Dog (and/or Hawk) Attack

It’s been a tough week.

My neighbor, who is very sweet, as well as developmentally challenged, has a habit of coming into my backyard and leaving the gate open.  At least I think it is she who leaves it open... The gate is often mysteriously open after I meticulously close it, and I doubt the chickens know how to open the latch. I know she visits when I'm not home because I've found her there before.

I came home from work yesterday to find two of my hens in the front yard. I led them back to where they should be, and noticed several feathery mounds in the yard. Apparently a dog (Dogs? Dogs and hawks?) killed at least six of my birds, and another four are missing, presumed dead.  Of the six bodies I found, four were cockerels. I imagine they tried to defend the flock from the predators. There was a young hawk patrolling as I searched for missing birds. 

Seventeen out of twenty seven chickens came home to roost last night. 

A while back one of my hens went missing, only to turn up six weeks later, so I have some small hope that at least one bird may be in shock and hiding.

 

It makes me so sad to lose chickens, especially in such stupid, preventable manner. It literally made me sick to my stomach. What’s worst, to me, is that I have named only a small handful of the chickens, and all but one of those with names are dead or missing.

  • My poor baby Trooper, the epileptic chicken, is one of the M.I.A. He and I had the closest bond.
  • Azulita, my beloved broody mom, who hatched more clutches than any other hen, as well as hatching  the very first clutch, was one of the bodies. She was beneath the brooder, which leads me to believe that a dog killed her – a hawk was unlikely to get underneath the brooder where she died.
  • Her eldest surviving daughter, SoLa, is also M.I.A. This one really puzzles me because SoLa was so nervous about predators that she wouldn't leave the coop after her clutchmates were killed by a hawk last November. She was the most wary of all my birds.
  • P-Shell, my beloved head roo survived, but is badly mangled, was full of wild carrot seed burrs and missing all but a few of his tail feathers. I doctored him as best I could, cutting off most of his downy britches which were matted solid with burrs. I accidentally cut a pinfeather, which bled for a while.

Another of the eldest cockerels, one of Goliath’s sons, judging from his size, is also mangled and missing most of his tail feathers. He isn’t in as bad a shape as P-Shell, but he’s now a war vet. His brother seems unscathed.

All of the birds were very jumpy yesterday, and only marginally better today. The slightest unexpected noise or movement literally caused the entire flock to jump and scatter.

 

I hadn't lost any to predators since last November. I can’t get mad at Tammy, because I’m not sure she knows better, but I did chain the gate closed with a carabineer and chain. Tomorrow, I’m getting a combination lock for that gate.