When it comes to chickens, I try to be pro-circle-of-life. This means that if my flock isn’t smart enough to take cover when a hawk is circling or if they are the slowest when a predator approaches, then that will make them the tastiest to Mr Predator. Hey: everything has to eat. If the price we pay for letting our chickens free-range in the sunshine, is the occasional loss by a smug day-hunting carnivore, so be it.
The price that’s been paid lately though, has been a bit too much for our liking. Something has been snatching our chickens: one adult at a time, during the day(they are locked in the coop at night). The only sign that something nefarious happened, a tuft of feathers: no body, no blood, no predator sightings. This did give me the opportunity to take the girls on their first lesson in tracking as we tried to find signs of which way the predator is taking his/her kill…so silver lining-learning opportunity?
That night Hubby and I decided: that’s it! We are leaving the flock locked in their coop ALL day. We left the adolescent chicks with access to the fenced outside run and everyone else: two guineas, to hens, and three hatchlings, were in the actual coop. That was the night before last.
Yesterday for some reason Hubby decided to run home on his lunch break. I then received the call. He did a drive by of the run and saw the bodies of little teenage chickens lying lifeless on the ground. As he went to check the coop, he saw Mr Skunk ambling up the ramp to get into the coop FROM their outdoor enclosure! He had to go so he could dispatch the hostile intruder.
Fast forward to after the skunk-blasting. Our coops STINKS to High Heaven as the skunk was dispatched with a shotgun inside the chicken coop. He(we’ll assume it’s a male because I know more guys who are destructive a-holes than women) killed 14 out of 17 of our teenage chicks in the outdoor run. As far as we can tell he tried to dig out from inside the run, so he either squeezed through the less than one inch gap between cinder blocks(like smaller than a chick can get through) that the building sits on or that he was in the run the night before when we locked up the coop and had a lazy morning of killing chicks before deciding mid-day to amble up into the coop to devour the rest. Either way, he’s gone and we’ve fired up the incubator to try to hatch out some replacements.
Now the big question for us is: was he the killer of the adult chickens? I’m leaning toward probably not, but time will tell. We won’t be letting our chickens out to free range for awhile and there will be some more enforcing of the run in case that was the access point.
If you need me, I’ll be over here lying in the grass in full camo waiting…