Last week, Hubby had to go to "town" for a meeting and quickly went out to do chores. As he came back in and headed for the shower, he remarked "We lost some chickens last night."
I followed him. He couldn't really tell what had happened, but told me I should go out and see what kind of predator we were dealing with.
Did you know you can tell the predator by the way the chickens were attacked? You can! It's a whole, grisly science.
When Kiddo3 took her nap, the older ones and I got dressed and went to see. Yes, I took my children. They know about death. They understand that sometimes things die, even Papas die.
I couldn't find any wounds on the chickens, just a pile of dead ones in the corner and the others were flighty.
Hmmmm, as a scientist, I studied all the evidence. It all pointed in one direction. Something, or someone, had gotten into the HoopCoop the night before and scared the living daylights out of our 68 hens. And, as hens are wont to do, they piled up in a corner. Nine hens were suffocated and trampled in that time of terror.
It isn't a farmers finest hour having to haul dead chickens out of their living space because some wild (or not so wild) animal got in and got his (or her) jollies chasing your chickens.
Hubby and I inspected the HoopCoop and made tighter an opening that was loose.
The next day the hens only laid 11 eggs. A HUGE drop in production. We were getting almost 40 eggs a day. Almost like they all knew and were in mourning for their lost sisters.
It is frustrating, so frustrating to lose animals like that. There is no government safety net for lost laying hens (not that we'd take one anyway). We take this one on the chin and keep going.
The emotional toll is a big one, it always is when you lose an animal. But the financial toll is real as well. These nine hens were just coming into their prime. Each hen was laying 2 eggs every three days. That's roughly 240 eggs per year, times 9 hens. That's 2160 eggs, or 180 dozen. We sell our eggs for $3 a dozen. So in one night, we lost $540 of income per year, for at least two years.
A week later, the remaining hens are back to normal. There have been no other incidents and we remain optimistic that we have at least deterred the invader.
There, a grisly example of how farming is not-so-fun...