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One sole survivor

(14 Posts)
YouLukaBeautiful Sun 11-Jan-09 08:55:07

We lost a chicken a couple of weeks ago. All that was left of her was feathers scattered around the garden.
Whatever took her must have known he was on to a winner as something came and took seven more a couple of nights ago leaving just one lonely and traumatised hen!! Again though all that was left was feathers all over the garden and one (look away now if squeamish) beak with intestines and bowel etc all attached. Yuk! No blood at all though anywhere! I had always dreaded going out to the run and finding a blood bath and discarded corpses everywhere.
The weather has obviously been v v cold. Would the iciness disguise the amount of blood or is it normal not to see any evidence of death other than feathers??
Our survivor is now looking a bit perkier but v lonely all on her own!
I know that she needs to have some company again soon but I don't really want to get new chickens until the weather is a bit warmer and the fox/badger/whatever isn't looking to book a table at his favourite restaurant every night.
So I'm thinking of a new hen to keep this one company for a while just because I can't bear to see her on her own for too long.
What does happen to hens on their own? Do they mope and become 'sad' and unhealthy really? or is it just kinder to have some companionship for them?
I'm thinking of getting either some eggs or some new chicks when the weather becomes warmer instead of just getting POL this time.
Any advice or shared experiences welcome. HELP!! grin

thesockmonsterofdoom Sun 11-Jan-09 08:57:28

no advice, just wanted to say how sorry I am.
Can you make your garden more fox proof, I think you have to be very careful introducing young hens to older ones as they can get very nasty.

YouLukaBeautiful Sun 11-Jan-09 09:06:17

Thanks Sockmonster. Our garden is pretty fox proof I think and we've never seen any around here in the last year or so of chicken keeping - and before that too. We have got a badger sett nearby though but have managed to stop them coming into the garden for the last eighteen months or so. Well no more signs of them anyway. I'm guessing that a hungry cold fox must have scaled the garden wall. The only other way he could have got in was possibly squeezing through the bars of the front gate but even if he could have squeezed through himself theres no way he could have taken a chicken through with him.
It's a mystery. sad

pooka Sun 11-Jan-09 09:13:19

Foxes can climb fairly effectively. Especially if tempted by lovely chickens. They can have a reasonably large range as well.

I would make sure that your run is sited away from the wall. And spend some time going back and back over the chicken security.

YouLukaBeautiful Sun 11-Jan-09 09:18:35

Thanks Pooka smile

pooka Sun 11-Jan-09 09:47:44

See this is what puts me off having chickens - the idea of Mr Fox and family munching on bones-io. I am feeble blush

Plus we have very active foxes here. Came back from holiday once to find traumatised cats outside and fox sitting on our upstairs landing shock having come in through the cat flap. He'd eaten their cat food. Shoudl point out that had my mother going in every day to feed and check on cats over the long weekend, and he had obviously still been cunning enough to work out that we were not there at night. Shudder.

madlentileater Sun 11-Jan-09 17:10:59

poor you.
we had a fox attack a few years ago, in the summer, two vanished completely- just a few feathers left and 2 in the run with necks broken.
Not sure how sad a lonely chicken would be, but I aggree introducing new ones could be difficult. If the remaining one were to go broody, you could put eggs under her, that would be a solution.

Doodle2U Sun 11-Jan-09 18:58:30

YLB, it's not good to have just one chicken. I think I would get her some company asap & give up free-ranging them for now and keep them in the run.

I'm sorry this has happened sad

YouLukaBeautiful Sun 11-Jan-09 19:53:54

Thanks Doodle2U that's what I'm planning on for now. It's just the logistics of when/where to get new hen and of course the introduction. Will get more eggs/chicks/POL later on when it warms up.
Madlentileater - her going broody would be great wouldn't it? {crosses fingers in vain distant hope}

YouLukaBeautiful Sun 11-Jan-09 19:55:24

Pooka - I think that I would be terrified of your 'friendly fox'. What a scare to come home to! Poor you!

pooka Sun 11-Jan-09 21:53:18

It was... rather grim. To say the least.

And wasn't even a glossy tailed beaut of a fox. Was a mangy London fox with moth eaten tail. Boak.

Mamamamaboo Mon 19-Jan-09 21:14:34


We too sustained a casualty this week - poor Lulabelle. The advice I've been given is to introduce a new chicken at night when the rest are on their roost (they won't fight then) and then expect it to be picked on for a few days while they establish the pecking order. Apparently, this can be alleviated by introducing a greater number of birds than there are established ones. I'm also buying a couple of 'Foxwatch' deterrents for the garden. Not cheap but cheaper than a new batch of hens! Good luck.

tortoiseshellWasMusicaYearsAgo Wed 21-Jan-09 15:42:37

Be very careful adding one chicken to an existing flock - especially a young bird or a smaller one - chickens can be very nasty and can kill newcomers.

Your best bet is to get at least a couple of new ones, and take it very very slowly - if you can section off part of the run for them that is good, put feeding points by the partition so they get used to feeding/drinking together. Then try free ranging together, and then cautiously try them together. But do expect that to take a good number of weeks - I think it took about 8 weeks for my 2 newbies to be accepted by 1 older hen. Have a look at my blog if you like here to see what we did.

YouLukaBeautiful Tue 27-Jan-09 19:52:55

Thanks all.
I've done the very slow process of introductions before when introducing 5 new ones to four 'oldies'
The 'chicken psychology' was doing my head in at times. We got there in the end, although did have one casualty who had to live seperately until she 'went for a walk one night'. Poor thing!
You're right though. It took us weeks and weeks.
I still haven't taken the idea of a new companion for my older hen yet because I am worried about the outcome. Still feeling rotten for her 'loneliness' though!

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