I lost two chickens a couple of days ago. My wife saw what looked like a coyote running by the fence. The White Leghorns really don’t want to stay in the fence and now I have one less. The Black Java’s also don’t want to stay inside the electric fence and I now have one less of those as well. I need to re-evaluate my electric fence as the chickens do not seem to be wary of it any more. I suspect that now with two lengths of electro-net fencing I don’t think the fence charger is strong enough with the grass it goes through.
For the past week or so when I’ve when out to check on the chicks anywhere between 1 and 5 of them would be running around the dog pen that is their home trying to find a way back in. I couldn’t figure out how they were escaping. around most of the dog pen I have chicken wire 3″ high to keep them from escaping and the last segment is a green plastic with holes in it as you can see below. Today I see 7 chicks roosting on top of this plastic, which means they are easily able to get out through the chain link fence. Time to do some more modifications.
Here is a little video of the brooding area I have setup for the chicks. It is a dog kennel that I have put some metal roofing over the top. As described in an earlier post there is a raident foil lined box that they get under to warn up and when they sleep.
I’m well on my way to raising a second batch of chicks without any supplemental heat. I do provide a huddle that the can get under. This is lined with radiant foil insulation and when they all get together under it they are able to stay warm. However I am not doing this in subzero temperature and there is 37 chicks, enough to keep themselves warm.
They have moved outside at 10 days old into a dog kennel that I have put some metal roofing over. They are scratching away and being chickens. This is inside the electric fence to protect from predators.
Last year I got the numbered leg bands and put them on all my birds. However within a couple of months most of them had come off. Today I noticed the last bird that still had one was walking funny. When I finally cought her (she is a White Leghorn and very fast) I noticed it was down around her foot with the toe that points backwards not in the band. This caused it to cut into her skin. I think I caught it in time but I feel bad that I didn’t notice it sooner. One of the dow sides of letting the flock run through woods/brush is it that it is hard to catch them. I need to do a better job of keeping an eye on the flock.
The post office called and thevhad a package of chicks for me. Belive it or not you can ship live animals via USPS. I set them up in a box in the basement out of any drafts with wood shavings, feeder, water and a huddle lined with radiant foil insulation (more about this later). I haven’t found that I need a heat source, they all huddle up in a corner. Of course I think part of the reason this works is their are 39 chicks to keep each other warm.
After trying for two years I finally got some Black Java chicks. I first ran across an article in Mother Earth News in 2003 and have been keeping them in the back of my mind. However I wasn’t prepared to keep them until about two years ago. They are an endangered breed and are reported to be good dual purpose birds as well as good foragers. I found someone only about 5 miles from me that had got some birds from Garfield Farm and I was able to get 8 birds from her that hatched about the first of July. Sometime in early spring 2015 I hope to start hatching my own Black Java chicks.
The American Livestock Bread Conservancy lists the Java as a threatened breed.
I moved the hens about a month ago and have lost about a dozen. Shortly after moving them I had several hens that would not stay inside the area surrounded by the electric fence. I believe ground based predators got them one by one. For example I found a trail of feathers leading off into the bushes. However the last couple of days I lost some that were inside the fence. Somehow the electric fence got disconnected and there was a hen that had its head ripped off and the body was about 10 feet away. What does that?
Another problem is now that the fenced area has some honeysuckle bushes in it and the hens are no longer going to the coop at night. Two nights ago I found my 3 white leghorns roosting high in a bush and then next day one of them was missing (it’s easy to tell as they are my only white birds). Under the bush they were roosting in there were a lot of white feathers, but I couldn’t find a body. I’m not sure what would have got her from a perch 6′ off the ground inside an electric fence and then carry her away.
I’ve lost about half my flock in the last two months or so. I did get rid of my rooster shortly before this move so maybe he was doing more then I saw to protect the flock.
The chickens still will not spend the night in the coop. I suspect that since they are on a slope now and the coop is at the bottom of the slope most everything is “higher” than the coop, even if they are closer to the ground. Also some of them like to roost on the ground under a thicket of brush video below.
They will be making a fast path across my lawn area to help it out. The area in front of the house my wife wants for law was completely dug up to run the sewer & water lines so it is now basically sand with no organic matter in it. The grass is growing, more or less, but it is thin. Therefore my plan is to move them quickly over the area to improve it with their scratching and droppings. We will see how successful I am.
I did find it is MUCH easier to move the electro-net fencing at dusk when they have started to roost, as long as the area they are roosting wont be outside of the new area. The only problem is you are racing against the dark.
I have found two mulberry trees on the front half of my property. The larger one I found two years ago but lost it last year. I know how can you “loose” a tree. Well I’m not that good at identifying trees from just their leaves and the fruit crop must have been low last summer. However this year you can see all the fruit on the tree from 150′ away, the tree almost has a red haze around it from all the fruit. My plan is to clear out everything around it and put down a thick layer of mulch, that way I know this tree is a “keeper” as I’m clearing the property.
Mulberry trees are a desirable food source from a birds point of view. With mulberries available birds will generally leave other fruit trees alone, or at lease that is what I’ve read. I know the chickens love the dropped fruit and this is one of the reasons I moved the coop to this area so they can clean up all the fruit drop. I’m hoping the tree will develop some lower branches once I start taking care of it.
Jacob Picking Mulberries