Sunday, April 15, 2018

Our Poor Chickens

 The last couple of weeks have been pretty hard for our poor chickens. We started with a flock of 18 layers and are now down to only 5 left. But we think we have everything taken care of now. So far two nights with now more dead so that is promising!

 The saga has been interesting. So we started finding a dead chicken or two in the morning. They weren't eaten but sometimes their heads were off. What was happening? We figured there was some sort of predator and realized we needed to tighten up the coop as the window was having issues. So Aaron tried to patch it up but to no avail - more were dead the next day. So I got a piece of plexi glass and he and I worked together and got it completely patched up. There was now a hole under the coop (where we had buried wire mesh - it must have rusted away). So dad jumped in and helped us to set a trap by the hole. Next morning Aaron ran up to check. What did we find??? A skunk in the trap! Oh no! This guy is still alive, what are we going to do?

  Jonathan went up and shot it from a distance and the boys came running back excitedly saying that it was dead and it hadn't sprayed. Wonderful! Except when we opened the door the whole yard was smelling nasty. Oh dear! Somehow he was smelly anyway.
 Aaron still needed to do chores but it smelled horrible up by the coop. We tried covered his face with a scarf, wearing a dust mask and then we even pulled out the gas mask but all to no avail. It still smelled horrible. He did a very quick (and not very thorough) job of the chores (running to the house for a breath every little bit) and said more could wait until later. I did them later in the afternoon and it still stunk pretty bad but I could survive.

So now we caught the culprit all should be well. Except it wasn't. I do think the skunk had been killing chickens but he wasn't the only one. Another chicken or two was dead the next morning.

    We tried to block them from digging under even more. Dad came and set two more traps. My brother-in-law came and set up his trail cam to keep an eye on the place the skunk had dug through. The next morning there was nothing in the traps, nothing on the trail cam but still another dead chicken!

 Jonathan looked around and tried making digging under even less easy.

The next morning Aaron went up to do chores and there was nothing in the traps but a rabbit was out. He called for help in catching it. Mara and I went up and we got Stumpy caught and I was holding him and then I went over to get something from our garden shed (which is attached to the chicken coop) and Stumpy started to go nuts. So I gave him to Mara to hold and went back to the garden shed. When I opened the door I saw a brown furry animal go scurrying. Then he was no longer in the garden shed but now the chickens were putting up a holler. I ran around to the chicken coop door and threw that open and looked to see a chicken fly up to the window sill and pop out an egg - she was so nervous. Poor girl.

  Meanwhile Mara went running (rabbit in tow) for Jonathan and his gun and Aaron and I kept track of doors and animals. Jonathan came quickly and at that point the animal was in the garden shed and he didn't feel like that was a good place to shoot it (there are tons of things that it can hide behind). But as they messed around in there I shut the door to the chicken coop and then the animal (a mink) went back in there. The boys went over to that door and I blocked up the holes so the mink could not come back in the garden shed. There were a couple of holes behind the feed bins that we had forgotten about. They were quite small but the mink managed to go through anyway.

  The chickens at this point were all up on the roost and Jonathan was able to shoot the mink in the chicken coop. It was quite the wild time.

  So we got more holes blocked off and one more predator killed and I think we are finally good to go. We haven't lost anymore the last few nights.

  By the way, mink smell bad too. Not as bad as a skunk but still bad. Our poor garden shed!

  Have you ever dealt with predators eating/killing your animals? These are the first ones at this place but at our last house we say a hawk, a coyote and a fox all get our chickens.

  Also, this winter we lost our cat to an eagle. That was quite astounding and rather sad.


Sue D said...

Last September a mink got into our chicken coop and wiped us out (we had around 25 chickens). We call the event the Great Labor Day Massacre. It was heartbreaking. We had some eggs but had to stop selling our extras and eventually I had to buy eggs--something I hadn't done for years. Luckily we had hatched out some chicks before this happened and they were safe in our garage. They are now grown (1 rooster and 2 hens) and the 2 hens have started laying. We took some of their eggs and now have 6 baby chicks.
Our neighbor across the street had the same problem and they were the ones that got rid of the mink. This is the first time we had a mink kill our birds. Before we have had trouble with raccoons.

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

Oh no Abbi!! I can only imagine how awful the whole ordeal was!!! It is terrible that the mink and skunk were killing your chickens! So glad that you finally found the murder culprit!!!! We haven't had that problem but I can only imagine how awful it was to see the dead chickens! Hopefully this solves your problems!!! Hugs!!!

Nola said...

Wow! That's crazy. This is one of the reasons I've been hesitant to get any chickens. There is so much wildlife in our yard (we back onto forest even though we live in town on a large lot). Plus we can't shoot anything as we live in town. I hope you don't have any more losses of chickens!!

Abbi said...

Sue, That is horrible. We have had trouble with predators but I have been thankful that we have never lost them all in one night like that. We have never had a raccoon issue yet, hopefully we don't.

Marilyn, I am happy that you haven't had to deal with that in your chicken raising. It isn't very fun.

Nola, I can understand your hesitation. That would be a pain not to be able to shoot anything either.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin