Losing chickens, feeling guilty

15185503

In the Brooder
Aug 5, 2019
15
10
37
Northern IL
Hi there,
We are new to raising chickens. We have a coop and a small fenced in pen, but we allow them to free range in the yard during the day. The most chickens we've had a time is 15. Unfortunately, we keep losing them. To hawks, foxes, I'm not sure. I have a hard time not getting attached to them and I feel so guilty and like I'm doing something wrong and maybe I shouldn't be doing this anymore. We coop them at night and have all the safeguards on the coop/pen. But I don't know what to do when they are free-ranging because we have over an acre backyard and I can't protect the whole thing, obviously. I just feel so disheartened and am ready to give up...
 

TwoShepherds

Crowing
Apr 4, 2019
802
4,183
367
Southeast TN
Hi! I'm sorry you're losing chickens. That must be rough. I'm new to chickens also, so I'm sure you'll get more helpful advice from others. But have you considered building a safe pen or getting a tractor style coop, and not free-ranging or free-ranging them only when you're there to supervise?

Right now our flock is in a 60 ft x 20 ft chain link fence covered with bird netting during the day and a secure coop at night. Our chicken-pen isn't completely predator proof yet, but it keeps them safe from hawks and our dogs during the day, and gives them lots of room to run around (I will reinforce it with hardware cloth if we have problems, but I'm not too worried about day time predators right now).

There are lots of styles of runs, including ones that are electrified, depending on what you need to keep your hens safe. I like the idea of free-ranging, and that's what I originally planned to do, but when you only have about a dozen birds, frequent predator loss can be discouraging.

Don't give up. Chickens are too much fun. I'm sure you'll come up with a set-up that works in your situation.
 

jolenesdad

┑( ̄▽ ̄)┍
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Apr 12, 2015
3,741
19,681
792
Montgomery, TX
Hi there,
We are new to raising chickens. We have a coop and a small fenced in pen, but we allow them to free range in the yard during the day. The most chickens we've had a time is 15. Unfortunately, we keep losing them. To hawks, foxes, I'm not sure. I have a hard time not getting attached to them and I feel so guilty and like I'm doing something wrong and maybe I shouldn't be doing this anymore. We coop them at night and have all the safeguards on the coop/pen. But I don't know what to do when they are free-ranging because we have over an acre backyard and I can't protect the whole thing, obviously. I just feel so disheartened and am ready to give up...
I’m so sorry.

Could you possibly elaborate on a few things:

Where are you located?
Can you describe the area they free range in, or even better provide a photo of your backyard area?
Is your property fenced at all?
What happens when chickens disappear? Do you find any clues?
What age and breed of chickens are you losing?
How large is your coop and fenced run area?

If you could answer these, members will be able to provide really specific advice to your situation.
 

Kabootar

Crowing
Aug 15, 2017
522
1,658
280
Bihar India
Hi there,
We are new to raising chickens. We have a coop and a small fenced in pen, but we allow them to free range in the yard during the day. The most chickens we've had a time is 15. Unfortunately, we keep losing them. To hawks, foxes, I'm not sure. I have a hard time not getting attached to them and I feel so guilty and like I'm doing something wrong and maybe I shouldn't be doing this anymore. We coop them at night and have all the safeguards on the coop/pen. But I don't know what to do when they are free-ranging because we have over an acre backyard and I can't protect the whole thing, obviously. I just feel so disheartened and am ready to give up...

I am so sorry for your loss. I understand that these setbacks can be demoralising. But there is no need to feel guilty. Remember where there is a will there is a way.

Chickens were domesticated around 8000 years ago from Red jungle fowl in my country which have all kinds of predators both large and small. Infact there were more predators then than there are now. Can you imagine what our lives would have been like if the first people who domesticated chickens had given up?

Now there are many ways to protect your flock from predators. I will give you my take. First thing that you need is a well secured coop, secondly you need an electric fence to protect from ground predators. You can add a scarecrow, an attentive rooster, a goose (preferably a female) and enough hiding spaces for your birds to take shelter. These four additions will pretty much secure your flock from any arial threat.

