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.
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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?