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Ravens and a murderer GSD... (Semi-Graphic Description)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by DavidILoveYou22, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. Hello! I am looking for advice on two issues... the first, and most important, is that for the either third or fourth time, my seven and a half month old German Shepherd puppy has killed/maimed one of my birds. The first time it was a Buff Orp hen that she tore apart (literally, the chickens lungs had been removed from its body) and in the same day--- although she was never found--- a Black Giant hen disappeared into thin air. This was around October-November, not exactly sure. We have speculated that the cause of this behaviour was a bear attack a few weeks earlier, taking just under 3/4 of our 14 birds in two seperate days. We figured that all the blood, fear scent, etc. that was in and around the coop and run could have triggered it.
    Meanwhile, two or three weeks later, my mother looked out the window to see her relentlessly attacking our Pekin drake. He survived, but his air sac was puctured and it cost us $80 in vet bills to stitch him up.
    And now, after a month of vacation in Hawaii, we come home to find that our petsitter, not wanting to ruin our trip, had kept to himself that she had killed my last guinea fowl THREE WEEKS AGO! According to him, she brought him her head and he later found a pile of her feathers near our hen coop. He says that while two of our dogs where accounted for, our third dog and his pitbull most likely participated in the kill, because there was nothing beside the head left and there was no way she ate my guinea all by herself! So now, this mutt has dragged our other dogs into the mess too, in addition to all the bird losses she's caused!

    And despite all this, my parents downright REFUSE to rehome her, despite the fact that we have lost two good laying hens and a dear pet to her!
    So... I need help! I have heard that some people say, "once a dog gets a taste for livestock blood it'll want more" and blah blah blah... I know this is not true in some cases because I have a setter mix that killed our Rock pullet five years ago and hasn't touched a bird since, and I trust her completely around my birds--- but she did nothing more than break that hen's neck... this GSD has TORN APART three birds, or at least two, since we don't know what happened to the Giant... although one can only assume...
    Is there anyone here who knows what type of training she needs? Any suggestions? I am trying my best to keep all five of my remaining hens inside the pen but I am sure one of them will get out someday, and in the meantime I have an order of nineteen day old chicks on the way, due Apr. 1st!!!!!!

    The second issue is far more minor, but still aggravating. For months now, every time I go up to our chicken coop in the morning, always before 10:00 AM, there are anywhere from 2-5 ravens in the pen! They are stealing my chicken food and scaring the chickens; when the ravens are in there they hide, looking absolutely terrified, in the corner! And I've been worried about the ravens spreading disease/mites/whatever among my flock. I have gone on several chases through the forest with my BB gun, but every time the ravens see me coming they recognize the gun (and me) and fly away as fast as possible... I still haven't had any luck hitting them... yet...
    We plan on covering over the roof of our pen with chicken wire, it's already partially done... but in the meantime is there anything I can do? These birds are driving me CRAZY! [​IMG]

  2. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Ravens/crows are very clever birds. Once they find a food source, they will keep returning to it (they'll take your eggs, too - carrying them away and hiding them to eat later). Covering the run is the only way to keep them out. You might run them off, but trust me, they know what you look like, and when you aren't there, they will be. I suppose you might put a tarp over the part of the run that hasn't got wire on it, but if you haven't got a tarp already, a new one might cost more than the chicken wire!

    The dog is trickier. As you have noted, what this dog is doing is different from what happened with the setter. Herding breeds have a pretty well -developed prey drive, and your GSD is acting on it. She is young, so it might be possible to train her out of this, but the first thing you must do is make sure that she is never around the birds unsupervised. She needs obedience training, which will teach her to look to you for instruction rather than acting on her own. She especially needs to understand "leave it." Once the obedience behaviors are pretty firmly established, she can be around the birds while supervised, so that anything beyond casual interest can be stopped before it gets out of hand. This is going to take a lot of somebody's time, and there is no guarantee that the dog will ever be good enough to be trusted alone.

