"My hens got eaten by __________"

Here is my hen dust bathing next to barn. I am always with them when the are out of their coop.

I have heard one to many times these last few weeks about people losing hens to neighborhood dogs or other predators. Now I understand no one intends for this to happen, in fact most people are taking very good care of their hens. But your number one priority is to keep your hens healthy and safe. "Free Range" backyard hens are NOT safe if you just let them roam about with no protection. Actually your neighbors dog can't help himself! It is your responsibility to keep your coop predator safe and your hens/roosters safe.

One person said to me "we lost several last week to a neighbor's dog" he frowned. I asked "what did you change to prevent this from happening again?" No response. A few minutes later "our hens are outside roaming in our backyard for bugs and grass right now" he said as if he were doing them a favor. "But you aren't there to protect them" I gently said. No response. I hope they are all safe. Honestly I'm sure he is doing what he thinks is right. I respect that, and obviously just being with your hens doesn't gaurentee that they will be safe. I just ask, make the effort.

I had someone else say "How do you keep the predators out of your coop?", well I have chain link fence that goes about 20 inches into the ground with big telephone pole type things where the fence meets the ground, the coop also has a tin roof so no hawks can get in and I never leave them alone outside in the field unless I am there, or the farmer I work with is there with her dogs. I never leave them alone. They are too vulnerable.

I don't want to make anyone feel bad. Would you ever put other animals you cared about in the same pasture as the animal above it on the food chain? I know that even my method doesn't mean my hens will be 100 percent safe. Just think about it.

Please, take care of your animals. Protect them. Keep them healthy and happy otherwise honestly you are simply feeding them to other animals. Keep your hens safe.


Pam Genant said...

Just from personal experience, being out there with your hens does not mean they are neighborhood dog proof. It does keep other animals away but not the dogs, grrrr. We are still trying to perfect our predator defense, dogs are really smart critters.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I have two Labrador retrievers that I play with in the yard while my hens free range and we have no problems. My main issue is, however, around this time of year I have to be out there with them constantly. Otherwise, the local foxes come into the yard and do their damage.

Luckily, we don't have any neighborhood dogs to worry about. I love the Spring, but from now until late Summer, my hens get very limited free ranging time. Really sucks. During latter summer and all of Fall, my hens free range a lot more since the fox daytime activity comes to almost a complete halt. Then, I am out there with them for most of time, and otherwise I watch from nearby in the house and am able to run out there in case one of them starts up with a warning call.

Dawn Jones, Spinner Extraordonaire said...

This happened to us. It was the neighbor dog digging under the fence. The neighbors who owned the dog said it was our fault for making the dogs want to visit our yard because the chickens were "free range."

The first time this happened they said they would take care of the problem. I happen to work with the mother of my neighbor, so I believed him.

Well,it happened a second time. This time I involved animal control. The neighbors stated they have now buried railroad ties under ground next to the fence to discourage digging. I also took precautions and purchased a large dog run and placed it along one side of the cage. I don't feel that I should have had to purchase the dog run at my expense and penalize the chickens, but I also know that others are not responsible for his or her pet animals. I also needed to protect my hens. They are "modified free range now." A safe hen is a happy hen. Thank you for discussing the predator issue.