Lost half of my chickens


My Patronus is a Chicken
11 Years
Apr 22, 2008
My family went to Texas for a reunion of my side of the family this weekend. We left on Wednesday and came back on Sunday. Our normal dog sitter was unable to take our dogs so we ended up leaving them in the backyard and my sil was going to come over twice a day to feed the dogs and collect eggs. My chickens have an enclosed run with wood slats across the top so they can't fly out. We haven't had any chickens get out of the run since we put the wood slats on the top about a year ago. On Friday we got a call from my sil that somehow, two of the chickens had gotten out and the dogs had killed them.
She maintains that she closed the run securely and that the chickens must have either gotten out over the top or the door must have come open. In the 2.5years since we built the run, the door has never just come open. You can't just swing it shut though, you actually have to latch it. My guess is that she swung the door shut but failed to make sure it was latched. She refuses to take any responsibility for it and continues to say that the door must have been faulty
. The next day she came over again and there was another dead chicken. She hadn't made sure that all the chickens were accounted for and one must have still been outside the run when she closed it up.

Not only were the chickens dead, but she then just left a bowl full of dog food out to free feed the dogs. One of our dogs is very food aggressive with other dogs, hence the need to have someone come over and feed them twice a day. We explained many times before we left that he is food aggressive and that allowing them to have contact while there is food around will cause a fight. She figured it would be ok to leave it, that the non-aggressive dog would just back off when the other one snapped at him. I guess the scar on his face from a previous fight (it was quite some time ago, the dogs haven't gotten into a fight in many months now because we know how to handle the issue), wasn't a clear enough indicator. When we found out she just left the food out, we told her she had to go back and remove it or we would come back to more than just dead chickens. One of the dogs does have a healing scratch on his chest, probably from them fighting over the chickens. We ended up asking another friend to come pick up the dogs and keep them for a night until we got home just to make sure no more chickens would be killed if they weren't back in the run, and to make sure someone was feeding the dogs that understood how they have to be kept separate.

My sil is a very nice person and I was very grateful that she was helping us out with feeding them, but I am really angry that she refuses to believe that the death of almost half my flock is due to her negligence. I have now lost half my chickens in the last month (one died earlier this month on a super hot day despite having ice blocks and a small pool in the run to help them cool off). I have no more EEs and my favorite Aussie hen is gone. I spent all that time, effort, and money to raise healthy laying hens and I have to try and start over just as winter is beginning. Great.



9 Years
Apr 5, 2010
Austin, TX
I am sorry for your loss. I would be very upset. The only solution I have is to never let her take care of the chickens/dogs again. People that don't have said animal really may not "get it".

Egg Crate

9 Years
Oct 13, 2010
I would guess that your SIL has no pets or animals of her own or she would have understood how important it is to follow owner's instructions to a "T". She was obviously careless and didn't want to be bothered with details. A real shame and so avoidable. I am seriously thinking of setting up a webcam for the coop as well as the house so I can keep an eye on things while I'm away at work. I understand monitoring systems are fairly reasonable now. Cuz if you want something done right....................................r


9 Years
Jun 23, 2010
Skagit Valley, WA
I am so sorry to hear that you lost so many chickens.

However, your SIL has no excuse. I woul dbe so mad.
After having similar experiences wihtout dogs, my husband and I are very careful when we leave our animlas in the care of others. If we can't find someone we trust. We don't go.

Knock Kneed Hen

California Dream'in Chickens
9 Years
Feb 15, 2010
So. Cal.
UGH!! It's so hard to find someone trustworthy to take care of the animals. I have a neighbor equally , well....uptight about her pets as I am so we trade off. It's wonderful and I know that when I ask for something to be done a particular way it's going to get done that way. Better to pay someone to do it the way you want then to rely on someone who doesn't get it and doesn't care to get it. Sorry


In the Brooder
9 Years
Oct 8, 2010
Oh my - or as I like to scream O-M-G!!!

It took us a long time to find a chicken "sitter" that we could trust. My heart goes out to you, really, I am SO sorry for your losses, and having to try and hash this out with a family member CANNOT be fun at all.

Long before I lived in the country with chickens I had a nice condo in a big city. And I had a GREAT neighbor who shared my love of animals and so when I got married I asked him to take care of mine....and I was utterly confident that everything would be fine. But we came back to find almost all of my fish DEAD - still floating in their putrid tanks (I had 3 tanks at the time, and 2 cats). I found cat poo and pee ALL over the place - from the bathtub to the bed...and the place stunk to high heaven. My cats were hiding under the bed and behind it- like they had been scared our of their wits. I was in such shock - not that this happened, but that my neighbor came over that night all happy like everything was great and nothing was wrong!!!!

You can't do anything about your losses except try to get a better care taker next time, and work on the anger and all the other normal feelings you are going through as a result. Like I said, it can't be fun when it's family after all. Maybe a new part of this forum could be "sitters" - there are so many people here - there's got to be some among us who would travel a short distance to ensure the health and safety of another's flocks. Hell, I do!

Big HUGS to you
. Take good care of yourself and remember that you can't change or enlighten anyone else, unfortunately - all we ultimately control is ourselves :-(.



Love My Chickens
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 28, 2009
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
My Coop
My Coop
Wow! I'd be furious! I agree with knock kneed hen...in the future you need to find someone who is as finicky about their animals' care as you are about yours...or pay someone good money to animal sit. Pay half up-front and the rest when you return. Sorry about your chickens...


Got The Blues
14 Years
Nov 22, 2007
My Coop
My Coop
It is just so hard to find someone that you can trust to take care of your animals the same way you would. Thus I will probably never leave this farm for more than 12 hours for the rest of my life...my animal life anyway.
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