Sunday, August 7, 2016

Crisis In The Henhouse

My nine little bantam hens were doing well and I was bringing eggs to my neighbors on a regular basis:

They had freedom to roam every day and spent a great deal of time inside the barn. They were especially fond of the hay stored there. I tried to discourage that, but with limited results:

The new baby chicks were growing rapidly. Here they are at nine days old, already getting crowded in their homemade brooder:

But then one day only eight hens returned to the barn. I searched for the missing chicken but found neither hen nor pile of feathers. Then I went out the side door of the barn to search for her and saw three Red Foxes playing in the gravel road:

I used the zoom lens to snap a couple of photos and then began walking down the road toward them, figuring I'd holler at them and scare them. But they disappeared as soon as they saw me in the road:

But when I got to where they'd been, I found white feathers:

And black feathers, but no barred feathers as my hens have:

Back in the barn, I found a nest in the hay right next to where the horses eat their grain. I began to suspect that a fox had entered the barn and snatched a hen right off the nest. There have been many signs that the foxes are boldly coming right into the barn during the day:

Two days later I found these Barred Rock feathers in the lawn between the barn and the house. I guess this was where the unlucky hen became fox food:

So I immediately began locking the chickens inside the barn all day and all night. Furthermore, I secured their door against marauding foxes. I do worry about how I'll prevent this in the future, though. Foxes are beautiful animals but they are murder (literally) to chickens:

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