Our babies are dead

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sillybirds, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. sillybirds

    sillybirds Songster

    Aug 5, 2008
    I've been meaning to sign up here at BYC and was imagining my first post would reflect the excitement me and my kids have had getting started out in chicken raising.

    However, something dreadful happened tonight! [​IMG] I went to check on our 10 little 2 week olds that we've had for about a week. To my horror, as I opened the door from the house into the garage, I saw that the screen which had covered the brooder we'd so carefully made as a home for our chickies was partially off, with the 2X4's that had been holding it down displaced. I rushed to the brooder, and my heart sunk when I saw all 10 little badies dead on the pine shavings. I won't describe it any more because it's too saddening. I'm actually surprised how sad I am. I don't remember when the last time I was this sad.

    My dw & I just finished, by the light of a flashlight, burying our chicks in a shoe box in our "pet cemetery" in front of our home, which sadly has seen too many additions over the years with all the deceased gold fish, hermit crabs, etc. Those losses weren't nearly as hard to take.

    Trying to think what happened... The garage door was open, and I figure either a coyote or our German shepard-Lab cross must have gone into the garage. When I went to check, my dog was still in the fenced yard, but she is crafty and can get in and out through a small hole she's made. I didn't see any blood on her when I interrogated her. I'm trying to believe it was a coyote, as we have a bunch around here, and because I'd be so mad at her if I believed it was her (which deep down I do).

    My kids are spending the night with their cousins, so they don't know yet. They'd already picked which chicks would be their own and given them cute names like Kung Fu and Peep. My son called them "sillybirds," and on their brooder wrote with a Sharpie "Keep Out -- Silly Birds House!" I just know they're going to take the loss hard. I don't know if I should try to find some more chicks to replace them before they come back, or just let them go through the normal grieving process then get some later. (They obviously knew their chickies very well and I'm not at all imagining they'd be fooled into thinking that new chicks are the old ones.) Maybe there are just too many hostile elements around here to even have chickens. Very discouraging...

    Anyway, thanks for listening. I've enjoyed reading on this forum for the past couple weeks. I figured if anyone would understand my loss, it would be you guys.

    P.S. Here's a pic of our babies from two days ago:
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2008
  2. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    Aww, I'm SO sorry. [​IMG] We lost some of our first batch at 4 weeks to a raccoon, and then after shoring up security to make a fortress, I foolishly forgot to close the pen up ONE night, and lost over 20 in that one night, to a fox, at about 6 weeks. It was a hard, expensive lesson.

    Since the chicks weren't eaten, it probably was your dog (or could it possibly have been a neighborhood cat?), but try not to be too hard on her--little chicks are like squeaky toys, and obviously she wasn't bloodthirsty, but probably just playing with them like toys, following her natural instinct. My dogs, every last one of them, wouldn't have stopped with squishing the chicks to death--they'd have eaten them whole.

    Take it as a lesson in the importance of STRONG defense for your chicks against predators, including your dog. Don't beat yourself up over it, but a cardboard box with a screen held down by loose boards and an open garage door...well, as you see now, that's a recipe for disaster. We brood ours in our basement (we don't have a garage) in a much less secure brooder than you had, but that basement door is our primary line of defense.

    If I were you, I'd try again, using what you've learned. I'd probably go ahead and tell the kids everything, because they need to know how very vulnerable their birds are, and how important it is to never leave doors open, and to look for chinks in the armor that a predator could exploit. Since ours got killed, my 5-year-old daughter now asks every night before she goes to bed, "Did you lock the chickens up?"

    When you set up again, it's a good idea to evaluate what the housing situation is going to be when the chicks move out of the brooder. If the dog lives in the yard, where will the chickens live? Will they have to share a space? When not under my direct supervision, I keep my dogs completely separated from the chickens' living space. I hope you won't be too angry with your dog. She was just being a dog, is all. "Birdiness" is bred into her retriever half, after all.

    And not to minimize the pain of your loss, but better that something like this happens with birds you only had for a week, as opposed to having it happen much later on, when the kids are even more attached.

