Lost two chooks

Discussion in 'Poultry, Domestic Livestock, Pets, & Bees' started by Steve, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    249
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    Sadly i lost two chickens on Monday. One was my little bantam silkie and the other a leghorn x.

    I believe it was a wedge-tailed eagle as my wife did see one rather low during the day. She was so in awe of how big and majestic it looked that she forgot all about our free-ranging chooks. She feels so bad she didn't put two and two together.
    There was no sign of the silkie so i did have some hope she just simply got out of the yard and will show up sometime but 4 days later the window has now closed. The black leghorn was a different story. There was a massive pile of feathers in the far corner of the free range area and only the head left behind. I guess she met her fate there. Poor little souls.

    So I need to figure out a solution and I think getting some overhead netting up might be the solution.
    If anyone has any other ideas I'd be happy to hear them.

    Also, If I was to put overhead netting up, what's some good material to use for the corner posts? I need something fairly high to go right over their house. I don't want to do the sides as i think that will be an over-kill.

    Happy to hear peoples thoughts on this.

    I really didn't know what predators were in my area. A neighbour said their chooks got taken by a fox at night as they forgot to shut them up for the night. It seems there are more threats than I first imagined. I feel I've let them down and my wife hasn't slept well since. Maybe it's my military background that allows me to deal with it a bit better but it's still a real bummer losing those in your care.

    Cheers,
    Steve
     
  2. letsgo

    letsgo Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    686
    Likes Received:
    252
    Location:
    SE Queensland, Australia
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Hi Steve, so sorry for the loss of your chooks, I do appreciate what that is like. Tell your wife this story and hopefully it will make her feel better.

    When we got our chooks we built them a big enclosed dog/fox proof fence. There was an old garden bed in there that we just took the concrete border off and left the rest for the chooks to forage through. We were walking all over it building the pen.

    Day after it was done we went out there and found 2 of our chooks dead. These were specail purebred heritage chooks for my birthday. With the other chooks cowering in the corner of the pen. One of the dead chooks was in the coup the other was in the belly of a python snake.

    We had inadvertently fence the snake in. Under the old garden bed we were walking all over was a python nest with mumma and a couple of babies. We felt so bad really bad. It was accident but we felt terrible. Like you we felt we had let them down. We built this pen to keep them safe but trapped the danger in.

    We got rid of the snake and then built a snake proof fence roof and all to keep the chooks safe.

    Unfortunately what happened was just nature at work same as with the wedged tail eagle taking your chooks. It’s not not nice, nature sucks sometimes.

    When we first bought our place we came across 6 snakes in 6 months. Previous owners were slack at maintenance and there was a lot of leaf litter around the place. We had to do a big clean up. When I first got my dog as a pup I never let her outside for fear of a snake getting her.

    We are aware of snakes here and now I’m sure when you see a wedged tail eagle you will be on alert as well. It can be nice to have chooks free range but sometimes fencing then in an area is to keep them safe as well as our veggies and fruit trees.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  3. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    943
    Likes Received:
    440
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Gee Steve, how awful & sad for all concerned. Poor chooks do cop a rough deal from nature.:(
    I'll bet that eagle flew over at 500ft every day watching you build that hen house & just waiting to see if you would put a roof on the pen.

    What to use as a suitable roof..... well....oh & by the way, you will have to close in the walls/fence too cos that itty bitty bird can swoop under as well!!

    ok, I would use 1cm extruded black plastic bird mesh. Cheap as chips on ebay from an aussie store in Brisbane, postage free & will arrive in a few days or you can pick up.

    Shaun's Store in Kenmore:-
    http://stores.ebay.com.au/STORE-TO-YOUR-DOOR-AUSTRALIA?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

    the extruded black mesh:-
    https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Anti-Bi...-Fruit-Plant-Tree-pond-extruded-/111460061396

    the knitted white mesh:-
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Knitted-...cial-Pest-Net-Plant-Aviary-Tree-/111168033821

    several versions to look at on this page.

    You can buy it by the 5m wide 20-50m long roll.
    Very light to put up but will catch on everything while you are working with it.
    As for posts, 8ft steel posts (also known as star pickets) from the rural store are simplest & easiest. They can be attached to existing fence posts with wire, they don't have to be driven into the ground, just sitting on the ground or on an old roof tile or similar so they don't sink into the ground, pointy end down. That will give you the head height.
    What height is the roof of your hen house?

