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One dead hen.... and it wasn't a hawk.

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Gypsi, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. Gypsi

    Gypsi Songster

    OK, chickens are not the brightest creatures on the planet, and I guess I'm not either. Because one of my barred rock hens vanished from my back yard yesterday, and I searched the yard. Not well enough.

    I have 6 ft privacy fence outside of 4 ft chain link with about 6 to 8 inches between the 2 around the yard. There was a hole dug in the chain link behind the chicken coop years ago by a dog or something, I blocked it off with a plastic plant tray when the chicks were young to keep them out of there. And I have a pile of corrugated metal roofing back next to that hole.

    I have a system, I call my birds and have a treat and for the most part they come running. Now Bard Rocks like to pick their own treat and take their own sweet time, unless I have watermelon. So I penned up 6 out of 7 and walked the yard searching for number 7, the missing Barred Rock. And no bird. So I figured a hawk got her.

    Either she was a sneaky bird and was quiet and hid between the fences or under an overhanging piece of that metal roofing pile. Or something had dragged her in under there and she was dead and it was quiet. I searched the yard, let the dogs out, walked all round the outside of my fence line calling her, asked the neighbors, gave up and went in the house.

    I went out and watered the hens this morning, and fed, and took them a treat, and they were not allowed to free range today. (I figured only a hawk could have disappeared that chicken without one feather laying anywhere in my yard, Including by that hole in the back fence.
    Then I let the dogs out for their morning yard time.

    Went out this afternoon to take them a treat, one of my 2 remaining Barred Rocks took off. while the other gals were cleaning up frozen corn and peas. (BR's are not bright are they?)

    Go looking for her and find a dead Barred Rock behind the pen, feathers all over near the hole in the fence but especially up under the corrugated metal and the hen-sized cave under it. Neck might have been broken, one leg eaten. I caught my hiding BR, re-penned her, and brought out my dogs and a rolled up newspaper. No one is interested in the carcass. My rott was very interested in the smell by the hole in the fence and the metal pile however. So I set a small live trap baited with catfood out there, and I'm thinking maybe a possum? I do have some pretty hefty possums in the area, one has gotten between those fences before. So has a big skunk. Going out to work on the wood fence later. I wired the opening in the chain link. A squirrel, rat or small possum might make it through that spot easily, but not a hen. My run is secure enough to handle things, so for right now the ladies are cooped up. I gave them some black sunflower seeds for a consolation treat.

    Thanks for reading my long story. I will never again assume a hen I can't find is truly dead or missing though. She could as easily have been hiding and one of my dogs pulled her out by her foot.....

    I feel awful.

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Not your fault, Gypsi. It happens. Sorry for your loss.
  3. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Crowing 8 Years

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    It's not your fault, very sad. It's hard losing a friend.
  4. Gypsi

    Gypsi Songster

    yes, but was it my dogs or do I have a predator? Unless someone hops in that live trap, I may never know.....
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Quote:Was it your dogs? You know your animals better than we do. Would they do that if given the opportunity? If so, then it could very well have been them, and it's time to institute some changes. Might I recommend an electric fence? Very effective, fairly inexpensive, worth it's weight in peace of mind. I've always used electric fencing and don't know how people survive without it. I'd never be able to leave my house without it. I'd constantly be wondering if something was eating my birds.
  6. Gypsi

    Gypsi Songster

    Normally the dogs don't mess with the chickens. My run is dogproof against my daughter's shepherd akita mix who occasionally visits, and he's huge. I got some heavy guage fence panels for reinforcement.

    But on mine, except for the mini dach, and that was when they were much smaller, the birds just aren't that interesting. They don't mess with the chicken run at all. I've taken the rottweiler mix outside to potty when the birds were loose, he did his business and headed for the house. My oldest dog is german shepherd/border collie and all of them can be trusted with small kittens. They've never chased the wild birds out of the yard. But if I left a chicken hiding in the yard, I'd say it is possible that it was my dogs, since the bird was mostly not eaten.
    Just not sure. I had hoped one day the 2 would mix and the dogs could guard the flock, but after today, I think it is my job to guard the flock. And since I do have hawks within a couple of miles, and I gather it's feed the babies time, I think my birds won't be loose in the yard unless I'm out there with a pellet gun.

    Electric fence won't do a thing about aerial attack. Which is what I thought yesterday's was... til I found her body..
  7. Sierra pachie bars

    Sierra pachie bars Queen of the Lost

    Nov 8, 2008
    Do not feel bad. It happens. I lost a duck a bit back. I lock all my girls and boys up each night because we have coyote's that come out once he sun goes down. Our yard backs a huge hill so they come from the hill down into my yard. So I assume a weasle came in the kennel and killed her. It also attacked another one but did not kill it. Left the older ducks alone. I was so bummed because I thought I took every single precaution to make sure everyone is safe. Just learned things happen and we learn from it. I am shocked how many other creatures want to eat my creatures. lol [​IMG]
  8. Gypsi

    Gypsi Songster

    Chicken does seem to be a universal food... Every critter thinks they are tasty at one stage or another.
  9. Sweetpeaswan

    Sweetpeaswan Chirping

    Aug 5, 2010
    So sorry for your loss, my two BR are the clowns of the flock...did you notice any tracks???? take a look around you'd be surprised at what you
    might find. good luck to you.
  10. Gypsi

    Gypsi Songster

    after the dog patrol before I found the bird, no tracks, but I just checked my live trap.

    It had been sprung, no occupant. I reset it. German Shepherd/ Border Collie helped with the flashlight yard patrol. He thinks we have company too. Run is secure so far, aproned everywhere that it is diggable except right AT the door. Thinking about putting a heavy concrete foundation block or 2 in front of that door. My run won't keep rats or snakes out, but the bait trap under the wild bird feeder has done a pretty good job at eliminating them. And I can see 100% of the floor of my run, which I really like.

    I don't think it was my dogs that got her. Dachshund might have pulled the body out from where it was stuffed and chewed on it, but I think I've got a predator. The run door has a coon proof hook down low, and a regular hook up high. Their roosts are away from the walls of the run. And at the closest point I have hardware cloth, 1/2 inch, but for an 8 inch reach to the closest perch half an inch is not much. There is screening inside that hardware cloth in most sections too - regular aluminum door screening. But a rat could climb the lower wire and hit the midpart of the run where it is chicken wire and heavy guage 2x4 fencing. It's not perfect. Have to be a pretty hungry rat with all the sunflower seeds and rat bait in the pond area, to try to get a chicken.

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