looking for local kindred spirit

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by bobbi michelle, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. bobbi michelle

    bobbi michelle Chirping

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    Aug 25, 2012
    Sonoma county
    Hi Backyard Chicken folks

    I have raised chickens off and on for 8 years. Absolutely made mistakes but have enjoyed caring for and owning chickens the whole time.

    As to those mistakes

    Two years ago we lost the whole of them from an attack by a neighbors lab. We lost one from a hawk attack and generally learned we can't have smaller chickens and rehomed our beautiful silkies.

    Last year we lost half of our chickens to a fox that lives on the property. Behind some lillies (that blocked the growing weakness visually) a corner of the hen house, a converted work house from the 30s, was a bit of decay. We have a fox that lives on the property and she figured it out before we did and scratched her way in. We have had the good fortune of having fertile eggs and a local chicken expert was kind enough to incumbate them for us. We now have 4 babies running around the chicken yard.

    Now we lost one of our two year old hens to an illness. We called vector control, and California US agriculture. We were hoping to find out why she died. Vector said they were not interested. And the Ag department has not called back yet.

    Predators are a way of life and although we are willing to wire the chicken house and a run we want them to free range and we are not about to trap or kill the hawks or the fox. Keeping them locked up at night, not letting them out until they are full sized and only having full sized chickens...are where we have drawn the line.

    Now it seems we have a new predatory and I am not sure what to think about how it got there and what it is and how I prevent it.

    I am in Sonoma county and open to feedback and a chance to learn so that I can be a better care taker of my little flock. I am want them to live healthy long lives.

    I have not given any shots until now. There hutch is well ventilated, they have access to a run and are let out to free range most days. They have clean water and organic food from the feed store daily.
     
  2. bobbi michelle

    bobbi michelle Chirping

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    Aug 25, 2012
    Sonoma county
    Oh, I meant to mention for those local to Sonoma county and I would love to see how you raise your chickens and show you mine :)
     
  3. Eggnleg

    Eggnleg In the Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2013
    Southwest Missouri
    Hi Bobbi and welcome to BYC from a relative newby compared to you. The secure coop and run are essential I find, not only for the chickens but also for the owner's peace of mind. Here in SW Missouri I have to deal with hawks, coyotes, dogs and other predators, too. When they're out, I try to keep an eye on them, and have cockerels to protect the flock, too. Actually, I'm selling most of them on Saturday, but will keep one to guard the hens. You can see the pix of my coop and run, which are entirely enclosed with buried wire and fence to prevent digging into the run. Plus, there's always some luck/ fortune involved, too!

    On another note, Sonoma County has some history and modern events I'm interested in. I know it's wine country although I haven't been, but I do know the infamous Altamont concert was held there in 1969, as I'm a fan of the Stones and also an historian. I've been a devotee of IndyCar racing since I was a child and watch them run there in late summertime. I hear it's gorgeous there.
     
  4. bobbi michelle

    bobbi michelle Chirping

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    Aug 25, 2012
    Sonoma county
    Dear Missouri

    Thanks for writing me back and for the bit about a secure chicken coop and run. When they free range it is during the day after 9;00 and no later then 7:00 in the summer 4:00 in the winter. Save for a few years back and the neighbors dog ...we don''t have any problems with the hawks or other predators as long as they are adult size larger chickens. We won't be getting silkies or bantams.

    We put a cement perimeter around the run and coop but we learned this year. We had to dig out the cement and burry wire. We also learned that one of the Sussex killed the younger pullet. She happens to be the sort of hen that needs a rooster. So now she has one. We have two chicks that are Sussex and we will be waiting a long time until we put them together. Even then we will leave the little ones in the run while we let the adults free range so they will have limited access to each other.
    We put time and attention into our chickens. We want them to have healthy humane lives. In return I myself want to enjoy their company, watching them enter act and come to the house and peck on various doors or get up on furniture or railings to peck on windows on the hoes of coming in or getting a treat. Chickens are plenty smart and at least the Sussex have a self awareness as well as a little entitlement to them
     
  5. bobbi michelle

    bobbi michelle Chirping

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    Aug 25, 2012
    Sonoma county
    Found a new predator. We had assumed the death of some of our flock was a resident fox. We only found out recently it was a stoat (aka Ermine ). The stoat came out late one afternoon and attempted to hunt the foraging chickens right in front of us. We were able to kill it before it killed another chicken. It was not fun or pleasant. I have held off killing other predators hawks, fox, raccoon. One reason I can allow those other predictors around my chickens is because it is reasonably easy to defend against them. Secure chicken coop, run and tucking them in at night. However there seems know reasonable way to keep a stoat out. They dig, climb, claw, chew and drop in through the tiniest openings. They target eggs and chickens. My only hope is hat this stoat was one of a kind. We have our eyes peeled and inspect the coop and its grounds daily.
     
