We’ve had two weeks of chicken massacres here at the homestead and we are just not taking it laying down any more. Maggie just finished her shift for a few hours around midnight and after we all were summoned out to the poultry barn on Jessy’s alarm, we finished up securing the area and I offered a round of time as they got some sleep. I was already in bed for a bit until I was awoken to the alarm around one in the morning.
It’s just dreadful. Over the last couple weeks we have had 20 birds killed. TWENTY!!!! The possum we caught was responsible for at least 5 or 6 of them and then in his place, a coon is ravaging the place and has killed the rest. We caught him in the act a couple nights ago, trying to carry off Cruella, one of our hens! Maggie and Jessy went out after hearing the terrible ruckus and spooked the coon and he let her go! She about scared Maggie to death as she dashed out of the tall grass into safety! She was wounded, a big gash on her face and a skin wound under her wing, but after a couple days in the dog crate hospital she is back with her flock.
Last night we came home to find the poultry barn flock all outside in the run yard, huddled in a corner. That old coon had managed to get in there and kill a hen. They were too terrified to go inside and roost. So we spent many hours out there making it super secure and herding them back inside. It was awful, our lovely tame birds were terrified and if we would even touch them to move them into the coop, they squawked and screamed like they were being torn apart.
I don’t blame then, they are frightened.
Two night before when it attacked the chicken tractor in the garden, we ended up moving the remaining twenty one birds to our garage. We couldn’t leave them out in the tractor, and there was no other safe place to park them. They are only day or a week away from processing, and it’s just dreadful to have to see the carnage that the attacks have left. What bothers me the most is that the coon just eats part of them, and leaves the carcass behind. Such a waste of the birds.
We have had lots of suggestions of guns and such, but the biggest problem is that we’ve only seen it once… during the attack on Cruella. We’re sure its a coon, it’s so smart and crafty, and just keeps hitting our flocks, searching out the most clever ways to get in to them. It’s finding all the weakness and flaws of our coops for us, but the cost is high.
Twelve of the deaths were young birds, pullets. Six were the meat birds. And two were grown hens. It seems to have a little harder time with the full grown hens. Our rooster brothers in the poultry barn each have feathers missing and some light wounds on their chests and flanks. I believe they have been trying to protect their ladies. Thank goodness… it’s why I love roosters. But still, they are no match to a strong, big coon with a mission.
Been just wracking my brain and searching wisdom from friends and the internet on how to stop the carnage. We’re going to try trapping him, going to find out about borrowing a trap tomorrow. Like I said, shooting would be an option, but we have only seen him once. We’re about to start setting out a plate of food each night, and see if we can’t lure him to the place over and over and then use that “training” for the trap or something else. That something else might be someone with a little more firepower than a stick and a fishing net. I’ve had a few offers of folks wanting a little target practice and I would like to be able to oblige them.
If I sound a little blood thirsty, I am. It’s personal now. This is not just a pass by grab and dash this is whole out war. I’m tired of the girls and I and the dogs being wakened by the terrified squawks of our bird friends. I very much dislike going out and finding a dead bird and feathers everywhere and our remaining hens terrified to even roost in their coops. I hate that we have to lock everyone up like some high security prison. It’s just wearing thin on us all.
At the very least, we are certainly getting a tough education on just how harsh predators can be on the small homestead flock. A livestock guardian dog is something that we might need. Granted, it would take a while to grow a pup and all, but right now, we’re just doing our best to protect what’s left. We’ve installed more lights, have tighten up all the coops considerably and have a few radios on talk shows keeping the areas under noise. We’ll be retrofitting the chicken tractor to have a wired in bottom. It’s so heavy, you would think it would be too heavy to lift, but it just never occurred to us that they might dig underneath, through the hard soil, to get to their captive lunch, but they did. Or he did.
I’m thinking about how to make a very secure coop in the near future. Something to house our pullets in safely, if we ever have anymore! I’ve got 42 eggs in our homemade incubator… I hope in a couple weeks we have a box of chicks! And once the meat birds are gone to the processor, that will be half of the birds that are luring that varmint into our fold. Any suggestions would be welcome, as this has been a major challenge for us! So heartbreaking, we love all our chickens, we really do. It killed Floppy Chicken and I loved her. She was our only white egg layer and such a sweet character. She was small and scrawny, so I’m sure that didn’t help, but still, it just makes me so sad. And all our sweet little homegrown babies… oh my, it makes me teary to think about the horror they had to go through when this beast was picking them off one at a time in the dark.
Like I said, it’s personal now.Pin It