All out of chickens

Well, this has been a miserable week, going out and finding mutilated chickens every morning, and not having my favorite, Beautiful, clucking around under foot. I think the predator was sneaking into the coop while it was open during the day, bedding down under the nest boxes (there’s a hidden area under there) and then coming out at night to terrorize the chickens. It ate one of the little chicks right before we left for Memorial weekend, and left two dead in the coop for me to find. Then it ate the other two while we were gone. Then it seemed to take a break before coming back for the massacre the last few days.

Unfortunately, I am in no position to spend a bunch of money on materials to build a secure chicken coop. I couldn’t continue watching the monster pick the little guys off one by one. So I put out a call for help to the local chicken group, and people swooped in and took the chickens home. One lady took most of them – including the older hens who need a retirement home), a couple others went here and there. All nice homes, and I know the chickens are safe now. Hopefully the predator will move on once it realizes it’s food source is gone.

I’ll miss having chickens, but I wasn’t interested in finding any more of my little feathered buddies torn apart in the coop. After the last kill some of the chickens didn’t even want to go in the coop! But we got them put away and checked every corner with flashlights for any lurking predators, and then left them locked inside the secure coop until they left for their new homes. So that is the end of chickens for now…

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Another one down

I lost another pullet last night from my rapidly dwindling chicken flock. I locked the chickens up last night, and when I let them out this morning there was a bunch of feathers on the floor of the coop, and a depression in the bedding with one wing in it – ugh! One more pullet gone 😦 I don’t know what is going into the coop and eating an entire pullet at a time (they are pretty big), but I don’t want it hanging around and moving on to the dogs and cats. I’m considering getting rid of all the chickens. I don’t want to keep opening the doors to find one more chicken torn to pieces every morning!

Update:

And by evening we were one more down! At sunset the white chicken didn’t want to go into the coop. I got them all in and did a count:

7 chicks
3 buff hens
2 blue/gold hens
1 white hen

I came back later with a flashlight and found the missing chick dead in the coop, pulled back under the shelf behind the nest boxes. Dave helped me check all around and couldn’t find any critters lurking in the coop. We caught the chicks and put them in the big brooder box, since that will be more secure, and closed it all up. We’ll see if anyone else gets eaten before morning.

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Chicken count

Yesterday evening after Beautiful disappeared, one of the young chickens got out of the run area and the dogs chased and cornered it. I rescued it and it looked ok, but it was dead in the coop this morning 😦

I put an ad on CL to sell some of the extra chickens, and sold two adults, one buff and one blue/gold.

update: another lady showed up and bought two blue/gold hens and the baby rooster. Good day for selling chickens!

Current chicken count

9 March pullets
2 Blue/Gold Hens
3 Buff O Hens
1 Splash Hen

I think a coyote ate Beautiful :(

So this year I’ve lost all 8 of the chicks that Mama hen hatched, I think one of the pullets has disappeared, and today I found LOTS of feathers in the orchard, and the only hen we couldn’t account for was Beautiful, who’s usually clucking around under my feet 😦 Not a good year!

As of tonight I have:

11 March chicks (10 girls and a boy)
5 Blue/Gold Hens
4 Buff O Hens
1 Splash Hen

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Chicken update

The little baby chicks I got in March are all grown up – half size, to be exact. Here they are in the back behind two of the full grown chickens.

Here’s a couple of them roosting next to an adult hen. The chicks are very sweet, and I can pick them up without much fuss. They are going to be nice birds. I’m tempted to keep the whole group and have a nice flock of Buff O’s next year for selling hatching eggs out of. Maybe I could put that giant incubator to work.

I finally captured Mama Hen’s babies and put them in the brooder. She had completely abandoned them, and they weren’t even feathered out yet! They were all huddling together out in the yard, getting rained on, and I decided enough was enough! I want to see these little girls (I hope) grow up, I’m particularly curious to see what ‘Speckles’ looks like.

About two weeks ago a friend gave me back a hen I gave her last year as a chick.

The hen is a Splash Orpington. My friend and I bought ten chicks last year to split, and I ended up giving mine to her as well. She raised them, had some trouble with coyotes, gave away the roos, and ended up with just this one splash hen left! Since she was switching her flock over to dark egglayers, she gave this girl to me.

The first day she was here, I got a call from the neighbors asking if I had lost a chicken. ‘Maybe’, I said, ‘what’s it look like’. ‘It’s white’. ‘Yeah, I’ll be right over’. Apparently the other girls had run her off, and she’d gone looking for greener pastures.

This morning I heard the dogs barking, and went out to see what was up, and she had jumped out of the chicken yard again, and apparently the dogs had chased her all over and finally cornered her under a bush. When I got out there Jack was watching, Navi was running in circles, and Barclay was barking at the poor chicken from about 6 inches away trying to get her to run so he could chase her some more! Her tail feathers were scattered all over! While I was rounding up dogs (calmly, and telling them how good they were for not eating her), Navi ran up to her and sniffed at her and ran away again. I was glad to see nobody was actually trying to kill her! Finally I got the dogs put away and got the chicken back in the yard where she belonged. She’s lucky all she lost was her tail! She could have been doggie breakfast!

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Cold rainy spring day – with chickens

We had a beautiful day a couple days ago. We can sit around wistfully remembering the sun and the warmth, because now it’s all grey skies and rainstorms blowing through again! When is spring coming?! I spent a bit of time outside taking pictures of the chickens today, until the rain drove me (and the chickens) back indoors.

