This winter has been a tough one for the chickens.
When we planned the chicken coop we tried to think of every way possible to protect our bird during the night from predators, knowing that there would be plenty out here. We hoped that we had given them enough protection from hawks and eagles during they day, by giving them places to hide, and for the first several months things worked really well.
Then things started to go down hill, quickly. The chickens figured out how to get into the dog kennel, which didn’t end well for the chicken and eventually for the dog. Then we started to lose chickens at dusk, that time between when the chickens started to gather toward the coop to roost and we went out to shut their little door.
After a couple chicken kills, we happened to hear the ladies going crazy one night, as we rushed out a big barn owl flew out from under the coop where it had cornered one of the gals and had attacked. It was interesting to see the roosters try to defend the hen, they were super hero roosters.
Sadly the chicken didn’t make it.
We really want to allow the chickens to free range, to produce the healthiest eggs possible, but how do we do that and fully protect our birds? Fully enclosing the chicken yard would work, but then we might as well just get rid of the chicken and buy organic eggs, it would be less money and less hassle.
Dadzoo installed predator lights,
and they seemed to work…
Until New Years Eve.
I stepped out on the back porch for something and I heard the chickens, once again, going crazy in their coop. I yelled to Dadzoo as I ran out there, with a broom in hand, he followed quickly behind. Dadzoo burst into the coop, the chickens were all scrambling into the nest boxes, the roosters were on attack as a big barn owl sat right in the middle of the floor, when it saw Dadzoo he flew up on the wall, clinging to the side with its huge talons and rotated its head to look right at Dadzoo. They were about 18 inches from each other, face to face, at eye level. The owl had flow onto the ramp and walked into the little door the chickens used to go in and out during the day!
Oh how I wanted to shoot that bird!
(now don’t go turning me into Fish and Game, I won’t shoot it, I know its protected)
Dadzoo knocked it off the wall with a broom, and then shooed it out of the little door. The owl sat there stunned for about a minute, then flew off silently, its wing span was about 5 feet. It was beautiful, and frustrating.
Together they strung fishing line from the top of the chicken coop to the fence posts around the chicken yard in a loose grid pattern. The theory is that the owl will swoop down, feel the fish line and back off, but since it can’t see the fish line it doesn’t know how to get around it, or what it really is, so eventually it will stop trying. This, we figure, will give the chickens enough cover at dusk for them to get settled and in the coop and for Chocolate to get out there and shut the door.