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Ravnis

About to give up on chickens

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I've been having horrible luck with my chickens.   I started with 10 and am down to a rooster and a hen.  These are black australorps. Seven jumped into my neighbors yard and met their fate with his packs of dogs. 

 

The last two I have found in the yard with their heads missing and entrails hanging out, but no other damage to the body visible.  I am at a loss how to stop this as I not even sure whats doing it. They are in a completely fenced area with 4" square welded wire and no visible sign of anything breaking in the fence or gate.

 

The ducks and geese are untouched as far as I can tell and they have structures they can hide in and an old dog house for a coop.

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Hi Ravnis,

 

The two with their heads missing are likely the victims of a fox.  It may be some other local predator with similar hunting and eating habits (like coyotes, bobcats, etc)……about which I know nothing.

 

While it sounds counter-intuitive, foxes always eat out the crop and the guts…..often leaving what we'd judge to be the best bits behind……and foxes can climb almost as well as cats.

 

Have you considered using chicken tractors?  With those, you can regularly move your chickens onto fresh ground while not having to let them out……and you can lay strips of welded mesh around them to discourage digging predators.

 

 

Gary

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I've considered chicken tractors, but as hot as it gets around here,but  I've been concerned they might get too hot if they could not get to shade from a tree while I was at work.  Not seen or heard much about foxes in my area, but bobcats are common. I may have to see if I can figure out a heat friendly chicken tractor.  Thanks for the idea.

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Hi Ravnis,

 

I may have to see if I can figure out a heat friendly chicken tractor.  Thanks for the idea.

 

 

You can make the head height in a chicken tractor what you want.   The limits to the size of the structure are determined by what you (or a machine) can drag along…..to get it to fresh ground on a regular basis.

 

You may be able to cover the top of the tractor with brush (or create a false ceiling) so that the sun can't beat down on the roof.

 

Gary

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no, they free range full time. only one left is the mean old rooster, guess he;s too mean for the minks to eat.  I'll wait till I get a better hutch for them to get more. The odd thing is the ducks have not been bothered at all, just the chickens.

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Just cover a part of your chicken tractor with shade cloth. It gets hot here, too. As long as they have some shade, water and air flow, they'll be fine. And you can still free range them when you're about to keep an eye on them.  We used to have terrible predator problems, but since we moved, we have no issues at all.  partly because we have fewer trees to hide predators, partly because our guardian donkey is always alert and makes a racket when things are amiss, and partly because we have six dogs who spring into action when the donkey sounds the alarm. So ours are free range all the time again.

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That's great Sam.

 

I couldn't help but chuckle and picture the scene:

 

Something unsavory is afoot - sound the donkey alarm

 

Immediately your alpha dog calls the others to attention - "let's go boys, it's go time."

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Had a problem with chickens coming up dead in my coops on a regular basis. Ducks too, if they were penned at night. It looked like something was killing them for sport and leaving the carcasses uneaten. I assumed it had to be a fox or rogue racoon but there were absolutely no signs of entry.

 

What I've come to learn is that chickens in a coop at night for a predator are like shooting fish in a barrel for us. They have little or no escape. Not that I am a proponent of letting the chickens run loose at night, I set up a trail camera to see what it was.... AN OPOSSUM!! The little bugger could squeeze through the tiniest opening like a rat, go in and have its way.

 

Probably the most humane way to get the critter is with a live trap and relocate it. What I did to the coop was to cover all fencing with chicken wire. I have seen possums roaming around the hen house at night since then but no more intrusions. Live and let live.

 

Good luck

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Hi,

 

I still struggle with the idea of carnivorous possums……given our cute (unless you have them in your roof space) local specimens.

 

While ours don't kill chickens, they can scratch the be-jesus out of you if they choose to resist being cuddled.

 

Gary

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Hi,

 

I still struggle with the idea of carnivorous possums……given our cute (unless you have them in your roof space) local specimens.

 

Gary

 

The ones in the USA are very different from what you have.  While they can be useful scavengers, they are VERY hard on smaller livestock.  Around pigs, cows, horses no problem .... rabbits, chickens, ducks, etc. WATCH OUT!!!

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We had a rough few months back around August, when we had rats getting into our brooder box and killing chicks. Lost over 50 in one night. Got the rats cleared out just in time for the hawks to arrive. They took a few young ducks.  I won't explain how we eliminated that problem, but will say it included 'lead poisoning' and dogs.  Raising any kind of livestock, especially free range like we do, can be stressful at times, that's for sure. Things are running smoothly at the moment. We'll see how the apple cart upsests next month when a batch of chicks and one of quail arrive.

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