One chicken-killer down (the raccoon we trapped last week), but still one to go. After Rocky Raccoon V was sent to raccoon heaven, we lost three more chickens, but all were eaten from the middle. Raccoons typically tear the head off and eat some breast meat, then leave the rest.
Last week we closed the window we accidentally left open – the 4 x 5 inch openings in a gate – so whatever is getting in there now, it’s a small critter. Based on comments from readers and some online research, the best guess is a weasel. I wondered why a weasel would need to eat so many chickens, but then read online that weasels can’t store much body fat and therefore need to eat nearly half their body weight per day. Yup, that would make a critter hungry for a constant supply of chicken dinners.
The most obvious entry point for a small predator was the gap around the door Chareva uses to enter the chicken yard. So on Friday, we closed those gaps with some additional wire. I was of course hoping that did the trick.
Last night one of our Rottweilers jumped the fence (she does that now and then) and ran off barking in the direction of the chicken yards. When she announced her presence at the front door of the house later, she smelled a bit like skunk. Being an incurable optimist, I figured perhaps our predator was a skunk and it had wandered into my newer, bigger trap. Perhaps the dog got too close to the trapped skunk and was hit by a bit of spray.
Wrong again. The dog probably was reacting to a chicken-killer, but there was nothing in the trap this morning, and Chareva found another dead chicken in the coop. When I read online that weasels 1) are small and 2) can release stink bombs that smell like skunk, I became more convinced it’s a weasel that’s still killing our chickens.
So we spent a good part of today turning the chicken yard into a poultry version of Fort Knox. The fencing on the uphill side of the chicken yard came from a big dog pen the previous owner left behind. The gaps are 2 x 4 inches – again, enough to keep out raccoons, but perhaps big enough to let in a weasel. So we had to cover that entire fence with chicken wire. We also went around and attached chicken wire everywhere there was a gap more of more than two inches.
Man, I hope this works. Just a few weeks ago, there were 24 chickens in that flock – and that’s after the older flock disappeared, mind you. Now it’s down to 14. I put my trail camera inside the coop, but I hope all it captures is chickens sleeping peacefully.
If not, I may be sitting in my car out by the coop at night with a .22 rifle on my lap.