What is every chicken owner’s worst fear? Dogs. Not just any dogs, but my own dogs killed some of my chickens. Up to this point I had considered myself fairly safe. I didn’t let the dogs into the chicken run, and the chickens were not allowed into the back yard unless the dogs were inside. My dogs, as lovable as they seemed, manages to stress a section of chain link fence and get into the chicken run and kill some chickens. Three of my original reds, one of my silkies, a buff, and a wyandotte cross. Just as a note, I am quite sure that the chickens didn’t suffer as the dogs more or less got them by the necks and shook them. This is something I wish I had not witnessed, but I am glad I reacted when I did as otherwise I would likely not have saved the rest.
Dogs had to go! This being a poor decision in some eyes, the dogs were taken to the local animal shelter for re-homing. Who was to blame? I guess hindsite being what it is, I was. I should have noticed the lower edge of the fence coming loose… but again, the chickens and dogs had interacted through the fence with no other problems until then. So, in one fell swoop, I was down 6 chickens and 2 dogs.
A quick count of the hens and we soon realized we were still missing one of the barred rocks. She showed up the next day with feathers ruffled and missing but none the worse for wear. My flock continued this way for a week and then I found my last red dead under the coop. I was really unsure what caused her death, but it could have been stress or an unseen injury from a dog attack. A few days later I lost another 2 birds in the middle of the afternoon. Based on the damage to the carcasses and what was eaten, I am pretty sure one was killed by a hawk and the other by a predatory mammal, probably a racoon.
With the recent losses, we redoubled our efforts to protect the ladies. We went to Tractor Supply and purchased some electric fencing, mounts, and a solar fence charger. With that installed, we hoped they would be much better protected at night. We also stopped free ranging them for a while to reduce varmint access to them and give us a chance to deal with critters. A few late nights scaring away an abundance of raccons, possums, and the occasional armadillo and we have not experienced or discovered any other animal issues.
Through this experience, and although we did lose several of our flock, we learned from our mistakes. Some folks would have stopped there and sold or given away their flock. We mustered on and still have the rest of those happy, healthy birds.