Friday, February 13, 2015

When Predators Strike: Protecting Your Flock (and a Giveaway!)




This past winter over the Holidays we suffered a tragic predator attack on our flock. A new neighbor's dog who lives down the road escaped its pen and while on the loose attacked our chickens, killing half of our flock in a matter of minutes.

what's left of our flock, plus another rooster

Our next door neighbor, thank goodness, was able to catch the dog (a purebred husky) with his belt before more damage was done. We were out of town at the time and had a friend stopping by to check on our chickens.

We had a temporary electric fence/netting enclosing a portion of our yard for the chickens, but apparently that wasn't enough of a deterrent for this dog. What was left of our flock, only three hens and two roosters, were traumatized.  They stayed inside their tiny coop for days without coming out into the pen onto the ground. I was afraid the poor things would starve.



I'll admit I was very angry. Of all the things, it was the irresponsibility of a dog owner that allowed this to happen. It wasn't the first time that dog had gotten loose and I'm not above calling animal control or even shooting an animal to defend my livestock and my family (especially if my girls happened to be outside at the time).

I've worked long and hard to breed this flock of Dominiques, an endangered heritage breed, and to have it all destroyed so quickly is heartbreaking. Now I'm back to square one because of the hens that are left, two of them I wouldn't of wanted to breed anyway due to breed standard defects. None of the hens have started laying again.



The family that owns the dog has offered to compensate us, but I'd rather they take some extra steps in reinforcing their pen so that this does not happen again. One thing that we are looking into is an electronic dog fence or wireless electric dog fence.

We would ask our neighbors to use this equipment on the dog's collar if we see the dog out again so that the dog could be trained to stay off of our property, or, another option might be to get a livestock guard dog of our own and use the invisible fence and collar to train it instead. I like this particular system because the electric fence wires are buried underground, hence no need for actual fencing, and it be installed yourself (saving a lot of money!). They also have wireless options. If you live in an area where dogs tend to be a problem with your chickens but can't afford or don't want perimeter fencing, this may be the answer for you too.


The sponsors of this post have been kind enough to offer a giveaway for readers. To be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, please share on some form of social media your interest or thoughts on this invisible fence product, make sure to like the Restoring the Roost facebook page, then leave a comment here on the blog telling me you've done so. The winner will be randomly selected and announced in my next post. Good luck!

one of the surviving roosters

This spring we will be replenishing our flock with Dominique chicks from a few local breeders and hopefully next spring we can begin breeding our flock again. Do you have any tips of other successful ways to predator-proof your flock?



6 comments:

  1. I’m sorry to read about your flock. It must have been difficult to come home to that. Maybe this post on my blog about dog fencing will make laugh.

    http://oceanstatehome.blogspot.com/2013/04/flashback-our-first-week-you-cant-make.html

    Larry @ http://oceanstatehome.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. So sorry to hear about your flock. It's disappointing to think that you'll have to install your own fence due to the irresponsibility of your neighbours. We had to rehome our chickens before moving to a community where they aren't allowed. I'm currently working on getting the town to amend their bylaws, but in the meantime have been concerned by the frequent uninvited visits of two dogs from a nearby neighbour--a neighbour we get along with great at the moment. I hope that with the arrival of new bloodlines with your ordered chicks, you'll have a quick road to flock recovery and maybe even better characteristics in your breeding program. If you do decide to get a livestock guardian, I hope you post about it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. So sorry to hear that happened. Loose dogs are the worst. Btw, you have a new like on your page.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shared on fb my neighbors have this for two large dogs, works great

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, how awful! Losing some of your flock to a dog would be even worse than losing it to a wild predator, if you ask me, because dogs should be watched over. We have neighbors on both sides of our house with large dogs--a lab and a husky respectively. The husky is almost always penned when outside but the lab runs all over the place. We absolutely love him and love the neighbors who own him and he's a fantastic dog with kids, but I'd never trust him with my chickens. We have a LOT of wild predators in our area too--foxes, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, weasels, snakes, feral cats, even the occasional bear--so our chicken run is like the Fort Knox of the chicken world. Free ranging is just not an option if I want to keep any of my flock alive!

    We predator-proofed by creating a run with chicken wire stapled to the inside of the run woodwork, siting the run over an area of the yard that used to be a gravel drive (we use a composting run system so the chickens love digging up the gravel for grit), using sunken wood beams to anchor the run walls, stretching bird netting over the run, and reinforcing all openings on the coop itself (except the door, which has a two-step latch) with hardware cloth. Like I said, the Fort Knox of the chicken world ;)

    Good luck rebuilding the flock! About half of mine is composed of Dominiques and they are fantastic little birds. I'm tempted to switch over entirely.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is exactly why we don't let our flock free range when we aren't here. We have a neighbor who has an invisible fence for her dog, however, I've seen many a dog go through them and this dog is just obsessed with our property and all he can see going on. I don't trust him one bit. As merrymennonite commented, we too have other wild predators which we also take into consideration. So, during the day, they have 2 outdoor runs to enjoy. And when they get to have full run of the property, well, they are some happy girls. :) So sorry about your loss. Hoping your flock will be safe going forward.

    ReplyDelete