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We lost Linda today... Updated... I found her alive!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by whitneywpanetta, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. whitneywpanetta

    whitneywpanetta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm feeling a little bummed out, we lost our beautiful white hen Linda to a hawk today. We are 3 years into our backyard chicken experience, and I love my chickens! I don't mind the chores of cleaning their run, refilling food and water, etc. because they are just such fun animals. However, over the years we have lost 2 chicks, 1 hen to illness, 2 hens to raccoons, and 2 hens to hawks. We do have a rooster, and apparently he isn't doing his job to the fullest extent. We are now down to two hens and a rooster and we are debating whether or not we get more or cut ties.

    We love letting our chickens run around our fenced in backyard, and they love it too. Do we continue keeping chickens but keep them in their run 24/7? Do we keep chickens and accept the fact that we will lose one every once in a awhile? Are my death rate numbers high? I certainly don't feel like the best chicken owner at the moment. What are your experiences or suggestions?

    UPDATE: A couple hours after I found a decent pile of feathers on the ground in my backyard, with a trail of feathers into the neighbors yard (I looked around and couldn't find sign of her) I looked out of my upstairs window and saw my sweet white chicken wandering around my neighbor's yard trying to find a way back in. I can't even believe it! My neighbors two doors down recently got two outdoor cats... Now i'm thinking it was one of the cats... which now introduces a new problem. I think my chickens will be staying in the run unless supervised from now on.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    What breed is your rooster?

    The rooster won't help with raccoons because they come at night when the rooster is blind and can't react.
    For nighttime predators, they all have to be locked up in a building with no opening larger than 1".

    I've lost plenty over the years. Many when I didn't get home by dusk to lock up. Many when I had buildings that were raccoon proof but not mink proof.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  3. whitneywpanetta

    whitneywpanetta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's a bantam silkie rooster. I know he couldn't stop the raccoon, I guess i am just a little bitter about the hawks. We pen them all up at night in their coop. The raccoon incident was 2 years ago and we found where they were getting in and repaired it. So safe at night, just struggling with whether or not to A: keep going with the chickens and B: if we do, do we keep them penned up.
     
  4. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    So sorry about Linda.

    I think losing chicks is normal, as is losing pets to illness. Personally, I would have trouble dealing with having them taken by predators, and I'd do a covered run and keep them in there. If the choice were losing them or having them have a bit less freedom, I'd curtail their freedom. They can still have a good time in a run, you can put lots of foraging toys and treats and build perches and stands and things for them.
     
  5. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry you lost another I would just get more, they are a joy in life just to watch, you could keep them in the run for most of the day and let them out for supervised free ranging.
     
  6. whitneywpanetta

    whitneywpanetta Chillin' With My Peeps

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  7. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    they have also done chicken moats think a chicken run around the garden they can catch the bugs that try to get past
     
  8. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    it like those but a full size run all the way around a garden
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I completely understand your frustration.
    As for rooster protection. A silkie can't defend itself from predators much less protect a flock. They can't fly, nor do they have much field of vision.
    You need something closer to the size of the hawk and that can fly. Also they need a large field of vision and a sharp eye. My roosters can spot a hawk coming long before I can see it.
    If you want protection from daytime predators, you need a real rooster. I recommend a large breed of Mediterranean rooster. They're extremely alert/wary, agile and very protective. I used to lose some to hawks but mostly meat birds. For the last 6 years, I've had one or more Black Penedesenca roosters (like the one in my avatar) running with each of 7 flocks and haven't lost a bird to a hawk since.

    Other good breeds would be Minorca, Spanish, Catalana, etc.. Other people have luck with breeds like RIRs or New Hampshires but I think the Meds are faster and more agile.
    The run for one of my coops is a tunnel I made out of remesh cut into 10 foot lengths with chicken wire on the sides to keep small birds in and covered with shade cloth.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    In trying to make the decision on whether to go the covered run route or continue to exclusively free-range, you need to come to terms with your inevitable elevated, chronic level of anxiety associated with free-ranging and the inevitable occasional loss of your chickens. Is it a trade-off you will be able to live with?

    My flock of 21 all have covered runs, and they are offered daily free-range time. They all flee the run in a burst of joy over the sudden freedom when I open the doors to the runs. This morning the small group of three thugs, who live separately because they're thugs, lasted all of ten minutes and they were back inside the comfort and safety of their run.

    The bulk of the flock has another larger covered run, and they usually last no longer than an hour, and they're all back inside the run, because it's covered and they enjoy not having to keep a constant watch for predators. They all have plenty of space in the runs and lots of perches, one swing, and several flock scratch blocks to keep them busy.

    I can only conclude that my chickens, when offered free-range time, prefer the safety of their runs. Freedom can carry burdens unacceptable to both chickens and their humans and deserves careful thought.
     

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