Thursday, February 7, 2013

What We Caught Killing Our Chickens- You will be shocked.

Yesterday, turned out to become a nasty lesson in farm life. We have lived here a year now. It has been pretty quiet with no hawks, coyotes, fox, or raccoon. These wild animals tend to hang out by the river a few miles away. We have a fully field fenced acre.  I watch for stray dogs all the time which is not often. We have dogs, but our dogs are not outside all the time. They are older and don't like the cold weather much. The chickens and ducks are locked up at night and in the morning until we are up for the day. I am home most of the time and I keep an ear out for suspicious sounds.

Yesterday, was one of those days when they were inside. I let all the ducks and chickens out early yesterday. I didn't think much about it until we heard a ruckus out in the yard. We went out there yelling. We knew it had to be a dog. What did we see running off with part of a dead chicken? You'd expect perhaps a German Shepard? Pit Bull?  mix mongrel? Nope. It was not one of these usual breeds responsible for livestock destruction. I might add that domestic dogs are one of the worst problems with livestock. German Shepherds, Rots, and aggressive dog breeds are often the ones to blame for dead chickens and ducks. But not this time. That was the shock.

It was our neighbors Yorkie running out of our yard with chicken meat in his mouth, right through the field fencing faster than lightening, and right into the their front door across the street. I was shocked.  One dead chicken and our rooster who tried to protect the hen, had no tail. Roosters do their best to protect their hens. This is one of the reasons for having a rooster with your flock. The dog had pulled out his tail completely.  He is alive so far but we are not sure if there will be complications because of  the damage to his back end.  These dogs are not out often. When they have been out, they had never entered our yard before. They seemed harmless and friendly. If we had not seen the dog with part of the dead chicken in his mouth, we would never have suspected a Yorkie.  This goes to show you that any dog, even cute little lap dogs can be destructive to your life stock. In looking up their history. we found Yorkies were first bred to hunt rats and small animals that were eating the livestock food in the barn. They were bred to hunt small animals.  Terrier breeds such as the fox terrier were also bred for keeping the farm free from rats, mice, and rabbits. These dogs are still used today for hunting.So when your chickens get killed, you need to look at all the dogs near your house...even your neighbors. They will have no idea that their cute little lap dog has a whole different personality when near livestock. 

Naturally when we confronted them, they said we were mistaken. Their sweet dog could not have killed a chicken. Things did not go well after that. Its hard to get it wrong, when you have a clear view of their front door. These people live in a trashed yard and house.  Their house is littered from head to foot in trash inside and out. The dogs are not taken care of properly. Their dogs have been out and nearly run over several times. Their yard is not fenced at all. They do not care.

What did we do? We called animal control.  You should know that in most states, if you find someone's dog attacking your livestock, you have the right to shoot that animal. These people are visited monthly by the sheriff about their trash and other issues. When dogs kill livestock, they get the taste of blood and they will do it again. Dogs kill for pleasure, not like coyotes who kill for food. Dogs will go into a chicken coop and playfully kill every one of your chickens. 30 years ago with my first chickens, I came out to find a stray German Shepard sitting peacefully in my fenced chicken coop, among all my dead chickens. He had climbed a  6 foot fence to get at them. If I had owned a gun, I would have shot him at the time. Animal control came and took him away. He was a stray so I just lost my livestock. People let their dogs roam often not realizing that their dog may be killing livestock on their morning jaunts.  You need to understand that your house pet who has never experienced chickens or domestic rabbits, has no clue that he is doing something wrong. Animals must be taught that chickens or rabbits are a part of the household to be protected.   When you get a new dog on the farm, you need to watch that dog and train it to make sure it will not become a killer by accident. How does a dog become a killer by accident. They see the chicken, it runs, they run after it, and then it becomes a fun game. The dog may pounce on it, not meaning to kill it, but it does. This turns out to be fun for the dog and becomes a game or  obsession.  He is not killing to eat but because its fun.

Know your dog and its bad points. Our Laso is not good with small kids. He is terrified of noises.  He is scared of the ironing board noise when its set up, dishes dropped, gun shots in a movie, and thunder storms. He does not like his face being cleaned.  When children come to visit, he is put in the bedroom. Our Aussie is the same way. He is not good around noisy adults or children.  We had to train him to be good with the chickens and ducks.  We would never allow either one to roam off our property. One of the reasons we picked this particular property is because it was the only one we found with a fully fenced yard. If you can't fence your whole property, fence in an area that is adequate for your size dog. So for those of you who live in rural areas, keep your dogs from roaming.  Your wonderful, sweet dog may be killing someone's cat or chickens.  This applies as I found out, even to cute little lap dogs as well.

This one incident now means we will now have to spend two hundred dollars on chicken wire to over fence the field wire in the front part of our property to keep their dog out. He is so small he walks right through the field wire like a fox would. We have 500 feet of front access to our yard, that is now an open door for that dog to strike again.  It irks me that we will have to spend that money because of people who let their dogs roam.  The alternative is to keep my ducks and chickens from full assess to our property. Their access to all our yard keeps the property clean and free of weeds and bugs. They are gardeners who are very good at it. They have a right to roam on our land.  You have a responsibility to keep your dog on your property, away from other people's livestock.

This article is in response to their call stating their dog could not have killed our chicken...he is only a Yorkie. Seeing is believing folks. All dogs are capable of killing livestock. In 10 minutes we lost 6 months of work and food to get that chicken up to the laying age. If we had been gone he could have killed several more. I spent two hours today placing the first section of chicken wire over the field wire in the front yard. It will take 4 more days to get the rest of the fence done. I have a right to be real real irked at what irresponsibility is costing us in time and money.

Signing off for now.
Kate Freer, The Herbladyisin

Update: We now live in Indian Mound, TN as of 1-15-2015

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God bless all of you this weekend,
Kate Freer, The Herbladyisin