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The year of all predators ...

Posted 12/12/2013 8:30pm by Renee Savary.

Predators wise this year has been a disaster … It all started with a coyote invasion. For those of you who have never been to the farm, the chickens are roaming freely on 2 different pastures (between 15 to 20 acres each). One fairly close to the main house and the other one about ½ miles away but from the house I still have a clear view of it.

I have a pine forest on the south side and my neighbor horses pasture to the north side and west a 3nd pasture, with a big barn, that was not used and very much overgrown.

At night all the chickens are cooped and the donkeys usually sleep around the coops. Never had an issue at night. The coyotes would just boldly attack during the day time. From the house I could see them crossing the second pasture, grab a chicken and run. It would take them no time and they would vanish into the woods. Once one of them snatch a chicken less than 100 feet from me !!! and the donkeys would be of no use, they usually graze with the sheep during the day.

The solution was not easy to implement, we first had to clean up all the fence line, over the last 5 years I had painstakingly let them overgrow to give small wildlife, birds and other pollinators an habitat, most of it had to go. Then we covered the exiting barbwire with chicken wire, expensive but still the cheapest long term option. We also cleaned up that 3rd pasture and we destroyed one of their habitat behind the barn. 

During that same time I had to deal with a bunch of alligators in the ponds, those were easier to stop as the ducks and the geese would just not get into the water and makes some serious noise until I took care of the problem !!

When I finally thought the situation was under control we started to have every bird of prey, from hawks to turkey vultures, getting at it. My poor chickens would live in fear and hardly get out of their coops. I tried every flying, shinny, noisemaking gimmick I could find !! None of them worked !!! I was really getting desperate. Then two weeks ago I decided to move everybody around the house, it sounds much easier than it is, you have a better chance to herd cats than chickens !!! It means that we had to catch every chicken, load them onto the trailer, move the empty coops and then relocate the chickens !! Two days of work and we are pretty good at it …

Now I have all the chickens around the house, as there is always some kind of commotion the raptors have not been around that much and when we see the chickens running for cover we can spring outside and check it out … much easier to react 10 yards than ½ mile !!!

My girls are back to their happyself and their target now is to get INTO the house !!!

Marmelade with his catch