Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh, unhappy day

Yesterday afternoon, sometime between 3.30pm and 5.30pm we lost all our lovely Ladies to what we assume was an eagle or hawk.

It was pretty gruesome to come home and find bodies and feathers as well as the remains of some bodies around the yard spread over a couple of acres.  The Princess noticed the feathers and one of the bodies first, so both she and Little Man were extremely upset at the find.

It's unlikely to be the dogs as there was no sign of digging or damage to the fences surround the 11x15m chicken yard and the gate to the yard was still locked.  

All Ladies bar one have been accounted for; one was found near a termite mound already covered in meat ants.  There is no way The Groom or I can retrieve her, so it's back to the earth for her.  The rest were burnt, but we have not found a trace of Pamela except for her feathers.  Sadly, it could be possible the dogs ate her.  I'm hoping whatever bird of prey got them has taken her back to it's nest.  One of the Australorps was found out the front with her belly cut open.  

The Groom is pretty sure it would have been an eagle or hawk since they were scattered everywhere and there is no sign of the dogs having gotten into the yard.  And even if they did, they would have killed and eaten them in the yard.  Unless, a bird carried them out of the yard, dropped them and then the dogs finished them off?  That is a possibility but there was no real evidence on the dogs showing this.  One would expect them to be covered in a fair amount of blood and feathers, wouldn't they?

One thing puzzles us, though.  We found what appeared to be four Australorp bodies, yet we only had three.  I didn't look too closely at the bodies to see if one was torn in two, but The Groom was the one who had the job of collecting them and he didn't notice anything amiss.  I wonder if any of the people across the road with chickens are missing any black ones?  Then, it seems odd if they were why it would be carried over to our front paddock.

So, farewell to Coco, Pamela, Schnitzel, Parmy and Nugget.  We shall miss you.  And thank you to Coco (or was it Pamela?) for giving us your first egg on Sunday and your last egg yesterday.



  1. So sorry to hear about your fledgling flock. Our dogs once killed two of our neighbours chickens. We were both at work and came home to find two piles of feathers in our yard. We were puzzled as to how they got the birds, as we have a very high fence around our yard. Too high for the chickens to fly over and too high for the dogs to jump out and then back in with the birds.

    We spoke to our neighbour and she said that she just thought they had gotten out and wandered off. We felt so bad that our dogs had committed such a terrible act. We apoligised profusely and then replaced her two hens with point of lay ones.

    A few weeks later the lady's son was out in the yard playing with the chickens and hubby saw him throwing them up in the air. So we think he may have been doing that and the chickens took flight and ended up in our yard. Not that it mattered, we still felt bad that the dogs had killed them and were more than happy to replace them. It just helped solve the mystery of how they came to be in our yard. (Long way round for a short cut.)

    The point of my long winded story is that all we found were two piles of feathers. The two dogs we owned at the time had devoured the rest of the bird and only left the feathers. With no other evidence on them that they had committed the crime. Sorry sometimes the dogs instincts just kick in. Do you have a problem with feral cats or dogs? They can cause alot of damage to not only wildlife but kept poultry as well. It may not have even been your dogs.

    My thoughts are with you and your family. Hopefully you will be able to move on from this and start over again at some point.

    Regards, Deb

  2. Oh, that's really sad :( So sorry to hear of your loss. x

  3. Thank you, both, for your comments.

    Deb, we do have wandering dogs in our area but our property is fully fenced with dog mesh wire, and we have three dogs of our own, so I doubt it was feral dogs. As for cats, my Rosie HATES cats and a cat would not stand a chance with her around. Nope, I think it was a hawk or eagle and the dogs have got to whoever was dropped.

    I've wandered and searched and checked everywhere along the fence line of their yard and there is no sign whatsoever of digging or climbing dogs, so a bird of prey is the only thing we can come up with. And the only time the dogs were really interested in the chickens was when we were in the chicken yard.

    It was eerie looking out the window yesterday and not seeing them wander around. Even though we'd had them for less than a month I had gotten into a wonderful rhythm of chatting, feeding and pottering around with them. I couldn't bring myself to clean out their house yesterday, other than to throw their nesting material on the floor of the house, and empty out their water hanger. Eventually I'll add the straw to the garden beds and get things prepared for the next group of Ladies. And maybe a rooster! Or guinea fowl.

    Rebecca, thank you, too. I just tell myself it is how these things can go and we just have to learn from them. At least they were thoroughly spoilt chickens while they were with us.


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