Reminded why I can't let them free range. 1 hen gone.

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by MichiganWoods, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. MichiganWoods

    MichiganWoods DD (Artistic Digital Diva)

    Oct 6, 2008
    West Michigan
    I figured they wanted to get out and explore a bit. I've been letting them out during the day while I'm home for about a week now.

    Today was a good reminder why I originally knew it was a bad idea to do this.

    Got home around 11 from a dentist appointment. Let the chickens out. Go inside to put my hair up in a ponytail because it's mega-windy outside. While I'm in the bathroom, I hear a strange noise. At first I think it's my 4-year-old DD trying to imitate the chickens. When one of my cats suddenly looks alert and bolts for the back door, I realize it's not her and I follow. I get outside and all of the chickens have high-tailed it into the coop... and then I spot the array of feathers blowing all over my backyard. I go in to do a head count. One missing. And then it dawns on me which one it probably was, based on the feather colors. I had one hen that had crooked toes on one of her feet. I had hemmed and hawed over culling her, because I wanted to ensure that deformity never got passed on from her genetics. The bummer is that she was probably the most curious little hen, and followed me around last week while I was cutting all of the weeds and small trees to make room for the garden. I guess my choice has been made for me. When I stepped out of the coop, I spotted the neighbor's hyper-active Siberian Husky in my yard. I call him over and inspect him thoroughly and do not see any blood, or any other indication he might have run off with the bird. I suspect that due to the lack of blood or body, it was a hawk, falcon or some other sort of bird of prey. The dog has refused to leave my yard ever since. I believe he either heard or saw the attack and is trying to protect the rest of my chickens, which are all locked back up in the coop.

    So, as soon as the weather stops being so darned cold and windy/snowy/rainy, I will be majorly expanding my run.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  2. baldie

    baldie Songster

    Sep 25, 2008
    Douglas, MA
    Aw, that stinks! [​IMG] I am sorry for your loss. I have a hawk that hangs around my house also. I found his nest yesterday. These are the stories that bother me. I let my chickens free range too. [​IMG]
  3. BeccaOH

    BeccaOH Morning Gem Farm

    Oct 3, 2008
    east central Ohio
    [​IMG] I feel for you. I get that same itch to let my chickens free range, but I fear hawks and dogs here too. I have coop run expansion plans in the works also.
  4. thechickenchick

    thechickenchick Born city, Living country

    Mar 8, 2008
    Eaton, Colorado
    Oh I'm sorry. [​IMG] I have not found the courage to let mine free range just yet. I figured when it warmed up a bit I would try it though. Now I may have to rethink that idea.
  5. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    Probably not a hawk -- they eat on site, make a big mess, come back for leftovers.....

    Sorry about your loss, though. It's always sad to lose a friend. [​IMG]
  6. briana1975

    briana1975 Songster

    Feb 23, 2009
    Carleton Mi.
    So sad to lose a bird. The wind is really crazy in Michigan right now.
  7. MichiganWoods

    MichiganWoods DD (Artistic Digital Diva)

    Oct 6, 2008
    West Michigan
    Thanks, all. [​IMG]

    baldie, I dunno what I'd do if I found its nest. Probably call animal control and have them take it somewhere else, or at least advise me on what could be done with it.

    BeccaOH, big runs are good. Good luck with your expansion, and hope your chickens stay safe!

    thechickenchick, your area may not be as "chicken hostile" as mine is. We are on 2.5 acres of heavily wooded land with lots of fallen trees and brush all around. Plenty of places for creatures of all shapes and size to hide if they are looking for a chicken dinner.

    CovenantCreek, maybe not a hawk, but some sort of bird of prey. We have a large variety of them around here. Two winters ago I remember walking out onto my driveway when it was covered in snow and finding a small bloody kidney smack dab in the middle of it. No tracks, no other drops of blood... have no idea what kind of creature it came from. The only logical direction it could have been dropped from was up. That's usually the only evidence we find that we've been visited by a BOP.

    briana1975, yeah I was a bit bummed to lose one this way. -- What is up with this crazy wicked wind? 50mph gusts when it's this cold is utterly bone chilling.
  8. frizzylizzy

    frizzylizzy In the Brooder

    Oct 26, 2007
    That is the heartbreak of free ranging. I free range and I can go months without losing a bird, then I'll lose 2 or 3 in a weeks time. And always my favorites. In the last month I've lost a silkie hen (fantastic broody/mom) and a white leghorn (1 of 2 I rescued last year) during the day and when I didn't close the coop door early enough in the evening I lost a brahma hen (one of my sons favorites) and an EE hen (my only blue egg layer). When I let the hens raise their babies, a few always disappear. I figure the hawks are taking the babies, but the bigger ones must be taken by coyotes during the day. When raccoons take them, I can usually find the remains in a nearby tree.
    It's very sad, but my coop is way too small to keep them locked up all the time and I don't have any money to build a run. I wish I did.
    Why do they always seem to get the favorites? Why can't they take one of the many obnoxious roosters? Murphy's Law, I guess.

  9. okiemommy

    okiemommy Mother of 5, Prisoner to None

    May 26, 2008
    If a bird is small enough, a hawk Will carry it off.

    I'm sorry for your loss. I free range my chickens too, and lost one to a hawk several weeks ago. Our roo was near, but didn't get there in time to save her life. Put up an impressive fight with the hawk though. In free ranging,losses will happen at some point in time. It really is only a matter of time. It still sucks though. [​IMG]
  10. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    Dogs don't necessarily bloody themselves up when they attack a chicken. Huskies, especially hyper ones, are not good around chickens. I would suspect the dog. Perhaps the hen escaped and will return. Either way, search the yard. She may be injured and hiding. It's doubtful that a bird of prey would attack with a husky in the yard, let alone be able to carry off the carcass of a full grown hen.

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