Lost my favorite hen

cmom

Hilltop Farm
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
29,358
29,486
901
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
So sorry for your loss. I have had plenty of predators issues over the years. I don't free range anymore due to losses from predators. I have nice large pens for my birds, covered pens with good heavy duty netting, electric wires around the coops and pens and concrete under the gates, again all due to losses from predators in the past. If you have a camera put it up because the predator will be back and then you will know what you're dealing with. Good luck...
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,129
41,759
1,156
southern Michigan
I'd like to mention that the right white birds are not easy predator bait! Our bantams of any color are hawk favorites, being smaller, and our white Chanteclers are no more likely to be taken than any other of our standard sized birds of more 'camo' coloring.
I've never had Dorkings, but can see that those short legs would be a disadvantage in some situations.
Watchfulness and behavior matters! Crouching will get a chicken killed if it's a land predator, who already knows where the birds are, while flying into a tree would be a better choice. Flying won't help if it's a hawk, while running under something will help.
Some birds can make better decisions while frightened than others, while some will crouch no matter what.
Mary
 

Wildgrass

Chirping
Aug 28, 2021
14
83
51
Thanks again, friends :hugs

I let them free range a bit this spring, but they are enclosed in their run again, which is maybe 20 x 20 feet with coyote-proof fencing, and has cable strung over the top. The hawk (I think) navigated around the cable to grab her in the middle of the run. This weekend we strung up more cable, but it still needs some work.

I've avoided birds with feathered feet/big feathered crests because I want them to have the best chance at getting to safety, but I suppose those short Dorking legs put her at a disadvantage. I think I'll have to hold off on adding any more to the flock for now.
 

Wildgrass

Chirping
Aug 28, 2021
14
83
51
Oops, and I missed the second page!

There was no fur, and I was too upset to scour for tracks, but I didn't see anything obvious. Given that she was in the middle of the run and not dragged to a fence, and that I have yet to spot a raccoon out here, I think a flying predator was the most likely culprit, but if I have another loss this year I'm going to invest in a game camera. I also found some spinny shiny wind chime-type things that had pretty good reviews for durability, so I'll be decorating with those too. And trying bird netting over some of the cable grid, to see how that holds up in our weather. All things considered, though, predator pressure here seems pretty low. This kind of habitat doesn't support a whole lot of chicken-sized predators.

To Candy's credit, last summer we had our neighborhood coyotes start howling during the day, which is unusual, and she immediately backed her way back to the coop and tried calling the rest of the flock to her. I wish she was still here with her chicken smarts!
 

joyce_huang

In the Brooder
Oct 16, 2021
14
19
31
I went out to the chicken run and had a nasty surprise this afternoon. Two years ago I lost 7 out of 8 hens in my very first flock to a management mistake and some coyotes. The last chicken, a silver gray Dorking named Candy, lived in my basement until the next spring when I had a safer run and some new pullets to move out with her. She was tame, smart, and my absolute favorite, basically a pet chicken that lived outside. I'm just devastated that it was her who was killed. She was in the middle of the yard, headless. I have great fencing and cables running in roughly a 1x1 foot grid over the run, but I suspect a hawk managed to navigate through it. My home is out in flat, arid range-type climate and the only predator animals I've seen signs of here are coyotes and birds of prey.

View attachment 2820716

Here she is this spring having some supervised free range time. That's the worst fence on my property, so please be kind 🥲 I'm going to need to upgrade the ceiling of my run ASAP, but today I'm just heartbroken. I always referred to her as my little shoebox because that was her shape on those short little Dorking legs. I'm going to miss her.
Many sympathies. Reading your story making me cry. I just lost my favorite 7 months old hen two days ago to an owl. I named her little white. When I found her she laying listless on the ground with a owl standing by. The owl flow off after seeing me. My little white had no external injuries but still dead. I buried her under my rose bushes. So heartbroken. Although only 7 months she had been diligently laying eggs for more than 2 months. She was beautiful, clever, full of life. I missed her so much!
 

Geckolady

Counting Chickens B4 They're Hatched
Sep 12, 2020
1,423
6,488
416
east central Arizona
So sorry to hear about your loss. I have 4 silver grey Dorking girls, and nearly lost the friendliest one a few days ago. The people on the board gave me good advice, and she's back to her normal, I'm-not-a-chicken-I-am-a-person-in-a-feather-suit self today.
 

Wildgrass

Chirping
Aug 28, 2021
14
83
51
Many sympathies. Reading your story making me cry. I just lost my favorite 7 months old hen two days ago to an owl. I named her little white. When I found her she laying listless on the ground with a owl standing by. The owl flow off after seeing me. My little white had no external injuries but still dead. I buried her under my rose bushes. So heartbroken. Although only 7 months she had been diligently laying eggs for more than 2 months. She was beautiful, clever, full of life. I missed her so much!
It's so hard, isn't it? I love the rest of my birds, but I feel Candy's absence when I'm out there with them. I'm sorry you lost your girl, and I hope you figure out a solution to keep that owl away.
 

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