Two dead hens and I can't get over it- advice?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by suzannaski, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. suzannaski

    suzannaski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 31, 2009
    Berlin
    Hi
    I think I'm in the right section, this didn't seem like a social topic. Feel free to suggest a better section.
    Here's my problem-
    I had four chickens, now three. This is only my second year raising chickens. They were free ranging until Saturday, when the leader chicken disappeared sometime between 6 pm and 8 pm. Then Sunday morning, we saw by the patches of feathers that a predator (we think it was the local golden eagle or a hawk) got her. Then later Sunday, my friend asked me to come over to help her patch up her hen that was bitten by a dog. When I got there, I saw that she was too far gone, with intestines coming out of her vent. Because there were little kids around, we opted to wring the poor hen's neck. Because I had the least emotional attachment to the hen, I was the one to break her neck. I did it just like I had read, and it definitely broke, but she didn't die right away, so I wrung the neck again, but still... so my friend's husband wrung it like the exorcist... and still.....so I just held tightly onto her neck until there was no more pulse. The whole awful event took maybe two minutes, but it felt like forever. She told me I was so calm & strong but inside I was crying like a baby.

    Today another neighbor gave me a RIR rooster, but I'm so shell shocked I don't know if I should let them free range again- is a rooster a good enough protector? Obviously my three horses weren't enough, I don't know if they tried to help her or if they weren't paying attention until it was too late.
    We planted blueberry bushes along the paddock fence where we lost Fifi, thinking this would give a chicken protection as she made her way back to the safety of the barn & horses.

    So how do I get over the accidental death, the horrible experience with the injured hen, and over-sensitivity to the dangers of free range? What are other safety measures I could do for free rangers? Oh, I turned my late horse's stall into an emegency chicken run until I work this out. Forgot to mention that.
     
  2. greathorse

    greathorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is a hard fact of live with birds that are able to be outside, predators just get some of them. No one ever gets used to it or likes it but I think after a few years you become a bit more desensitized. The option of course is to build a pen that is for the most part inpenatrable. I am sure that is misspelled.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Condolences on your loss. Really it's a personal decision whether you feel that, in your particular situation and for you personally, the nice aspects of free-ranging are worth the inevitable risk of sudden death. There is no one right answer, you have to decide what feels right to you.

    As far as your difficulty dispatching your friend's chicken, I wonder if maybe you did *not* do as bad a job as you think -- they just DO flap and jerk around for a while, sometimes a minute or more, but that is not conscious motion, it is reflex (happens just as much, actually more, when the spine or whole neck are severed, so you KNOW it is not being directed by the brain). It is a new experience for some to see, but does not necessarily indicate you did anything wrong.

    Hang in there, it gets better,

    Pat
     
  4. MissJenny

    MissJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm with you -- I am a sensitive soul too -- and very protective. It seems to me that if I do everything I can to do the right things -- provide a protective home, provide clean and safe food and drinking water, stay abreast of diseases and dangers then for the most part bad horrible things won't happen.

    Now, I am in Ohio -- we have hawks, but we don't have any kind of eagles. But there is something you can do regarding the use of deer netting or stringing cds or setting out owl decoys (supposedly the irridescent reflection of the cds causes birds of prey to become disoriented and they miss their mark. It sounds plausible.) Anyway, it seems to me that if you do the best you can then that really is all you can do.

    I am so sorry for your having been involved in helping your friend put down her hen... but how kind of you to be there. Imagine if she had had to experience that alone. Some things are just hard. Clearly you could not have prevented that hen's horrible injuries... but you had the clear head to know what to do.

    Anybody who says it gets easier is either brainless or hard.

    Respectfully, kindly, warmly,
    Jenny
     
  5. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

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    I think its kinda like the quote from 'Steel Magnolias'; would you rather your birds have the chance at a life of 'wonderful' or give them a safe life of nothing special...

    I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm glad that you are still a part of the human race that cares. Thats what you are feeling - care. Thats why you helped cull your neighbors bird, thats why you do what you can to make your birds healthy and safe. Be proud of yourself; you're a good person...
     
  6. greathorse

    greathorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I allow mine to roam outside of a pen as much as I feel is safe. I lose one from time to time and I think it is a good trade off. Birds do like to get out of a run and it is good for them.
     
  7. suzannaski

    suzannaski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Berlin
    Thank you for all your kind words and advice. I've learned a lot today from chickens and a wild turkey.
    First, I think I'm going the "wonderful" route, as noodleroo described. My friend with the injured hen also had a broody, under which we stuck a wild turkey egg that was the sole survivor of a haying accident; that egg hatched today with a perfect little chick (poult?). We had named him Nemo just like the sole surviving egg in the movie. And when you mentioned the "wonderful" thing, it just clicked with the end of Finding Nemo, when Dory says "if you never let anything happen to him, nothing will ever happen to him"
    And then, when I let my flock out for a little supervised carousing, the new rooster just stood in the doorway, afraid to go out, even though the others were blissfully eating bugs and grass. I was so sad for him because he's been living indoors for all of his two years, and didn't know what to think of the outdoors.
    So yes, they will be free ranging again, and we will be building a run for them when we think predators are stalking.

    And thank you Pat for your experience with culling. I'm so hardwired to help save animals instead! (I think most of us here are too) I was convinced our quick & painless method had turned into a strangulation.

    Thank you all for helping pick me up out of my hole. Nemo helped, too. You should see the pics I posted- he's just so cute! https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=361226&p=2
     
  8. jjparke

    jjparke Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Boise
    It's gonna happen. Just when you think you have built a great coop nature will find a weakness in it. Laws of nature. As far as the neck incident- just try to do better next time. I always use a good heavy axe and it works pretty good. Good luck.
     
  9. suzannaski

    suzannaski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Berlin
    Hopefully it will be a long time before there is a next time, and that by then I will be in vet school with access to phenobarb or something.
     
  10. justtoni44

    justtoni44 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2010
    oregon
    I just want you to know it is OK to feel the grief of losing your chicken
    A few months ago I lost some 8 month old pullets to coyotes......I cried for two days..partly
    at the lose, mostly at guilt for not protecting them better..............Not many understood my feelings,
    to them it was just chickens.to me they were friends...........
    I am certain this happened when we were not home.ran to the store or what ever......I do put them in the barn when we leave now.
    It will get better and I am with the line of thought that if there is a choice,they prefer to be out doing their thing.
    You will get over it...................just takes a little time:hugs
     

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