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The horrible feeling of accidental deaths. :(

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SilverPhoenix, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

    Dec 15, 2009
    Penn Valley, CA
    I've had quite a number of accidental poultry deaths in the last year or so for whatever reason. Lost a several week old duckling to my own birds, lost two hens to my guinea fowl, had a rooster mutilate a favorite hen of mine (she recovered, only to later be taken by a predator), lost three young birds for reasons I still don't understand at all, and so on. Quite a number of sad incidents. Today I just lost two of my wonderful Icelandic chicks to, of all things, my young seramas because I put them together in a pen outside for the first time. I thought they'd be just fine, but no--my young serama rooster pecked two of them to death. (Note the seramas are about seven weeks and the Icelandics around five weeks? Something like that. It's not as though these were two days old.) I'm just so horrified. When I lose birds unexpectedly and suddenly like this, I always get this awful feeling of both wanting to mourn the losses and just wanting to pretend it didn't happen. Most of all, though, I get this feeling of wishing I could go back and prevent the deaths. Most of the time it's something so simple, it could've been avoided if just one thing was done differently. Of course it's a useless feeling, but I can't help getting it.

    I get very attached to my chickens, and these sorts of things are hard for me. What do you all do to help yourselves feel better after experiencing an accidental loss? Do you push on and shoulder the loss, or let yourself cry it out for a bit? I'm just curious. I just feel so bad and I hate this feeling so much. Losses are always sad of course, but easily preventable ones? They're most definitely the worst.

  2. TeamChaos

    TeamChaos Songster

    Nov 8, 2009
    Oh, I am so very sorry! It is so heartbreaking.

    I know what you mean about feeling conflicted- wanting to cry and fall apart over it (or for me, I usually swear I'm done caring for animals. yeah right) and wanting to pretend it didn't happen. I definitely allow myself some time to be sad over it, but then I have to do something with all that pain and frustration, so I usually throw myself headlong into trying to prevent it from happening again (which is especially maddening when you're not sure what happened in the first place).

    Again, my condolences to you on the losses-
  3. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

    Dec 15, 2009
    Penn Valley, CA
    Quote:I'm glad I'm not the only one that gets that horribly conflicted feeling. That's one of the hardest parts about it for me--not knowing which to do! It's ridiculous but I feel bad either way. If I'm crying my eyes out I feel like I should just suck it up and move on, and if I do just suck it up and not mourn, I feel like I'm being heartless. I know neither is a wrong response but neither feels right either. Drives me nuts! The regret is so useless but I can't help but feel guilty.

    I miss my two adorable babies, I just wish I could have them back. Ugh. I'll get over it, I always do eventually (though when I think of these losses even a long time afterwards I still feel a twinge of sadness) but it'll take me a little bit.

    [​IMG] Thank you for your nice thoughts. It really helps knowing others have felt the same sadness and frustration. This is the downside of keeping chickens... It's 95% fun and wonder and happiness, and 5% total heartbreak.
  4. bigoakhunter

    bigoakhunter Songster

    Jul 29, 2009
    No matter what the age difference, it seems like each time I combine flocks or add a small group to an existing flock there is problems / causulties. I have tried putting a cage inside run for a few days/introducing on roost at night/ putting them together and standing watch most of next 2 days, etc. But even if it goes well, there seems to be a weakest link... and if not right at first within a week or two it gets pecked to death. So I feel your pain, it is always sad. But in the grand scheme of things their must always be a established pecking order.

    I always feel bad when I lose a bird.[​IMG]
  5. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

    Dec 15, 2009
    Penn Valley, CA
    Well, things are even worse now. The little cockerel that did the killing, who I am very attached to, is missing outside in the dark, and it's pouring down rain. I thought he was inside with the rest of the seramas, turns out my mom put him in a pen that's easy to escape from and now he's off who-knows-where. I'm going to be very distraught if I lose him, too--he is very special to me. I'm crying my eyes out right now. I've gone hunting around our acre for him, but I suspect (if nothing killed him already) he's in the thick blackberry bush tangle on our property that is too huge and thick to fully explore, especially because of the thorns. I'm really, really hoping he turns up.

    Man, this is just awful... I feel terrible. I'm hoping so hard it's not too late to save him, otherwise this is going to be even worse than it already is...

  6. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    Quote:I'm so sorry you lost some of your babies! I know what you're talking about with the utterly lost, conflicted feelings. I bought 27 day old chicks from a hatchery this year, 20 egg layers and 7 ornamentals (I call them my eye candy). My Jack Russells got into the garage once and killed a couple of the chicks by jumping into the incubating area and landing on them. I cried for a few minutes and felt bad, but it was an honest accident and the Russells weren't intended to get in the garage.

    The SECOND time my Russells got into the garage was also an accident, but for me twice is not a forgivable lapse, especially if it's MY fault. I ended up losing 4 of 5 Cochins, some EE's and some Barred Rocks. By the time I got the dogs out I was down to about 15 total chicks. I felt like such a murderer! I knelt beside the big tub I use for growing out my chicks and cried and cried for what felt like forever. I tried to hold all of the survivors at once and of course, ended up with chicks all over the garage. I think that's when I quit crying, so I could find the chicks and get them back in the tub before anything else bad happened.

