Something is killing my chickens

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Logman
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Something is killing my chickens

Post by Logman »

Anybody else here keep chickens? I have (had) 40, the majority being Red Star hens. There are 4 roosters now. They free-range when I'm up that field and they have about 1/2 an acre. I let them out and tend to crops in an adjacent field or the big polytunnel. Every now and then I take a head count and a few days ago I counted 27 Red Star hens when there should be 28. I thought maybe one was hiding or I had miscounted. It's not easy to count them when they're moving about.

Today I let them out and was planting some hakusai when I heard a commotion that sounded louder than normal. When I got there I found the chickens either in a corner or back in the run. I decided to take a count and sure enough, now there are only 26.

That half acre is fenced off with netting so nothing can get in from the ground. So if I lost this last one when I heard that commotion it must be an aerial predator. This was at 4pm so I doubt it's an owl. Japan doesn't have many birds of prey right? @Zasso Nouka I seem to remember us talking about hawks and you said there were others about. I'm doubting the standard Black Kite (taka) can take an adult hen. Do you think we have Goshawks or mountain hawks down here in Miyazaki? I read about another hawk called the Japanese Sparrowhawk (tsumi) but don't know if they are here and in the winter.

If I counted correctly the other day it looks like the same hawk came back as it now knows where an easy meal is. I'm pretty gutted and feel guilty that I let my girls down. :(

I need to set up some netting so I'm hoping someone with better Amazon-fu than I can help me find something cheap on Amazon - 200' x 100' but I'll get the tape measure out tomorrow.

Definitely pissed off right now. :mad:

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Logman
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Something is killing my chickens

Post by Logman »

Not sure how to link usernames. I thought @Zasso Nouka would work?

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Something is killing my chickens

Post by Logman »

@Zasso Nouka worked it out. :D

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Something is killing my chickens

Post by gonbechan »

There are a ton of birds of prey ... and they all love chickens.

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Zasso Nouka
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Something is killing my chickens

Post by Zasso Nouka »

As @gonbechan says, here are a lot of birds of prey and every single one of them totally loves chicken and let's face it who doesn't :lol:

Taka (タカ) generally refers to smaller hawks like falcons but can also be a coverall for all hawks. Otaka (オオタカ) are goshawks, sashiba (サシバ) are grey faced buzzards and tobi (トビ) are black kites but they rarely attack chickens. Now is the peak time for attacks on chickens because the young birds that survived the winter but don't yet have a lot of experience are starving hungry and looking for easy prey, easier catches have already been caught and eaten earlier in the winter. More experienced birds will generally avoid hunting around human areas because of the dangers of getting caught but the young birds lack experience to know this or catch wilier prey. Once a bird knows about your chickens it will keep coming back, even if it gets caught in netting and you release far far away, on that note have some very thick leather gloves and some material to throw over it before untangling one from netting. I can't stress how important seriously thick gloves are, an otaka we had one time punched right through my chainsawing gloves, through the flesh between thumb and fingers and out the other side. It was really painful, there was blood everywhere and I had to have a tetanus shot and antibiotics as their talons are sharp and filthy.

If one does get caught in netting throw some material over it and hold it's legs in one hand while untangling it with your other hand. They will remain remarkably peaceful when covered and with you holding their legs but be really careful as their bones are incredibly light so don't put too much pressure. Once untangled they will remain fairly peaceful if you hold both of their legs and up close they are incredibly beautiful birds. It's not their fault they are eating your chickens, as far as they are concerned you set the table out for them and extended the invitation with freely available food. If you have a rescue centre nearby or licensed falconer contact them to take the bird and give it a medical check in case it was injured in your netting. They can keep it for a few days so it forgets about your place and release it a long way away.

To protect your chickens you'll need to net the entire area they are running around in, if that isn't practical you'll have to confine them within a smaller area till spring properly gets under way and the young hawks resume hunting their normal prey. We use the netting for climbing beans and peas mixed in with the 5mm reflective "tape" (red on one side and silver on the other), leave it somewhat loose so it can futter in the wind and be clearly visible.
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Logman
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Something is killing my chickens

Post by Logman »

Thanks for the replies. I'll have to look around for the cheapest way to net such a large area.

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Something is killing my chickens

Post by Zasso Nouka »

I've been not exactly training crows but encouraging them to hang out more around our chickens area by feeding them. When they see me coming now they fly down and wait for some food, crows seem to dislike most birds of prey because they can attack young crows. You could try something like that and so far they haven't tried attacking the chickens when they are out of their enclosure.

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gonbechan
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Post by gonbechan »

I second the befriend a crow project.
It is pretty easy to do and if you make a wooden platform for them to feed on and feed them once a day.
They love anything to eat really but particularly like kibble type dog (or cat) food or unshelled peanuts, which ends up making less mess than you putting out food leftovers.You can also ethically use the cheapest dog or cat food you can buy. Also be sure to grab any samples being given away anywhere... lol.
(Dog/cat food,peanuts, some cut fruit like oranges etc that you can jab onto a strong fixed wooden skewer thing. sunflower seeds, boiled eggs (peeled and cut in halfish) boiled beans or peas etc leftover rice .. and of course house scraps, but keep the area clean. )

If you do this on a regular schedule (either early morning or late afternoon), the crows will befriend you and not eat your farm stuff as much. Feeding them on a platform is safer for them and also keeps the tanuki and racoons (if you have any in your area) down on the ground only for the spillover.
You want to be regular so food isnt laying around.... or you will attract foxes, martens and weasels as they will also go after your chickens...

It needs to be a social thing.. build the platform in an open space that has safe approach from all sides, 1.2~ 1.5m ish is good so you can reach and put stuff there...and clean of course. A shallow watersource like a birdbath is also excellent... (bees will like this too).

Once your platform is built just put a little bit of food like half an orange or apple on a spike.. and a very small amount of dry dog food or peanuts or sunflower seeds. If possible, do it when crows are watching, then walk away.
repeat this every day at the same time, even if there are leftovers.. clean up the old stuff add a little bit of new stuff.

I reckon you will have friends way sooner than you expect, and if you have children of a responsible age, you could make it their project to befriend the crows.

Crows become friends/enemies for life so if you get it right, they will watch out for snakes, itachi and hakubishin, birds of prey etc and make a great big noise to let you know what is going on. The also will go after the birds of prey, especially when they have young ones of their own to protect. They also kill and eat snakes.

You are, of course, obligated to document your journey .. and share it with us with pictures, stories and even videos (youtube here you come? lol)
I love crows.

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Logman
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Something is killing my chickens

Post by Logman »

That sounds like a good idea. I'm thinking I can net half the area and put up a couple of bird tables in the other half. Already have a simple plan in my head how to make them (out of a post, plywood and a few pieces of wood).

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Something is killing my chickens

Post by DocDoesFarming »

I write a load of bollocks, don't take me seriously.