It happens even to the best of us…Sometimes backyard chickens die. But usually, it’s not the whole flock. Occasionally, one will get egg-bound or will die from random causes. Some chickens can be victimized by a rogue crow, raven, or hawk. Even worse, raccoons or bobcats can terrorize flocks. Yet I have to admit, it is even worse when the source of the tragedy is closer to home.
This is Barley. She looks sweet, doesn’t she?
But one day when I came home after being out for a few hours, none of our chickens ran to the fence to greet me. Instead, their bodies lie limp in their yard, unmoving. Many of the chickens were missing and I feared that a bobcat had scaled the fence, killed our ladies, and took some away for a snack.
I worried that Barley might have had something to do with it…but hoped that it wasn’t her doing. After all, she didn’t have any blood on her nose, and her yard wasn’t filled with feathers. A little while later, when I let out our old dog, he started nosing around, and that’s when I saw it. A chicken foot, sticking out of some loose soil. After digging around for awhile, I found four more bodies – buried treasure, saved for later.
As angry as I was at Barley, I could only blame myself for the massacre. I had recently let the chickens into a new part of the yard to eat weeds, and it just too tempting for the dog. Instinct kicked in. Barley had pushed her way through two layers of fencing to get to our girls. Since then, we have reinforced all of the fencing and have installed an electric wire as an extra precaution.
The good news is that one of our chickens flew the coop and escaped the mayhem. We have since gotten her some company, and are waiting for our new chicks to arrive in a few weeks.
These are our new ladies. Aster is a Cuckoo Maran and Daisy is an Australorp. We are excited to take advantage of their beautiful eggs in a couple of months. In the meantime, I’d better get used to buying eggs again.
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