26 June 2011

Death and life

Yesterday we lost eight of the hens to (we think) a fox. We've lost one or two hens before, but this was the first time we've had a mass killing. The fox only ate one and a half of them - the rest were just killed for sport. We found them all around the orchard. Upsetting.

Mike had spent the afternoon building some more nest boxes for them. Seems like a waste, now. Were we tempting fate?

This morning we had a more pleasant surprise - we've had a broody hen sitting on five eggs for the last three weeks and today two of them hatched out.

Next time we let a broody incubate some eggs (next year), I'll put more eggs underneath her: apparently they can cope with up to 14 at a time.


Esther Montgomery said...

Heart ripping first photo.

Beautiful second.


Lisa from Iroquois said...

It is seldom that a fox or even a coyote will kill for sport. You are probably looking at something else. Look around for scat/animal droppings and then use the computer to figure it out. Fishers and dogs will kill for sport.

Quinn said...

I am so sorry for your loss!

Emily said...

Sorry you lost some hens. We had a fox trying to dig into our run recently and had to re-enforce. Apparently they can chew through chicken wire.

Amanda said...

Maybe 'sport' was the wrong word. It was a fox - we saw it again last night, but we'd kept the remaining chickens in their inner run yesterday, so they were safe.

I found an interesting article which suggests that it's the continued presence of prey in a confined space that makes a predator carry on killing, even though it's no longer hungry. In a more natural environment, the other birds would all have escaped when the fox made its first kill, but in the enclosure of the orchard, they couldn't. The sight of all that prey is too much for the fox to resist.