Yesterday a local backyard flock owner contacted me because a “big, grey bird” (probably an osprey or a peregrine falcon) had attacked her flock. Although it didn’t get a chicken, she saw feathers “all over the place.”
Naturally she and the hens were shook up.
When your flock is attacked by a hawk, the first steps you need to take are:
Ensure the safety of your flock. That hawk has just discovered an outdoor buffet. You need to get all of your chickens in a secure location (make sure they have access to food and water) and leave them there for a few days.
If there are feathers, then there might be injuries- typically to the back of the chickens as a result of strong talons trying to grab its prey. You’ll need to carefully inspect each chicken to make sure there are no open wounds. If there are relatively minor wounds a little antibiotic ointment is called for. If there are any deep wounds, then the chicken needs to go into chick ICU (use that dog crate I talk so much about.) Clean and dress the wound. Make sure it is healed before you -introduce the chicken into the flock. (Remember that chickens will peck at anything that’s red, which is why a deep wound needs to be healed before other chickens come near.)
It’s been my experience that chickens suffer a sort of chicken-PTSD after predator attacks. They might seem a little off, confused or extremely timid. Just be aware of this and be prepared if it happens. The best way to treat this is to keep to a schedule, talk to the chickens in your normal voice, and keep them protected. Continue reading
The other day I got an email from a local reporter. She was doing an article about the predator activity in our town, could I send her some comments? I’m also a writer and I’ve done some freelance work for her newspaper. Of course, I’d help her out.
I sent her a few sentences on what had happened with regard to our coyote, fox, and fisher attacks. Gave her some statements on what my concerns were and that I was glad to see the word was getting out to others. We all need to protect our animals and be vigilant was my message.
Next I get another email from the reporter, could she stop over to take some photos of the chickens?
Sure, must be a slow day but come on over. Continue reading
Not much news on the predator front.
We’d had some trail cameras set up but they didn’t show anything other than an opossum walking around our yard (and while very interesting, it wasn’t the result we were looking for.)
If we don’t see any predators then we don’t set the traps. And of course the logical follow-up to that is that if no traps are set, then no predators are caught.
My daughter got a text from our neighbor who reported seeing a fox that had been reported all over our they’re out there.
We are still holding at 15 chickens (Gimpy is doing better each day but she still sleeps separate from the flock, mostly because she can’t yet defend herself from the pecking that has already started.) Continue reading
Last night Marc and I took the kids to dinner. Marc and Griffin wanted sushi so we went to a restaurant (Sushi half price Monday – Tuesday and Wednesday!) a few towns over. We got to the restaurant around 7:00.
A few minutes after we arrived I got a text from Logan. He had finished work, was anyone going to pick him up? I had forgotten that he needed a pickup. Yikes!
Everyone stayed at the table while I left to get Logan and come back.
40 minutes later I returned and the sushi still hadn’t been served although the girls had tucked into their meals. – “We’re going to be here for a long time, aren’t we?” They asked, as they pulled out their phones to start checking texts, tweets, and playing an online stacking game.
Logan and I ordered our meals, the sushi came. More sushi was ordered, by the time we left it was 9:00.
Driving home, I made one of those inane seasonal remarks like “I can’t believe how short the days have become” and then it hit me.
We had left our chickens outside. Granted they were in a penned in area but they were outside. In the dark. In a yard that has been plagued with predators. When we said we were going to go to dinner, it hadn’t occurred to me that we would be returning *3* hours later.
Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Continue reading
With all the heartbreak and devastation to our flock this summer, there is some good news.
Our Barred Rock chicken who was attacked the night we lost 3 other from our hen house is continuing to make significant progress. At first, she couldn’t use her legs and after a careful inspection that showed some scratches on her back, I thought that she might have sustained some spinal damage. She couldn’t move her legs at all.
Things didn’t look good, but because she was eating and popping, (she even laid an egg the day after the attack) I decided to give her a chance.
We constantly checked on her and had to right her when she’d fall over and couldn’t get back up (yes there were many, many references to the TV commercial.)
Day after day, we rolled her back onto her stomach after she had fallen over. She would patiently wait on her side, her head sometimes in the feed bowl, for us to come and pick her up. Several times a day I’d take her out for physical therapy sessions where I’d support her body allowing her to move her legs without weight.
Each day, we’d see a *tiny* bit of improvement. Continue reading
Well you can’t say that I haven’t done my research on our coyote problem.
I spoke to our local animal control officer.
I spoke to a police officer.
I spoke to the people who work at a gun shop.
