Chicken Massacre

Last night something got into the chicken coop and killed all 27 birds.  And left their bodies.  All evidence points to a dog (based on the fur caught on the hole and the bodies being left vs. eaten).

Will had the misfortune of finding the massacre during the morning chores, when I was already off to work.  So yeah, that was a weird phone call.  Then the poor man had to collect the bodies and bury them deep enough in the compost pile so that the offending animal won’t come back tonight for more fun.  Needless to say, he’s had a rough day.  Adding insult to injury, the electric poultry fencing that we were planning to use to start day ranging the chickens arrived this afternoon.

I, on the other hand, am trying to stay calm about the whole thing.  After all, isn’t this part of the whole farming thing (for bounty or for drought)?  Sure, it’s sad they died such a miserable death (at least with the fox who got two ducks a month ago, he presumably ate them, instead of using them as a squeaky toy).  It’s frustrating that we’ll have to start over with another batch of day old chicks, dealing with the heat lamp and the temperature checking.  We’re out the cost of those first birds and the 8 weeks of feed they’ve consumed.  But they were just chickens, not pets.  I think the sense of having failed them is a greater burden than their actual loss.

So now what do we do?  I’ve already ordered new chicks (30 hens, 1 rooster, 1 mystery chick), which arrive next week.  Will is going to dig a trench around the outdoor coop and reinforce everything with hog wire buried at least a foot deep, as the existing chicken wire obviously isn’t cutting it.  We may install a motion sensor light to alert us to predators (as we can’t hear the chickens over the frogs).  We may think about getting a real farm dog, to sleep outside and guard the birds.  We may put the electric fencing around the coop at night.

We’ve been told the dog is likely to come back, which is its own problem, and that we should probably report this to the police (apparently this is illegal and the dog owner is supposed to compensate us for our losses, assuming the dog in question isn’t just a stray), but I haven’t decided about that part yet.  It feels unneighborly.  Has anyone else dealt with this?  Is there an etiquette to the whole “I think your dog mangled my entire chicken flock” conversation?  I’m more likely to swallow to $300 and give it another go.  But we’ll see.  If he’s back lurking around the property again this week, the authorities may be called.

Buff Orpington - 8 weeks

Rocky, the Barred Rock who used to greet us at the gate (8 wks)

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