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Posts Tagged ‘predators to chickens’


*sigh*

I know loss is part of farm life, and I accept that.

I also accept that the safety of the animals is my responsibility. And it irritates me to no end to have a loss that could have been prevented.

At this point, we’re up to 4 losses that could have- SHOULD HAVE- been prevented. 😥

Last month, I went to let them out in the morning and found one of my polka-dotted chickens {silver spangled hamburgs} huddled by the door and near frozen solid. It had gotten cold overnight, and while I didn’t think she had gotten her foot stuck under the waterer, I really had no other explanation for her being by the door instead of up on the roost.

I brought her inside right away, and got a water bottle full of hot water to help heat her up.

chicken1

She sat on my lap all day.

chicken2

chicken3

By evening, it was clear she was not doing well, despite out efforts to feed and hydrate her. Early the next morning, with my daughter sitting with her, she convulsed and died. 😥

I am not sure what it was, but it might have been something she ate that got stuck in her crop, even though I couldn’t feel anything there. It didn’t seem to be a contagion, and I was sure hoping it wasn’t. {It wasn’t.}

I accept that sometimes, these things happen. It is absolutely never easy, though.

We also lost 2 cuckoo marans over a month ago. We had moved them outside to the coop, but because the run wasn’t done, we weren’t letting them out. After finding 2 of my girls trampled and plucked inside the coop, we cut the pop door and let them out, finished run be darned.

Did I mention that this has become The Coop That Would Not Be Built? Yep. And it’s a source of irritation to me, to say the least.

That right there is the bulk of the issue, as I see it. Hunny doesn’t think we need a run (or the expense) and once we had to let them out, it was easier to just let them free-range the entire time.

Then the guineas got out about a week ago. 3 were out all night because we couldn’t catch them. 2 found their way back in the following morning, but the last one we found dead on the horse path between the two pastures. Here again, I am convinced that if we had the run, it would not be an issue because they would be contained while we let the chickens out.

It goes without saying that by far one of the worst predators is the family dog. Have I mentioned that we now have 5 dogs?

We moved here with 2 dogs that completely left the chickens alone. We gained another border collie, and then in both July and August we gained dogs that had probably been dumped. That’s a whole ‘nother post for another time. Having 2 unaltered male dogs- even though one is a weiner dog- was not on my agenda.

But I digress.

Up to this point, we’ve done pretty well keeping the dogs away from the chickens. {You know where this is going, don’t you….} Both Buddy (short-haired Jack Russell terrier) and Oreo (border collie) are about a year old. You may know that border collies are well-known as the smartest dog breed there is.

Case and point- Icee (our blond merle border collie} knows how to open the bedroom door in our RV; and Oreo not only knows but has taught Buddy how to open the outside door. We can’t do an eye-hook because then whoever is outside can’t get back in. Not to mention, she’s working on the dead bolt, too. We are trying to remember to take our keys outside with us every time……..

The bigger issue is not that they can open the door when they are both in and outside, but that I don’t want the cats to get out.

Did I mention we’re up to 6 cats now? Yep. One of these days, I’ll write up the story of the kittens, which were not planned but totally loved and adored.

Bottom line- I just don’t want them getting out. The older kitties are declawed because we don’t want them outside. The kittens were planned on being outdoor barn kitties, but after bottle feeding them and having them inside because they are too little to be left outside to fend for themselves, well, we’re smitten with them, too, and will get them declawed and fixed so they can be indoor kitties.

Anyhow.

Last week, Buddy got a hold of my favorite silver silkie, Silver. We got to her in time before he killed her, but he sliced her chest open and punctured her in a few places. I kept her inside overnight, and then the following day (when I had company, of course), I used some EMT gel {for animals} to glue her back together and sent her back out.

You need to understand- I’ve been crazy about keeping the dogs away from the chickens. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve managed. At some point, Oreo got scared of them, but I knew it wouldn’t last, particularly if she was out there with Buddy. I’ve seen them essentially hunt/play together/in a pack.

Now, Hunny and the kids think they are playing with them. Buddy with go after them when there’s squawking- like when the boys are sparring and when they are grabbing the girls. He thinks that she was chasing her and went to nip as border collies do, and got carried away.

I didn’t see this event, so I don’t know what happened. What I do know is that Oreo killed one of my polka-dotted chickens {silver spangled hamburgs} and that I am really very upset.

This dog is smart, and she knows better.

I am loath to give up an animal- any animal- particularly when it’s a rescue and I’ve invested money in it. I cannot, however, abide by the “it’s just a chicken; there’s no reason to get upset” kind of thinking some of my kids are dishing out.

I. DO. NOT. CARE. IF. THEY. THINK. THAT.

IT. IS. NOT.” JUST”. A CHICKEN.

I love my chickens, even if they don’t.

I have a responsibility to keep the animals in my care alive.

And so, I’m annoyed. I’m upset. I’m not sure what should be done.

There are those that tell you that once a dog kills once, they won’t stop. Normal dogs, I would agree. Border collies are so, so smart.

My other border collie blew out both cruciate ligaments in her knees- both of them, at the same time. If you know border collies, you know they have a HUGE work ethic; in that you often don’t know there is anything wrong with them until they just don’t get up the next day.

And that is what happened with her. She just couldn’t get up one morning and was in huge amounts of pain.

The normal fix for this injury is surgery, at $2,500 a knee. 😯 Our vet thought, given how smart she is, that we could try something else first.

He suggested we explain to her what happened and why we had to crate her. If she could stay immobile for about 6 months to give the ligaments time to heal, we could avoid surgery. It was a long shot, but we thought we’d give it a go.

It’s been over 5 years later, and we never had to have surgery. She wasn’t thrilled with being crated, but she accepted it. Her knees are a bit arthritic now, and we think she can’t see too well. She’s been kicked in the head by one of the horses, but the head injury didn’t kill her, either.

She was smart enough to listen {and yes, I’m sure she knew what we were talking about- ask anyone with a border collie and they’ll tell you}. Oreo is just as smart, but she’s only about a year old and very headstrong.

I don’t know if she will WANT to learn.

I don’t know that I can ever trust her again.

I don’t know that the kids will actually LISTEN to me and NOT let her out unsupervised. I am sick of hearing how much they hate the chickens (with the exception of daughter number 2). When they say that, they are basically saying they hate me, and that bothers me. I don’t ask them to love them the same as I do, but gollee, it sure would be nice if they could care about living things a little and have a little regard and respect. And a little thought about keeping them safe.

I need other options.

I just don’t know what they are yet. And, with life in flux right now, I’m not sure the answer is going to be forthcoming, either.

I’m so annoyed. I’m annoyed with the situation, and I’m annoyed because there are no easy answers.

Stay tuned.

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