Some sad news, I’m afraid – two of the three chicks that Girlie hatched have disappeared.
We’d left Girlie and the chicks in the main chicken run, since they had a safe indoor area that the rooster can’t get into (the entrance is just small enough that he can’t/won’t go in). Things had been going well, with Girlie taking the chicks out for little walks, showing them how to scratch for food, and clucking at them when they lagged behind.
The other chooks showed no interest in the chicks – one of our main concerns was that they’d attack them. We thought everything was working out great.
Then we came home to discover that two of the three chicks were nowhere to be found, and Girlie was obviously rattled and frantic, guarding the one remaining chick.
I’m pretty sure that it was a crow or raven that got the chicks. It’s too cold for snakes still, and not much else would be able to get into the pen. There’s simply no sign of them – the raider(s) must have carried them off.
So we’ve moved Girlie and the chick to a safe spot, and I’m now working on covering the chook run with bird netting. It’s not going to be easy, since there are trees and shrubs in the run, but I should be able to tie it in around them. At least that will solve the main problem we’ve been having with the chooks – wild birds coming in and eating their food.
Well that sucks Darren.
I am a bit casual with our coop security and I have been warned about pythons being able to take our chooks. However it is much easier not to lock the chooks in at night. That way they can get out and about as soon as it is daybreak. I did have plans to provide a secure sub-enclosure within the free range area, but it has not happened (too many other things to do).
That’s a shame! I think I need to give our dog a bonus.
It was an unfortunate timing thing, too. I didn’t have any chicken arks available because I hadn’t yet had a chance to process the last couple of roosters from our first lot of chicks. I sorted that out today, and now Girlie and the chick are safely settled in.
We’ll probably get a dog soon. I’m hoping it will help deter predators and chase birds out of the fruit trees.
That sucks Darren, we had next doors Jack Russels kill one chook and almost take another (so ‘almost’ that I made her comfortable for her last moments, but surprised the hell out of us when she made a full recovery!)
Birds are a problem I had never considered and makes me uncomfortable to think that our chooks are in an ‘open top’ run.
@Christian: Yeah, it’s frustrating. Glad you didn’t lose the second chook. I didn’t think we had anything to worry about with aerial predators – I haven’t seen eagles or hawks around here. We have had crows/ravens take eggs before, but I didn’t think they’d get a chick. They’ve never bothered the full-grown chooks.
Chicken Keeping Forever
It’s so dissappointing when this happens. Chicks and ducklings are so vulnerable. Last year, a friend had fully grown Indian Runner drakes being taken in the early hours of the morning by crows. We didn’t believe it at first (she has kept poultry for 30 years and not had this problem!) Thankfully we don’t have many snakes in the UK and they don’t bother our poultry but foxes are a constant problem in rural and urban locations and Rats can take our chicks if they aren’t kept under control. I keep all of my broody hens and their chicks in small covered runs now that get moved around to fresh pasture as necessary. I don’t trust the crows…
We live in the Jamberoo region and whilst we have had some problems with both foxes and wild cats taking our free range chooks the worst culprit is a cat bird
I cant find any reference on the web to cat birds being meat eaters but I have one who was killing a hen every four days until we moved them
@Elle: I hadn’t heard of catbirds so I looked them up and found this. They say they only hunt for meat during the breeding season. I haven’t seen or heard them around our place, but I’ll be keeping an eye out from now on!
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