I went *back* to the police department to ask a few more questions.
I’ve read every comment on the Facebook pages for our town and our police department.
I spoke to a professional trapper.
I spoke to a person at Fish and Game.
In a nutshell this is what I’ve been told (again and again.) The coyote has discovered our flock (end of sentence.) He is not going to be going away. We can’t “scare” him off. we can’t train him to go away. The only solution for this particular predator is to trap and dispose of him. (Relocating is not an option. We’d just be pushing our problem onto someone else.)
The working theory is that there is a den nearby. It’s my (naïve?) hope that if this coyote is caught then other coyotes would then learn to stay away.
Because, trust me, I really don’t like the idea of “dispatching” any animal (you’ve seen the measures I’ve taken to rehab some of my injured chickens.) The trapper told us that we have to be okay with our decision and I said I was okay, but he then said it’s the “after the trap” part that I have to be “really okay” with. Continue reading
We lost another chicken this weekend. Our yard looks like the aftermath of the massacre that it is. In fact, we’ve had to take out our rakes, because there are that many feathers flying across the lawn.
My heart is broken. In the 6 years we’ve had chickens, we have never been hit this hard (we’ve had a few hawk attacks but that was it) and yet in the space of just a few weeks, we’ve been attacked by fishers, coyotes, and fox.
This weekend we tried to be outdoors as much as possible and *still* the coyote came. And then yesterday, *while* Marc was sitting at a porch table, a red fox came into our yard.
It feels like a zombie apocalypse at our house. Honestly, every time I go outside I fear the worst.
Yesterday a neighbor told me that she saw the coyote across the street from her house, it was eating an egg (which means it had been in our yard while we had been outside) and it was limping. Great – a young and foolish coyote pup who is not afraid of humans and who is also injured.
Fantastic. Continue reading
We have been hit hard with predators this summer. Since we started raising chickens 6 years ago, we’ve not seen anything quite like this.
In the early spring we were hit by hawks and falcons. We lost a few birds.
You know about the recent fisher cats attacking at night, (they are the ones who pull the heads off of chickens in the coop.) Fishers are what killed Zelda and the three babies.
Yesterday we heard a chicken being carried off from our property and when Addy and I investigated we saw a young coyote in our neighbor’s yard. The chicken he had taken (and bit into the back of) ended up dying in my arms. There was nothing anyone could have done for her (except stroke her and tell her she was a good girl.)
Then, this morning another neighbor came over to tell me that he had seen a large fox in his yard (2 houses up the street.) Along with that information came another viewing of the coyote who came into our backyard, very close to our house.
It’s been a bad summer for many people. I can’t tell you how many “Missing Cat” posters I’ve seen around our area this year.
It feels like we are all under attack. Continue reading
I don’t even know how to begin this one.
Let me start by saying this has been the most horrible summer we’ve had since we started having chickens 6 years ago. It’s been brutal. I seriously haven’t shed so many tears for our flock as I have in the last few days.
You know that our flock was attacked the other night, all 3 of this year’s chicks were killed and a hen from last year’s chicks was seriously wounded (she’s still alive and being cared for.)
Before that attack, our hen Rudd was almost decapitated by a predator. There is only one animal that attacks its prey by decapitating it, and that’s a fisher.
Which is why I wasn’t sure if a fisher had actually attacked our flock the other night. Sure 3 were dead but there were no visible signs of attack.
But yesterday I finally figured out what was going on. Our neighbor came over and as he stood at our front door he told me that one of our chickens was in his back yard.
I thought it was odd he was telling me this for two reasons: Continue reading
(I guess there was some confusion on my post yesterday, when I called this chicken our lone survivor, I meant she was the lone survivor of the 4 who were attacked. We still have 18 other chickens in our flock, it’s just that most of the young members are now gone.)
As you can see our chicken is still alive but make no mistake, she is still in serious condition. Very serious condition.
Her legs are getting stronger and she can hold the weight of her body up when braced. But if I let go of the support, she topples. I’ve learned to prop her up against a wall of the rabbit hutch at night because when she tips over, she can’t get back up. It’s almost as if all sense of body balance has been taken from her.
There are a few other things going on as well.
Even though I go out several times a day to move her and try and get her to use her feet, she is still sitting – in the same position for long periods of time. Yesterday I heard a little whistle in her breathing (to be fair I did not hear it this morning.) Just like a human patient, you have to move air or it stagnates. And stagnation equals a problem.
She is eating, drinking and still pooping wet waste (which means she’s hydrated) – that’s all good. Continue reading