Monday, March 31, 2008

More on Keeping Chickens Safe

Wish I had a good answer to this one. Since my last post, we've lost yet another chicken. This time, however, it appears to have been a hawk that found it's way inside the chicken's fenced and bird-netting-covered yard. No digging. Just a hawk and a dead chicken. During the day. I'd seen a hawk flying from their yard to a nearby tree the week before, but it hadn't been inside. And the chicken weighed easily twice what the hawk did. I never thought it would actually attack a full-grown chicken, but it did.

And just last Sunday we almost lost a chicken. At 3 am Eddie and I woke up to hear chickens in an uproar, squawking and generally being not happy. I ran outside quickly and, staying by the back door because it was cold, and I was tired, and I knew Eddie was coming with a shotgun, called to the chickens. I heard something moving and rustling and assume that whatever had been disturbing the chickens ran off.

Eddie arrived with the gun and went to inspect the situation. He came back up to the house to say that no chicken had been killed, but one of them would be embarrassed in the morning. We hadn't closed the doors to the coops, and something that smelled skunky (we assumed it was a skunk) had dug under the chain link fence, reached in the coop, and (fortunately) grabbed tail feathers (and not a neck or she'd be dead for sure). All of them. So this was the poor girl who was trying to regrow her back feathers, and now she has no tail feathers. She just can't win!

After the previous attack, I pulled out some of our old gutter that we were planning to put up on Eddie's workshop and placed it at the base of the fence. Not all of it, but where I though the weaker areas of fencing were. Then I put some bricks or lengths of old lumber in the gutter to hold it down. Not the best solution, but all I could think of at the time.

Obviously, the skunky-smelling character just ignored it and went straight for the gate where there was less in his way. We've been told that red foxes can smell rather skunky, so we're not sure who the predator was this time.