    The chicks are almost full grown now and have joined the other flock in the coop. I don't put mine together so young, I try to wait until at least 12 weeks or more old. During the fall, I put this 2nd batch in a big wire meshed shelter and let the 1st batch free range around and get to know them through the mesh so I had no more casualties when I joined up flocks. They are doing well together and so far, so good, knocking on wood for luck!

    Go ahead and cry if you want to. It won't bring the chickens back but it will give you some release and time to reflect on what did or might have gone wrong and maybe time to think through ways to prevent any more incidents.

    I hope your little roo is ok and finds his way home in the morning. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. tammyd57

    tammyd57 Songster

    It's OKAY to cry your eyes out. Those babies deserved to be cried over, didn't they? Trying to suck it up and act strong can be very bad for you, in several ways. Unshed tears make a person less caring and less caring each time they suck it up and don't cry. Emotions not expressed can harm your health by causing stress and tension, which affects your entire body and mind.
    It is healthy to mourn when we lose something or someone that we care about. Don't let anyone tell you any different.

    [​IMG] Next year is bound to be better.

  8. emvickrey

    emvickrey ChowDown Silkie Farm

    Mar 5, 2009
    Hornbeak, Tennessee
    I know what you mean too. To avoid this problem we just house them in separate cages and when they are introduced they are watched for a few hours to see how they act. If no harm is being done they are left. Most of my casualties are from the quail. Srange little birds they are. For no apparent reason they will go after one another. I am usually checking on everybody many times a day and can get the injured ones out before fatal injuries happen but not always.

    The last one happend when I took most of some white recessive goldens out for processing and left 3 A & M's and 1 golden because I wasn't sure which where which. The same day the golden had attacked the 3 A & M's and was very close to killing one of them. The attacker joined it's buddies at freezer camp and the other 3 are recovering back in their cage. One actually laid an egg today. It's first. I hope I have a trio. Will save me the trouble of having to hatch out more. lol

    I have a Pekin duckling that hatched the same time as some EE chicks and they where all brooder buddies till the duckling grew at an enormous speed and ended up trampling to death 2 of it's buddies. The peki then moved out and into the other side of the grow pen and they all stayed with each other but was divided by a wire wall. The duckling is now in the coop with 2 other ducks I got for it for company.

    The way I integrate chickens is I let them free range together then see if they all go in the same pen at night. When they do then it's usually ok to leave them there. Otherwise they go back in separate pens till it is. I spent 2 years trying to integrate younger chickens with the older ones with no results. Then I started the free ranging method and it works for me and my birds. They either let them join them or they don't. But eventualy they do.
  9. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

    Dec 15, 2009
    Penn Valley, CA
    My serama cockerel has not shown up. I'm so worried... I love this guy so much, I really want him to be okay, but every hour that passes with him nowhere to be seen makes the chances less and less. [​IMG] I'm going to be so, so sad if he's gone for good as well. He was just sleeping under my chin while I was watching movies the other day. [​IMG]
  10. Trishkabob

    Trishkabob Songster

    Oct 30, 2010
    Schuylerville, NY
    Silver Phoenix,
    We have been through this as well (see my post worried about hen being alone under flock management index). We got 4 chicks last April and I fell in love. but as free rangers we were warned and I guess couldn't believe it would happen because we work at home, have a dog, are around, etc. but we lost our Dominique, in the rain, when either a fox or hawk must have gotten her. I cried and cried-she had been on my lap just hours before. we have lost 2 more, not beloved but one in particular who sounds like your guy is to you. I could not believe I could feel such grief but it has been over a month and I still miss her. last week was when we lost our third and I was ready to give up-I felt like I was ignoring common sense and letting them get killed. Every time I think of that hawk getting her I feel sick and wish so much I could have that day back but I also believe ("know") they lived happy lives, digging, eating, hanging with our dog, following us around. when I see chickens who live in their pens, I know they are often safer (though they do hurt each other sometimes as you found out) but they don't look bright and alert in the same way....I am talking about having just a few-not those with many, which is a far more complex arrangement. ours have shiny feathers and are fat and good layers.
    so I have had this internal fight, and several conversations, about the dilemma of responsibility and how this hybrid category has arisen in some cultures/families in which our hens aren't quite like our dogs but not livestock either. the consequence of having the luxury of thinking of our chickens as pets/friends is a mixed blessing.
    We have gotten 3 friends for our lone SLW but it isn't the same, yet anyway...
    I am thinking about you as you wait for yours to either return or have to begin to accept that he is gone. You have all my sympathy...I still feel it keenly.
    I think "we" became so separate from our food for so long in this country that this resurgence of backyard chicken keeping is understandable but without, for me at least, that background in some kind of farming, the introduction to the pains as well as the pleasures is a tough education, indeed.
    my fingers are crossed thAt he will return.....sorry this ran on so....

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