My poor chickens have had a very rough week!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mistymeadowchicks, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. mistymeadowchicks

    mistymeadowchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It started Tuesday. I had a meeting w/ a customer that ran late & I got home after 7 pm, almost an hour later than the chickens are normally locked up for the night. (They literally free range during the day on 9 1/2 acres.) When I did the head count I was missing 6!! chickens which just does not happen. (I've lost 2 in the past 10 months!) I walked around the house w/ the flashlight--didn't find signs of anything. I figured I would have to look again in the morning & grabbed the outside waterers, which stay in the basement overnight so they don't freeze. When I went through the garage, there were my "missing" hens-- roosting in various & assorted places. Very odd! Everybody has always returned to the coop to roost. '[​IMG]' And once the lights were on, they were no longer roosting! So I spent the next hour catching & carrying the dingies back because they had no intentions of being shooed or coaxed. I locked them up, checked that the hatch door was secure over their exit shoot & went inside. The next morning when I let them out, the insulation in the ceiling had been pulled loose from one entire side of the roof (faced batts were stapled to the rafters.) Several of the hens were still on the roosts with batts draped over them--the sky really was falling! I'm standing at the door going 'SCUZE ME!--what possessed you guys to ransac the coop?--you haven't bothered anything in the 8 months you've been living in here! '[​IMG]' I grab the staple gun & just for good measure, string, & went to fix the mess since it would be dusk when I got back home. That side of the roof is very steep--probably a 14/12 pitch sitting on a 4' tall wall which creates a little valley where the two meet; I had lined it w/ metal lathe (like the masons use for stucco) to keep critters out. And at the back side of the coop was a brown furry body wedged into this little crevice--perhaps why some of the girl's didn't want to camp in the coop last night! At first I thought possum & was going to grab it by its tail (w/ heavy gloves), drop into the waiting dog crate & have neighbor haul it far far away. Minor problem--I could find his scrawny bare tale & when he poked his head up--I was face to face w/ a raccoon! which I was definitely NOT going to pick up to put in the crate! But, the idea of firing either a 410 or a 9mm pistol (my choices OH) inside the coop didn't seem particularly smart (visions of the entire end of the coop--window, roof, walls-- missing, not to mention 'coon splattered everywhere!) And, as mad as I was at the thought of that critter hurting my hens, I doubt I could have shot that cute little face. (Sorry I'm a sucker!) So I called my neighbor again, he brought a pipe & noose used for relocating black snakes when they got in his barn. Mr. coon went for a nice long ride in the dog crate to his new home 8 miles away. I am pretty sure he got in during the day when both the door & the hatch were opened; I'm guessing I trapped him when I closed up late Tuesday night! And he wasn't having much luck getting back out! Lessons to be learned: If the chickens are acting odd, there's probably a very good reason! And, before you lock your flock up for the night in their safe secure coop--check for uninvited guests! So far as I can tell--the only damage was missing eggs & somebody lost some feathers on the coop floor.

