brooder
Apr 13, 2017
26
7
22
Update...I went outside after writing this and 4 babies had returned to the run. I'm going to Neosporin the injured mama and bring the other remaining hens back into the run for now after speaking with a fellow chicken friend that lives nearby.

Also, there is a stray cat that "lives" in my neighbors garage, we know it has FIV and he has been weak lately, otherwise I would have thought this was him, and maybe it still was since those babies are easy targets. But, I see at least 3 areas of the yard with feather tufts from the mom and I'm just not sure he has that much energy anymore. Maybe I'm wrong.

My neighbor also said that he's seen a fox on his game camera which he keeps up in his yard, do fox attack during the day?
 

Eggsoteric

Songster
9 Years
Nov 25, 2010
836
226
216
Maryland
Yes. This is the time of year that fox are feeding their kits so it's not unusual at all to see them during daylight hours. So sorry for your losses.
 

rojochicks

In the Brooder
Apr 13, 2017
26
7
22
Yes. This is the time of year that fox are feeding their kits so it's not unusual at all to see them during daylight hours. So sorry for your losses.

Yup it was a red fox....I actually saw it in my backyard today at 1130am. It just looked at me. Now to figure out my game plan on dealing with it and protecting whats left of my flock.
 

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