    I would string 10 or 12 gauge plain wire from the tops of steel posts to the corners of the roof to support the bird mesh or some sort of cord. Be sure to put diagonal stays on each steel post so they don't cant over once the wire is attached to them. Stays can be 5'6" steelies.

    Depending on the span of the whole meshed roof, you might have to join the 5m wide mesh so it is put up first then laced together with something like thin hutchie cord. Of course actual hutchie cord is gross overkill because the bird mesh will disintegrate in around 4yrs but you can reuse the cord with the next batch of bird mesh. Its also handy for patching holes torn by possums, etc.
    That's the down side of that extruded bird mesh, it does tear easily.
    Every animal in the district will want to come to your place to have a party & play trampolines on your new mesh roof!

    The knitted bird mesh is more expensive, a bit heavier to put up but will stand up to some possum play although they do chew through just to get in if they can smell chook food.
    As I mentioned earlier you will need to drop the mesh down to the ground but since it is so cheap & so wide, it should be easy enough to do. Peg it down with tent pegs.
    If you weren't on tuther side of Bris I'd be happy to go help since its a job I've done several times previously. But I'm sure you'll knock it over in an arvo with a few mates.
    All that sort of mesh is best handled by 2 or more people cos it will catch on everything & test your patience to the limit!
    Another tip....clothes pegs make excellent temporary/permanent closures for tears & doors in bird mesh.

    :twothumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
    • Like Like x 1
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  4. Skippyherron

    Skippyherron Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2016
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Moreton Shire, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    How sad Steve! I don't have any solutions but ClissAT has written an awesome response already!
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  5. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    249
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    I've got some netting on the way and I'll use star pickets attached to my corner wooden posts to give some height.
    I'll run some wire around the perimeter and through the centre to attach the netting to.

    I do have a 1.5m fence so there is a small gap (< 1m) where a precision dive bomb might get through. If I have enough netting, which I should, I'll run some around to make it more secure.

    I've since bought 2 more australorps and a little grey silkie. We are back up to 6 chooks with all but the silkie laying.
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,477
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    How did you go @Steve ? I've lost chickens to foxes, dogs, and one I'm pretty sure was bitten by a goanna as she protected her nest (dead). I haven't lost hens to snakes or birds of prey but snakes have taken a few ducks over the years.

    Whenever there's an eagle around all our birds go under cover of bushes or structures - I think it helps against air attack that we have a heavily treed free-ranging area.

    Having said that, I still need to retrofit our pen to stop crows getting to our duck eggs (just another thing I have to complete) I've got several posts in and have purchased the mesh.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    249
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    So I've got the netting up and all looks good at the moment. No more eagles swooping in I hope.

    Unfortunately one of my Australorps just up and died the other week. No idea why but I suspect she never laid in the time I had her so perhaps she wasn't well.
    All the other chooks seem happy......although, none have been laying lately and I'm not sure why.
    I have a couple of theories:
    1. Around the same time as she died i changed their feed from pellets to mash. Both were designed for layers and they seem to eat it ok too. I've since changed them back to pellets but still no eggs!
    2. Too hot. A neighbour believes they might just be getting too hot. Not sure about that because it was pretty hot when they were laying previously.
    3. Too much free-ranging. I read somewhere that if the chooks dont get enough of a varied diet with protein etc then they may go off the lay. My chooks free-range all day so perhaps they are getting heaps of grass but not enough other vitamins. Not sure on that either...
    4. Still in mourning from when the Australorp died. Unlikely I know but I like to think my chooks have feelings.
    5. Some type of illness. Perhaps the chook that died passed some illness to the other chooks. They dont have runny noses and are still happy as far as I can tell. Their combs are not quite as bright as they were which does seem to point towards something not being right but I'm not sure what.
    Happy to hear any thoughts
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,477
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    They might still be traumatised by the attack... This is the most likely scenario. Chickens can go off the lay quite easily and take several weeks to start laying again.

    Definitely not free-ranging - ours free-range all day and lay well.

    It's also common for hens to have a natural break from laying, but usually, it's only a short period (maybe a week).