Never give up, never give in. Good luck.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
27,239
20,334
831
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
:welcome :frow So sorry for your losses. Can you make their pen larger since you have over an acre? I have very large pens covered with netting and electric wire around my pens and coops all due to losses in the past. If you must free range you are going to loose birds.
 

ChristinaMay

Chirping
Aug 30, 2019
53
118
81
Western New York
I'm so sorry for your loss! I came to this forum to basically discuss the same thing. I got 6 chickens 2 years ago and decided to free range and coop them up at night. The following year I added 15 chicks in June and in August 12 were killed in 1 night by a crazed fox, along with 3 of my original girls, when my husband fell asleep on the couch and forgot to close their coop. I was devastated. That's honestly and understatement, it still haunts me. After that I thought I shouldn't have chickens, because I felt like a failure, the guilt was ridiculous (I love my chickens a lot). But, I find so much joy in them and wasn't ready to give up yet, so I put the remaining 6 chickens in a 50x50 run with 4' welded wire and their coop in the middle, and they no longer free range. This year, I got 15 more chicks in June (a couple are Brahma roosters), and also 4 turkey poults (2 of which are Toms). I have 2' chicken wire laying all around the outside of the run (1' on the ground and bended to go 1' up the 4' welded wire), with paving tiles on top of the 1' of chicken wire that is laying on the ground. My hope is that will prevent digging (so far so good). I then had a few hawks lurking, so I covered the entire run with nylon mesh. It was a major pain in the butt but takes a lot of stress off my shoulders with hawks and my turkeys flying out (my chickens never tried to escape, Turkeys are a whole different story lol). Even with all of this protection, I'm still locking them up at night and still stressing at dawn and dusk when I let them out in their run. Predators wiping out your flock is incredibly disheartening. In the time between when I lost my old flock and receiving my new one (a year), I realized I had to make a decision to either put in the money and work to protect my chickens because I enjoy having them and can't deal with the constant predator stress, or not have them at all. I know it sucks A LOT, but don't give up if you love having chickens like I do. They make me smile at least 5 times a day with their antics, and that alone is worth it to me!
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
27,239
20,334
831
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I don't free range anymore. I lost a very special bird a few months ago. She had a name, Gladys. She was a cross beak I had hatched out. She loved to be with us and would come when we called her. She was 3 years old when a fox snuck up while I was occupied in the middle of the day and took my Gladys. I did catch the fox. I had seen it during the day. Around here most of the predators roam at night.
 

ChristinaMay

Chirping
Aug 30, 2019
53
118
81
Western New York
I don't free range anymore. I lost a very special bird a few months ago. She had a name, Gladys. She was a cross beak I had hatched out. She loved to be with us and would come when we called her. She was 3 years old when a fox snuck up while I was occupied in the middle of the day and took my Gladys. I did catch the fox. I had seen it during the day. Around here most of the predators roam at night.

I’m so sorry!! I have a footless chicken (frostbite) that has her own little house by my back porch and I usually take her out and around with me during the day but since I’ve been seeing fox out during the day I’ve been keeping her in. I’d be devastated if I lost her. I’m so sorry :(
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
27,239
20,334
831
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I’m so sorry!! I have a footless chicken (frostbite) that has her own little house by my back porch and I usually take her out and around with me during the day but since I’ve been seeing fox out during the day I’ve been keeping her in. I’d be devastated if I lost her. I’m so sorry :(
:welcome :frow Thank you. Gladys was a very special bird. She loved my husband who is not really a chicken lover and would jump up into his lap. I have never been as attached to a bird like that before. She needed special care because of her cross beak. I won't free range but my birds have nice large safe pens and when I have opened a gate to let them out, if they do come out, they stay close to the gate and don't stay out for long and go back into their pens. Good luck and have fun...
 

Chelsa'sChicks

Songster
Aug 16, 2017
629
870
202
Its a big risk to free range, but I free range my chickens. I have an automatic door opener/closer and trail cameras. This I a big help to finding out what's happening. Also what do the bodies look like after they are killed? That will tell a lot or even what animal is doing it. I do box trap, shoot and keep dogs to keep predators away. Unfortunately everything loves chicken.
 

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