My ‘feed store’ chickies are off the heatlamp and have joined the rest of the flock. They can choose between hanging out in the shed or coming out to join the other birds, and they have been getting braver everyday about coming out.

The hens don’t seem to mind them at all, despite the difference in size. I haven’t seen anyone getting bullied.

Such a pretty bunch of birds!
Mama hen takes her six remaining chickies out on adventures in the tall grass of the chicken run.
Life is a big adventure for these guys
Mama points out a piece of squash!
Then she does a little digging…
And the chicks look for any goodies she may have kicked up.
When a breeze picks up and the rain starts sprinkling, Mam hen fluffs up and calls her chicks under her.
Like little kids, they can’t sit still, one pops out, then goes back under…
Then a different one peeks out
I guess it’s kind of crowded with six chicks under there.
When the rain really starts coming down, the whole flock heads for the coop. But hey, what’s that in the middle…
It’s orange, but it’s not a chicken!
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Chicken update

I let Mama Hen take her chickies out into the chicken yard and spend the day showing them how to scratch in the grass, and by the end of the day she was down a chick! No idea what happened to it. So I caught her and put her in a dog crate and moved her and her chicks back into the coop for a while longer.

I also put my two young roosters on CL and within 10 minutes I had someone coming to pick them up – now that’s quick! I figured it was better than feeding them for months and then giving them away! From now on I’m giving roosters away as soon as I am sure they are roosters!

Beautiful, my big friendly Buff hen, has had some feathers out of place for a week or so. I posted a picture of her a couple days ago looking out the coop door, and you can see her feathers on her thighs are fluffier on one side than the other. I picked her up to look at it a few days ago but couldn’t see what was going on – she’s very fluffy. Today I picked her up and just happened to get the right angle, and it looks like a big flap of skin on her side has been peeled back and is just hanging there with the feathers on it! Nothing looks goopy or infected, the exposed muscle looks dry and hard, the flappy skin looks dry, and her attitude seems to be fine, she’s hanging out and eating and acting normal. Will the flappy skin just fall off on it’s own, or do I need to get involved somehow? I asked my chicken friends and they seemed to think that if it didn’t look sore and infected, I should just leave it alone. She doesn’t seem to be suffering, she’s happy as usual, following me around. I hope this all turns out ok, she’s my favorite in the group.

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Chicken update

I took the front off of Mama Hen’s brooder box a couple days ago and let her and her chicks have free range of the shed – it was the only way I could put their water where the chicks could reach it and Mama couldn’t bury it in chips! Today the sun was shining (though it’s still cold) so I opened the door and let her bring them out into the sunshine for a bit. (the pictures are blurry because I was taking them from the deck of the house with my longest telephoto lens, and that STILL made Mama nervous and she decided to take them back inside to get away from my prying eyes)

I also removed the front of the brooder for the older chicks, and let them move around the shed. Of course they have led a sheltered life, so it was all very scary for them! (ignore that poopy water, it gets changed twice a day – messy birds!)

 I let the hens into the shed as well so they could go through to the backyard. They stopped to steal the chicks food and hang out, giving the chicks their first look at what they would grow up to be someday!

Fluffy butt! That’s Beautiful, my super-friendly chicken.
Last week I gave Handsome the Rooster away. Once he had the flock to himself and the other roo was gone, he became very mean to the hens. He would chase them down, corner them, jump on them and rip at their neck feathers. They were all looking frazzled and hiding in the coop to get away from him. I put him on CL for free and he was gone within a day. The girls have been much happier and more relaxed without him around!
 
Enjoying the sunshine in the tall grass

Mama hen decided to move into the main coop area, and took her chicks to dig out a comfy corner.

I think she’ll take care of them just fine.

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Mama hen hatched 8 chicks!

Eight new baby chicks, some yellow, some blue, and one looks kind of gold – how cute! Mama hen is possibly the meanest mama hen I’ve ever met – she growled at me just for daring to LOOK in the brooder box, and when I went to put a waterer in there the chicks could drink out of she puffed up and came after me! I think I’ll let her rejoin the flock, if anyone goes near her chicks she’ll kick their tailfeathers into the next county!

Meanwhile in the other box the chicks are all feathered out and looking pretty good. They are at the scraggly age. There’s also a couple roosters hidden in there.

Can you spot the baby rooster?
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Black rooster is gone – chicks move out to the coop

The black rooster went off to a new home yesterday, where he will have 8 hens all to himself. He should be very happy there!

Have you ever seen chickens so evenly spaced?

The remaining rooster ‘Handsome’ is happy to have his hens all to himself now. No more squabbling with the other roo or ‘sneak attacking’ the poor girls!

Meanwhile, the chicks are a week and a half old, and doubled in size – there’s not enough elbow room in the indoor brooder. Time to move out to the coop. But there’s a broody hen in the brooder box!

So I scraped up enough materials around the house to build them a new brooder box. This one is only 3×3, but it will be fine for a while. I had 20 chicks comfortably in the 4×4 box until they were 8 weeks old. I think 14 should be ok in the 3×3 box until they are close to that, and by then the broody mom and her chicks will have moved outside.

I think it will be nice to have two brooder boxes available for when I have broody hens, or if I decide to get 2 different types of chicks someday.

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