    I'm so sorry you have to go through this, but I hope you don't give up, and come back next time with stauncher security. My thoughts are with you.
  3. Gazinga

    Gazinga Chook Norris

    so so sorry for your loss
  4. rebbetzin

    rebbetzin Songster

    Apr 4, 2008
    Tucson AZ
    I am so sorry!! I know how horrible I felt this year when a baby sparrow I was nursing died, and then something came and ate my hummingbird babies from their nest on the front porch. I can't imagine how awful to have chicks be killed!!

  5. luckitri

    luckitri In the Brooder

    Mar 13, 2008
    I hold each baby on my lap for a long time and make sure that the dogs know this is one of my babies and that I love them. My dogs are getting older now but my alpha female still can catch wild birds every day of the week if she wishes. She respects the chickens. She thinks their poop is like caviar so she licks their butts to encourage more. She also likes to herd them and catch the wild ones for me in her mouth and she does not hurt them at all. All of our critters have come to understand that she will fight for them against any predator on our property.

    I know they say not to handle the babies too much but I think this is worth it to establish their place in your family and heart to your dogs understanding - every dog I have ever had did respect my heart wishes. Plus the babies will bond with you better too. Maybe this is a way of including your dog in the process of rearing the babies and ensuring that he/she has a stake in the outcome - maybe your dog was jealous of the attention the babies got?
  6. i'm so sorry, that's terrible! i'm not sure what you should do about your children, never having had young children myself (only a stepmom). i might be afraid they would become angry at the dog, if they thought she was responsible. Very delicate situation. i'm sure you will find a way to make them understand.

    i hope you won't give up with chickens. They are really wonderful little additions to our lives.

  7. tunaoftheland

    tunaoftheland Songster

    Jun 3, 2008
    I'm so sorry, that is so sad [​IMG]

    I would probably tell the kids before getting new ones, I know when I was little I would often not want to even see another hamster/gerbil/fish for several weeks after mine had passed. When a pigeon I was taking care of got killed while we were out, my parents explained that whatever had killed it was only doing what was natural to it, and didn't know it was my special pigeon. I was still devastated, but in the long run, knowing these things made it easier to deal with. I hope that helps a little.
  8. bangor777

    bangor777 Songster

    May 4, 2008
    oh, I'm so sorry! hugs to you and the kids. Don't give up. owning chickens is such a wonderful thing.
  9. 2manyhats

    2manyhats Songster

    May 18, 2008
    Central NY
    Please don't let this discourage you from starting over. I am so sorry for your loss. My one dog in particular is a chicken predator. She so wants to "play" with them. Don't be mad at the dog (for long), it's natural instinct for them. You could try wiring on a piece of hardware cloth like a cage door on top with bunging cord security straps. Just a thought.
  10. go-veggie

    go-veggie Flew the Coop

    Oh, I am so, so sorry for your loss. I wonder what really happened. [​IMG] I would tell my kids the truth, but blame it on your lack of secure housing and teach the lesson learned in it without putting all the blame on the dog or other animal. It would be sad if the kids took it badly and decided they would hate the dog for it. I know how it feels to put so much hope and love into keeping these babies safe. I am adding a picture of our brooder setup for you so that you can maybe try something similar next time and keep them in your house. I hope your "next time" is very soon. You know, I know someone who told the hatchery she got her 1 week old chicks from how they had all died, and the place felt so sad for her that they sent out a whole new batch immediately so her kids had something to get excited about. Our brooder is a plastic bin from walmart and we use grit paper and cage liners or paper towel on the floor, and we slide it into a wire dog crate that we keep in a spare bedroom. We also hang the 100 watt red heat lamp from the wire cage and it hangs just perfectly down into the plastic bin. (excuse the nesting material-we only use that for the first week from the box they are shipped in for familiarity until they get used to their new house-and now entering day 8 we added a thick twig perch for them to start roosting on-they love it) It's a totally awesome set up and it makes it easy to have them in the house with our cats and dog...and kids. Again, so sorry for you guys and your little birdies, but best wishes for the next time. Take care...[​IMG]

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