Predators, Pests and Broody Hen Fails

Upon studying up before starting anything, I research it to death. The experts say that the biggest predators you will face, will be your own pets. Boy oh boy are they right!

Don’t get me wrong, our dogs do a great job spreading their smell and deterring other predators, but I don’t think we will ever be able to squash their prey drive. Sure we have a lot more acclimating to do, but dogs are dogs and everything likes chicken.

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Our cat is a fantastic mouser. We frequently get “presents” at our doorstep. He would never do anything to a full grown chicken. I know this because he’s been inside the coop and immediately regretted it, trying to get out and whining. But, any chance he can get at baby chick, he will take it. He is vicious.

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Laying in my cabbage patch.

He is one of my biggest pests as well. So many times I’ve chased the cat out of the garden bed, trying to dig in them. He’s ruined quite a few plants. The dogs too, think they own the place and trample my plants all the time. Some training will help with this I’m sure. This whole thing is new to them too, after all.

We do our best to keep the chickens safe and so far we haven’t lost any, but a few have endured a bite on their tail feathers when they managed to escape their enclosure. We acclimate our animals as much as we can. They usually join us on our chores and see us handle them. Maybe in time everyone can just get along and stop laying in my garden.

Now on to my broody fails. Based on behaviors, we had suspicions that our broody hens were no longer broody. So we kicked the broilers they adopted “out of the nest”. One of them protested shortly afterwards, so we put that broiler back and she was happy again. The other seemed content, so we turned her coop, so she could see the others she was next to. Chickens are flock animals and don’t like being alone. She was happy.

The problem we have run into, is long term housing. We don’t want to keep them in the mini coops, because we want them to have more space to stretch their legs. We attempted to integrate one back with the laying flock and it was a major fail. Our rooster saw her as an impostor and chased her everywhere. I can’t get too mad, he’s only doing his job.

So we kept them in the mini coops. Well, we were correct in thinking the brooding instinct was now over, because they both payed today. One of the hens was acting kind of funny afterwards. I watched her and saw she was tearing up grass and throwing it over her shoulder and into her back. So I thought maybe I’d leave the egg in there and see what happens.

I come back an hour later to find that the eggs was gone! I searched and found a trampled shell. She had eaten it. In our experience, when this behavior begins, it doesn’t stop. They pecked the egg and got a reward of the yolk. Chances are she’ll do it again. This makes me so sad.

I’m not completely sure how we will move forward. On one hand, she’s a wonderful mom. This is our second time she has gone broody and the first time she hatched chicks all on her own. On the other hand, she ate the egg and will likely do it again. This means, she may never be a good broody either. I really don’t want to cull her.

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