Tag Archive for attack

Raptors

As gorgeous as raptors can be, I would appreciate it if the pair of goshawks flying overhead would bugger off. I have one hen held up under the coop who won’t come out. She left a pile of feathers where the hawk almost snagged her. Snow is a five year old Easter Egger and she’s lived through a lot, but I’d feel better if I could check her out. 

On the plus side, the two Roos worked well together to keep the ladies safe. 

And then there were seven…

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Now that our chatter box is gone, the coop’s more silent than normal.

About a week ago now we lost another hen to the fox. I was out at the post office and came back to Louise, one of our oldest pet birds, gone. All that was left behind was a pile of tail and wing feathers. I’m assuming she put up one hell of a fight. Skee – another of our original three – had lost a pigeon’s worth of feathers as well.

When I found Short Beak, our only roo, he was pretty beaten up. There was blood dripping off his wattles and he was missing most of his beard. His saddle feathers were a little thinner, too. He was having a hard time standing on his own. We ended up having to pull him into the rehab clinic (read: dog kennel in basement) so that he could regain his strength. He hasn’t crowed since, though. We don’t know if we’ll keep him or not if he keeps being so quiet.

He really scared us when he didn’t eat, though. He seemed severely depressed on his own. Once we put him back in the coop, he perked up a bit though. Here’s hoping he starts yakking.

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Post-attack.

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What’s left of the Aracuanas.

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Edith and Skee are missing Louise. Neither of them have been super perky.

We’re down to eight.

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This is a photo from the back stairs this morning around 10ish. That blinding light is what I had to fight through to see an unknown critter run off with one our layers. You’ll notice that the coop is closed now. The remaining seven layers and their man are tucked in for the day. They were all dazed enough to let me put them back in.

I wish I could say I knew exactly what took them. I’m not sure. Any time an animal has come on to the property after the chickens the ladies have sounded the alarm when the critter is on the boundaries. Not today. Apparently, when they sounded the alarm whatever it was had sneaked from around the bulkhead (to the right side of this photo) and almost grabbed Beardie (so nicknamed because of her lovely beard). Apparently I scared it when I tried to open the door. Unfortunately I also scared Minski off the stair as well. She took to the air and before I knew what was happening, had been caught and carried down past the coop, out beyond the two smaller willows. I still couldn’t tell what had her. All I could do was watch until it snapped her neck and went off through the woods. I had to watch. I had to make sure whatever it was had been the only attacker.

The “chicks” as we still lovingly call them, had no idea what to do. The rooster was out front with the older girls, from the best I can tell. Our older ladies – who are definitely pets for us – have survived a raccoon chasing them, a dog attacking them in the back yard, and a fox charging over the tracks at them. They knew what to do. I hope these young girls catch on. They stood there and watched with me. They’ll miss Minski…we all will, but there’s a lesson for all of us in this.

Our little flock of layers are staying warm in the coop for today. I gave them all a thorough look over. Beadie’s missing a patch of feathers the size of the bottom of a coffee cup, but is already back to pecking me when I try to grab the eggs, so I think she’ll be fine.

In the three years that we’ve had chickens, this is the third bird we lost. The other two were last fall, and we’re not entirely sure what happened.

While it’s sad to see this happen, and I’m still trying to process it, I know that the first thing that came to mind was this: I cannot stop free ranging our flock. Even if we lost each and everyone this year to an attack, I feel allowing them to explore and get the best out of their lives is by far better than them living in a coop for their entire lives. (As far as runs go, I tend to think they’re more dangerous as the chickens have no where to go if a predator gets in. At least in this case – and in previous cases – they were able to run.)

Now it’s time to think and see if there is anything that we can do to help protect our flock better. A couple options….

1. A dog that barks. (Diamond, who hasn’t even been with us a year, slept through the whole thing. Even though she’s a rescue and we don’t know her past, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts she’s a city dog who’s used to noise and that’s why it didn’t phase her.)

2. A gander. (We can’t trust Diamond out by herself with the chickens even if she did bark. She likes to play with anything that moves and we’re working really hard with her not “death shake” toys.)

Any other ideas, PLEASE add in the comments!

The first attack on the homestead…

Back in November, around the fifth at roughly 11am, I was at the computer working on bills and heard my three free range hens start squawking up a storm. Thankfully my computer is right next to the back door. I opened up the door to yell at them (we’ve had some minor pecking issues), only to realize that one of the neighbor’s dogs were attacking them at the compost pile. I screamed a few obscenities at the dog at the top of my lungs. The dog took up over the hill, but at this point the chickens had all high tailed it into different areas of the property, which is mostly swamp and gulley.

I called the hubby and he rushed home from work. It took close to an hour and a half before all three birds were found. Thankfully, we lucked out and none were hurt. They’re in the coop for the afternoon until I can be outside with them while they’re out as the animal control officer won’t be available to talk to the owners and see if the dog has been located until this evening. She did let us know that neither dog to that address has been registered. So, even through she can’t do a thing about the attack on the birds per say, she can fine them pretty heftily for the lack of registration.

On the plus side, at least we know that all three of them know to high tail it. I’ve heard too many stories of birds that just stand there and get eaten. But on that same note, it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t. I kept an eye out for him to snap a photo of him on our property, but never saw him after that. He’s not normally lose, either. It looks like he snapped out of his collar.

Apparently he was out for about 8 hours lose. The attack happened at 11am, and around 4pm I decided that the girls should come out to stretch their legs and scrounge. I stayed outside pretty much the entire time with them and our border collie (Belle) on her leash as she was freaked out about her chickens going missing earlier (she’s super protective of them). When my hubby went to come down the road on his way back from work, apparently the dog attacked the truck. Belle had been barking and snarling every once and a while, but I figured it was a combination of smelling the dog from earlier and having the crap jumped out of her by a squirrel. Hubby called to let me know that the dog was still loose. Needless to say, Belle and I backed the girls into a corner by the compost bin and I grabbed the nearby pitchfork just in case. Hubby wasn’t able to finish coming down the road until another neighbor (thankfully in a vehicle) was being harassed by the dog. Once hubby got home, he took Belle in and called local dispatch to let animal control know and we got the girls in the coop.

When animal control showed up, he chased her car down the road before going back and sitting on his property. Needless to say, she was planning on having a hell of a talk with the owners. Hubby’s going to call and follow up today, even though normally that’s not the norm around here. We just want to make sure things have been taken care of.

The scary thing is that this is a highly aggressive dog (the animal control lady couldn’t even get out of her blazer to approach him with the pole) who lives at the same residence as a child. It also seems like there are possibly signs of abuse from what the control officer said. I’m nine months pregnant and expecting our first child. I’ll be damned if I’m going to be afraid to walk down my own road. They also have a huskie and the two dogs don’t get along at all, which is why this one was tied up outside for 8+ hours. You better believe any slight infraction will be called in from here on out. We try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I’m done.

I’m so thankful everyone made it through okay! (And that I didn’t go into labor dealing with all of this…)