lost a hen-rethinking set up

mrlacewing

In the Brooder
7 Years
Jul 27, 2012
28
0
32
Hi,

I'm mourning the loss of my first hen and trying to figure out what happened to her. She was a three month old Buff Orpington and I have been letting her free range in my back yard along with her two 'sisters' and a 'brother'. They have just begun returning to their tractor coop to roost at dusk so I have been just closing the ladder and coop up when they do. Last night I lost track of time, came home a little after dark, and hurried to the backyard to shut them in. That is when I realized one was missing. I searched the yard with no luck. This morning I went back out to search again with no signs of my hen. :(

Now I'm just trying to figure out what might have happened and rethinking my set up. Wouldn't most predators have left some sort of mess behind? I was gone for a few hours, so I don't know if it happened during the day or after they went to roost.

I do have a fenced in area to keep them in, but they've been hanging out under bushes in the yard, and I felt that would protect them from hawks better than anything short of a covered coop. Stray dogs are a little bit of a concern, but I guess I've been risking that. I suppose I'm rethinking free-ranging right now, and know it's a matter of opinion, but would appreciate any opinions and advice from you guys that have more experience than I.

thanks!
Dana
 

theFox

Songster
10 Years
Sep 21, 2009
1,279
12
145
Standish, Maine
Will your missing hen answer to the sound of a treat can, jar, or other container. She may still be alive and well, just did the ole find a place to hunker down for the night and is a bit leery of coming out from her hiding place.
 

janinepeters

Songster
10 Years
Jun 9, 2009
906
84
153
A covered run to which they always have access, and free ranging for just part of the day, when you are able to pay attention to them, might be better. Be especially careful in colder part of year when foliage is gone, and trees and shrubs provide less cover.
 

mrlacewing

In the Brooder
7 Years
Jul 27, 2012
28
0
32
Thanks for that advice. I did walk around shaking the meal worm bag. :)
My husband actually found her, after seeing a very full looking cat and following the feathers. Her head was gone, and I'm wondering if it was actually the cat that killed her. (?)
Anyway, the extent of their free-ranging has greatly decreased as I rethink their setup and what I am capable of handling. I knew I could lose a hen this way but I'm pretty sad about it.
thanks,
Dana
 

welasharon

Crowing
9 Years
Jun 28, 2010
3,955
113
256
North Florida
Unless she was small its not too often a cat kills them. Although they would probably not turn from eating one they found dead. It's possible...just not too common.
 

mrlacewing

In the Brooder
7 Years
Jul 27, 2012
28
0
32
Thanks Janine, that's what I'm leaning toward. Although now I just have two hens and a rooster. They seem so, well, cooped up in there all day. :0)
For the time being, I'll just let them out when I can watch.
Dana
 

mrlacewing

In the Brooder
7 Years
Jul 27, 2012
28
0
32
I have seen this cat lurking about but really didn't think it would kill one. They are young but a large breed. I have a pretty tough cat and she is afraid of them. My dread was that something got her out of the coop after they went to roost, since I was late in putting their ladder up. The feathers were scattered from the other direction, so I think it happened before they went back to the coop at dusk. Anyway, I'll be more careful in the future!
thanks,
Dana
 

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