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

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    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Hi Bobbi, so sorry for your weasel attack. I'm in southern Michigan and hve all the usual predators, so far thankfully no bears! My coop is Ft. Knox; no openings larger tha 1/2 inch hardware cloth, and the birds are locked in at dusk, until morning. The run isn't as secure, only chickenwire with 2"by4" wire over it. They are in the run until 10 or 11 am, then out, unless we notice a problem.. Last fall a Coopers Hawk visited and killed four birds; we locked everyon in for about a month, until he gave up. The run is covered with chicken wire also, so hawk proof. It's a federal crime to harass or kill or injuy a bird of prey. DON'T!!! They will go away if no birds are out for awhile. I trap and kill coons and opossums at the chicken house. They can't be relocated, and have killed more of my birds than any other predator. The one thing that is the most helpful, is a secure night time coop. Mary
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    14,088
    14,044
    716
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Hi Bobbi, so sorry for your weasel attack. I'm in southern Michigan and hve all the usual predators, so far thankfully no bears! My coop is Ft. Knox; no openings larger tha 1/2 inch hardware cloth, and the birds are locked in at dusk, until morning. The run isn't as secure, only chickenwire with 2"by4" wire over it. They are in the run until 10 or 11 am, then out, unless we notice a problem.. Last fall a Coopers Hawk visited and killed four birds; we locked everyon in for about a month, until he gave up. The run is covered with chicken wire also, so hawk proof. It's a federal crime to harass or kill or injuy a bird of prey. DON'T!!! They will go away if no birds are out for awhile. I trap and kill coons and opossums at the chicken house. They can't be relocated, and have killed more of my birds than any other predator. The one thing that is the most helpful, is a secure night time coop. Mary
     
  8. bobbi michelle

    bobbi michelle Chirping

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    Aug 25, 2012
    Sonoma county
    Hi Mary and the other chicken lovers on this thread
    Summer is ending and the siege is at last paused if not over.

    Going back to June we had a hen die. She just died! And she was three years old give or take a half year. It made no sense so I was nervous and called around a bit about parasites and viruses
    Then a hen ( a Speckled Sussex who to this day gives the dogs grief) killed my favorite pullet. Aft first I panicked and thought it was a diseases vs chicken on chicken attack and that's when things fell off the track ....
     
  9. Hi All,
    I am in Mendocino County. I have never even heard of a stoat thank you for the info and I am wondering now if that was what picked off most my feathered friends last year since all of them disappeared later in the day but when it was still light. Knock on wood, I had one young pullet drop dead during the night two years ago but have been very fortunate so far other than the one unsolved rampage. My normally very docile German Shepherd now goes ape when anything besides choucks, or authorized two or four legger family members enter the yard...well she is in love with a surprise litter of three week old kittens under the house but is not so patient with their mom if she cuts through chicken territory.

    We are religous about chickens being tucked in and let out but I really do want them to be able to lead happy pen free lives so I suppose some loss is enevitable, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. We "lost" a grey Cochin two days ago and were really worried...turns out she had turned broody and had found a clutch of about a dozen eggs someone has been depositing under a large bush and survived the night just fine. Blanch was not happy being uprooted and having the eggs removed, bad chicken!

    Looking forward to your post, enjoyed reading so far.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. bobbi michelle

    bobbi michelle Chirping

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    Aug 25, 2012
    Sonoma county
    Here is some very general information about Stoats. I have included a linked to a video have attached a photo.
    Stoats are native to North America ( and exist through out the continents) Stoats are on the 100 most invasive species list. The agile, strong, nimble and flexible. They can gain entry via holes 1-2 inches in diameter. They are energetic, and have a very high stamina. They can climb walls, and trees and are known to jump down on birds from above. They don't make their own dwellings preferring to take on those of they are hunting. Once they have killed their preys, they invade their space, they make their homes in their nest (in trees and bushes) or in their dens under ground. They line the new dwelling with the feathers or furs of their former inhabitants.

    Picture of a stoat
    [​IMG]

    link to hunting Stoat


     

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