    Good luck!
  3. OK, thank you! I didn't even think about the fact that the ravens could be taking our eggs, but the only chickens we have are four pullets who should have been laying by now, but haven't. The only eggs we seem to get these days are the three or four per week our 5 year-old Plymouth Rock has been laying, I guess the ravens haven't got to those... Ugh, I should have guessed that they were stealing them, my mom works with a wildlife rescue organization and she and I have been to a few classes about them...

    I'll have to get the wire up ASAP. I would have already, but it's a two person job because I have a strand of hotwire running around the fence right where my elbows would be... I stumbled into it once and would not do it again, it has the strength to keep a bear out... [​IMG]

    As for the dog... I have been trying to train her not to look at them or pay any attention to them... it is sort of working... whenever I let out the chickens and care for them in the morning I bring her with me on a leash, and have her lay next to the fence inside the run... It's so hard to make her stay there though, not because she tries to leave but because GSDs are incredibly expressive dogs... she gets this super-depressed look on her face; however, on the good side, yesterday one of my Americana pullets walked right up to her, only a few inches away... she didn't move a muscle. She knew it was there, I could tell because she was looking at me like I was going to get mad at her, but she just looked straight forward, didn't even tilt her ears to listen to it or lift her head off the ground. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I can get her to stop killing them.
    And as for obedience training... that will be interesting. Our other three dogs besides the GSD understand the commands "Sit" and "Catch the treat!" and that's about it... I was fairly young when they were born/bought (one of them is the other two's mom) so I didn't help with the training and my mom had so much on her plate she never got around to it... so seven years later, they are all still untrained and unruly, and the pup has practically been taking lessons from them... [​IMG]
  4. ChicksandWeeds

    ChicksandWeeds Chirping

    Nov 15, 2012
    Northern California
    i had ravens in my run next to the coop ...so 1- i covered it with bird-net and 2 ..i dumped some compost much further away where they could forage...never had a problem since.

    for the dog, that will take a bit more work ... ..,natural dog training has a technique called pushing, that is a really good start. ..i am using it with the aussies here ...but since one of them got a bird, the best i am hoping for is that he will learn to ignore them....but really, basically the birds stay in a very large garden area with a fence around it. http://www.naturaldogblog.com/
  5. ChicksandWeeds

    ChicksandWeeds Chirping

    Nov 15, 2012
    Northern California
    ...eh ..not ravens, they were crows sry
  6. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Some people use remote training collars(electric) so they can give the dog a small zap(from a distance, so she doesn't know you did it) just for looking at the birds. Others like to put the dog in a pen with their most aggressive and huge roosters - sometimes getting mobbed, pecked and flogged is enough to change their mind. You have roosters with a death wish- I imagine to take on a GSD.

    You could put her in an escape proof- roof, top sides, floor pen but she wouldn't be happy & sooner or later she would get out and plunder your flock. Maybe you could persuade your mom to send the dog else where, there are no chickens to tempt her. If someone else had her she might be good for police or obedience or agility work. Obviously she needs something to do that is vigorous enough to wear her out.
  7. ChicksandWeeds

    ChicksandWeeds Chirping

    Nov 15, 2012
    Northern California
    murderer GSD sounds so bad ...she has a high prey drive and i second with was said...she needs something to do with it.

  8. OK... thank you all for your advice on the dog!
    And the ravens are finally gone! I covered the run with chicken wire/black plastic bird netting. It works very well.
  9. Jakoda

    Jakoda Songster

    Apr 12, 2012
    Old Lyme CT
    I have german shepherds and aussies. My aussies would most likely pounce on a chicken given the chance, my gsd is fine with them.

    However, dogs are dogs, and will do what they do...So the way I see it is, you have two choices, predator proof your chicken run and keep them in it, or kennel your dogs. Easy fix.
  10. Well... I have predator proofed my run (I call it Fort Knox- it's 6 ft. chain link all around with cement at the base.) Problem is, I like to free-range my hens but I always have to be up there watching them when I do, and I do not have much time to spare to do that with them... so I can't really free-range them as much as I want to.
    And my mom refuses to kennel her, or put her on a run. although she has been acting better around the hens lately... the other day one of my Americaunas flew up into the air in one of her "crazy fits" when Thora was walking by and she didn't do a thing.

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