    And just as we're begining to recover from Mr. Coon's visit--drama #2 hits! Today I got home about 3:00 & was met by the neighbor's dog who is a big goofy friendly mutt--with one of my red hens in his mouth!!! '[​IMG]' I get out of the car screaming #%*@% Mugsy, Bad Dog, NO! & he drops the hen, she shakes her feathers out & runs off. Now this dog is very seldom loose to begin with (maybe twice last year), but when he has been here before, he totally ignored the chickens. ( He's here for people attention & to make sure all the neighborhood dogs are still spayed.) His owners have chickens & if the poor dog had even thought of looking at a chicken, I'm sure he would have been shot. But obviously, temptation got the best of him for some reason today. I chased him off, then realized none of my 19 chickens were around & they always appear when anybody drives up. [​IMG] I'm looking & only finding one of the gold comets (the dumb one who will not stay with the flock & I know is going to get gone) and the very ornery little black BR hen named the Witch. Just great--my flock got wiped out except for one w/ a death wish & my least favorite! [​IMG] I dump groceries on the couch, change shoes & head back outside in the rain calling chickey-chickey (which is our secret code for "I have treats!") & usually brings them on the run. No luck! I check the garage which is one of their rainy day hangouts & there are feathers everywhere, but not attached to any little chicken bodies! Fifteen minutes later on the 3rd loop, I hear very soft occasional clucking in there & found four hens--wedged under the riding mower deck, the utility cart, a bucket & between 2 pieces of plywood leaned against the wall--in places way too small for chickens to fit! They are obviously rattled, but only one seems to have been hurt--she is bare from her wings back, totally plucked & he evidently grabbed the little tail stub too, because it's bloody. I took them into the basement, dried them w/ the hair dryer, doctored the injured & gave them feed while I was looking for the rest. Then I found one of my (favorites since I raised them from chicks) Amberlinks in the boxwood, not under it mind you, but actually about 2 feet off the ground wedged in the branches! She's in a bush, not a tree! And then I found a few more gold comets wedged in other boxwoods. Then several of the other Amberlinks cautiously appeared from the woods. And on one of the loops, my biggest BR alpha roo had returned to the coop. I also found the poor hen that Mugsy had in his mouth, wedged under a log. I honestly thought she was just a pile of feathers she had flattened herself so much! Believe it or not, she's missing a few feathers on her backside & has a pitiful 2 feather tail, but seems to otherwise be fine. By 5:00, the only two missing were my smaller roo & one comet hen. And, I kept thinking I heard ( or imagined) a rooster crowing far away, but couldn't figure out the direction. I was standing on the porch & low & behold I saw my other roo way out in the neighbor's field![​IMG] I'm hiking across there calling chickey-chickey & he is literally running toward me--which is one of the reasons I like this guy so much. When I put everybody in the coop for the night, I'm still short one hen (& have the bloody one in a dog crate in the basement), but I haven't given up yet. I didn't find any bodies & on several other occasions, I was sure I'd lost somebody only to have them re-appear the next morning (usually the dumb one!) I've even managed to have the "missing" one show up in the coop?? Here's hoping she's ok & that this will be the end of the drama around here for a long while!! I said a major prayer of thanks for dodging potential carnage, not once, but twice in the same week! And I really need a quiet uneventful weekend! '[​IMG]'
    Yvonne
     
  2. hallerlake

    hallerlake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Let us know if the missing show up in the morning. Have yourself a drink, or a cup of tea, or a chunk of chocolate, or whatever is soothing to you.
     
  3. amydurose

    amydurose Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 4, 2010
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    Any news [​IMG]
     
  4. mistymeadowchicks

    mistymeadowchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 19, 2010
    No sign of her yet. And sorry for the delay in posting. I spent a while outside looking for her, after I got the coop cleaned--still haven't found a body or any more feathers. She was NOT miraculously inside the coop this morning. '[​IMG]' My little roo is crowing his head off though, so maybe if she's hiding, she'll rejoin the flock soon. Here's hoping & thanks for your concern! '[​IMG]'
     
  5. kla37

    kla37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] to your chickens! I hope the little lost one shows up! They sure did have a bad week! Here's wishing you a nice quiet weekend!
     
  6. AnaD

    AnaD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the entertaining story and the mostly happy ending. I think I like you dumb one best [​IMG]
    Sounds like you have had a rough week too!
     
  7. ginormous chicken

    ginormous chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 18, 2011
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    [​IMG] You are a good chicken mommy! Rounding up chickens is hard work! Sorry!

    I freaked out and posted about 3 weeks ago, when a new hen I put out never came back to roost. I learned that night new birds need to be confined to let the flock get to know them. Well... it has been 3 weeks and she still doesn't come home to roost. I have to catch her before dark and shoo her in. She prefers the big redwood tree to roost instead. This is all by way of saying maybe your last one is just roosting in a tree and will come down in the morn. [​IMG]
     
  8. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't help but think your little rooster was out in that field with the one remaining lost hen? Can you search that area?
     

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