When my wife and I moved to the farm in august 2013, we arrived with 13 hens. The hens were a little over a year and a half old. Those 13 hens were laying around 9 – 10 eggs a day.
With that 9 – 10 eggs a day I tried to estimate how many chickens and eggs my family would need during a long term SHTF situation. In a previous article we got an estimated number of around 75 chickens or so to satisfy our egg and chicken meat production needs.
In the past 3 months something happened that has thrown a serious kink into my chicken flock plans.
Out of the original 13 hens, only 8 remain.
Out of the 24 chicks my wife and I bought in February 2014, only about 12 remain.
In other words, we have lost about 1/2 of our flock in the past few months.
A fox appears
Sunday evening (May 11, 2014) I saw what was getting some of my chickens. On that evening, as is my typical routine, I walked out to the chicken yard to close up the chicken house.
Guess what was standing behind the chicken yard? A large red fox.
Between the fox and the chickens was an 8 foot wide gate that is usually open when the chickens are free ranging, If that gate had been opened like it usually has been, that fox would have had easy access to the chicken yard and my chickens.
I saw the fox and it saw me. I stopped dead in my tracks while it turned tail and ran. I went back to the house and got my trusty Ruger 10/22 rifle. I told my wife there was a fox behind the chicken yard. She grabbed her camera and went with me. As I was easing towards where the fox had ran to, I heard it on the other side of the creek that runs next to the chicken house.
It was too late in the evening to go tracking that fox across to creek. The chickens were closed up in their house safe and sound. The chicken yard was also closed and the chickens will not be allowed to free range until the fox is dealt with.
Here in Texas even though the fox is considered a fur bearing animal, I can still use lethal force to protect my property. I just can not keep any part of the fox, not even the tail.
Chickens and puppies
A couple of days a week the chickens are kept in their yard while the puppies are loose during the day.
The other days the puppies go on their chain during the day, the chickens free range, then the puppies are let off the chain at night when the chickens go up.
This way the puppies and the chickens get equal time roaming free.
The problem, if the dogs are not killing the chickens, something else is.
With the chickens in their yard the dogs are running free and can chase off a fox or coyote.
The puppies I rescued off the side of the road I know for a fact have killed 3 of my chickens. My wife and I saw the puppies playing with the chickens so they were caught red handed. Now that I know for a fact there is a fox in the area and it was spying my chickens, I think it is best to leave the chickens in their yard and let the dogs run free.
When the dogs killed the chickens it was not intentional. It was more like the puppies were playing with the chicken and feathers out. During the process of pulling the feathers, the dogs grabbed too much meat and killed the chicken.
The fox on the other hand, it wants to kill and eat the chickens.
The rooster crows
After my wife and I got moved to the farm, she made it very clear she wanted some Buff Orpington hens and a rooster. Her wish is my command. She got 6 hens and a rooster. Thank goodness the rooster is not one of the chicks that went missing.
Monday morning when I let the chickens out of their house the rooster crowed for the first time. The crow was rough and sounded weak. He will get stronger and louder as time goes on.
I am not looking forward to the crowing, but I am looking forward to having a supply of new chicks every few months.
To go along with the Buff Orpington we also have an Australorp rooster. The Australorp is only about 2 and a 1/2 months old, so it is a lot smaller than the Buff Orpington rooster.