    I've had hens drop dead suddenly. Sometimes their heart just gives out and it could simply be a genetic abnormality rather than an illness but obviously keep an eye out and if you do see a hen looking sad and not wanting to do normal chooky things then consider placing her in isolation for a period.

    Ref the heat, do they have a shaded area where they can hang out? Maybe check the internal temp of the henhouse to see what it's getting up to and if it's sweltering in there consider a shade cloth sail above it or something. Having said that, I doubt this is the problem though.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  9. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    943
    Likes Received:
    440
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Yes to all Mark said in his post.
    Plus I would add.....
    check the temp in the nest boxes. If its too hot they are prone to putting off laying & could get egg illness.
    As the hen goes through each cycle from beginning of lay to end of lay which generally is around 4wks, the egg comes a little later each day.
    So by half way through the cycle she will be laying in the middle of the day & if the nest is very hot she will either lay elsewhere or try to hold off laying until the nest is cooler.
    That is not a very good thing for the commercial lines because their oviducts are in a constant state of inflammation to begin with & holding onto a egg makes things worse.
    re the hen that died, are the shells of all the laid eggs from all your chooks in good order, Steve?
    if there is any malformation outside of perfect, describe it to me.
    From the first yoke development from the ovary at the head of the oviduct to the first egg laid can take several days. Once they get going it is usually around 2days or for commercial lines as little as 20hrs.
    So if hens have had a big shock they then have to get over it & begin forming yolks again & initially it wont be on a daily basis.
    It can take 1-2wks to ramp up to daily egg production.
    Any other stress factors along the way will slow yolk formation.
    Commercial lines such as ISA's, Hylines, etc require 25% protein to lay constantly.
    This is why some people say too much free range is not good for commercial lines because they don't eat enough of the provided food.
    However if your chooks are now used to feeding from a particular trough or pan in the same place, they should be getting all they need because they will keep returning to feed more as their body demands more protein during the day.
    Then they go off & find a bit of browse & get some exercise.
    Mostly they wont eat the provided food because it tastes like crap & chooks do know the difference! however if you have other critters helping themselves to the chook food, you may not know it is not being eaten by the chooks. You will just know the amount keeps dropping daily so you top up the bin.
    They only way to know for sure whether your chooks are eating their feed is to have the feed in a treadle feeder of some kind to prevent other critter accessing it.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    249
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    Yes they have their house which is more insulated than my house! and a big gum tree that gives nice shade for maybe 2/3rds of the day, and then the house itself gives nice shade for the later part of the day. They also have a run under their house which is in shade pretty much all day and is a nice cool spot as the breeze comes under the house.
    With their house, I used these foam sheets with tin lining on the roof which I stole from a building site rubbish heap. They really keep it cool in there.

    Yes they were all perfect I would say. None ever had any defects.

    I did notice they were laying later in the day so this makes sense.
    Their nest box can get on the warmer side especially later in the day. So that could well be a problem for them.

    I've not seen any evidence of critters eating their feed so I'm pretty sure they are eating it each day.

    I'll give them some more time and see how they go. Really appreciate the advice from you guys, thanks.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,477
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Well, there ya go - I'd rule heat out then and just wait because they'll probably come good. If not, chicken soup, and get some more from a different breeder :p
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. Robyn67

    Robyn67 Active Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2017
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    13
    Climate:
    Cold, Cool, Mountains, or Artic
    I'd also rule out the free ranging, as my australorps just about only free range for food and lay daily.

    My suggestions are: could they be hiding their eggs. I Have one australorp and one isa brown that hide their eggs all the time.

    Another thought is do you know how old they were when you bought them. I had a friend who bought 15 chickens and barely got an egg, turns out they were all old and the guy sold them to her as good layers when he was actually just getting rid of his old chooks.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    249
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    A good point @Robyn67, I did think of that too and do go for the scout around hoping to find the treasure chest of eggs but alas no.

    I'm pretty sure they were young, at least 2 of them were. The other couple I'm not so sure about. The breeder has been selling them at our markets for a while now so I would hope he's fair-dinkum. I do recall him saying, '...these are just starting to lay now so you should be right...'.

    I think I'll play the waiting game for a bit. They might be just having a break over the Christmas period :focus:
     
Loading...

Share This Page