Monday, June 29, 2009

Hard lesson learned.

This week I was given a hard lesson in chicken behaviour. When I can get away to see my girls, it is for a much needed stress relief from my Dad's illness. However when speaking on the phone with Dan, he said "I have something bad to show you". When I got there he opened a little box and inside was one of the black chicks, dead. Then he showed me how he had made a larger pen for Gracie and the chicks, inside one of the other black chicks was badly hurt. The hens had seemed to accept the chicks, however it appears that when Gracie felt it was okay to take them outside a few days later, their little pea brains did not recognize the same chicks outside. It looks like they attacked the chicks and I assume Gracie hurried them back up the ramp into the house, not knowing that one was left behind and it tried to get away from the assault by hiding under the ramp. They cornered it there and pecked it to death, I guess the other hurt one almost suffered the same fate but must have made it back up the ramp. The neck looked broken and a huge chunk of feathers were missing. There is no way for any other animal to get them. To me that is Chico's mark, he is dumb as a post like that, if a smaller hen is being attacked, he runs in and attacks the hen worse instead of protecting her or stopping the fight as I have seen smarter roosters do. If I ever caught him hurting a chick, that would be the last straw for him, he is on thin ice with me lately. Chico is actually Dan's rooster and Dan being so good about taking care of the chickens, I hate to ask him to let me get rid of Chico. However I am getting tired of his cranky attitude, he is even attacking the hens when I am around. I joke with Dan and tell him that I'm going to get a large rooster and let it beat the stuffing out of Chico.

I guess this is a lesson, some people let the chicks in with the others only after they are adult size. I never had trouble in all my years of raising chicks, I never lost a chick from an attack. This group of hens are a strange bunch. Dan built a pen for Gracie's gang and Delia was released out on parole as she could not have a hand (wing) in the chick murder. I will wait until the chicks are much bigger to try letting them out again.

The next day while out in the garden I thought of letting a few chickens out with me to run around. I figured nothing would bother them while I was there, lucky I didn't. I kept hearing a strange noise over and over but when I would stop to listen, it would stop also. I looked over at the chickens and saw them all freeze, they softly gave each other a warning sound. I saw something hiding behind a tree every time I looked towards the hens. I walked over to find a huge raccoon crouched behind a tree watching the hens. I really lost it and I think that raccoon did not realize how dangerous a human can be! Live and let live but don't come near my girls and so boldly in the middle of the day with me there.

Anyway I miss my baby chickie, I feel guilty in that if I was able to be there, this would not have happened. Below is the last shot I have of all six together. They are racing around for bread crumbs that Dan is dropping while I film.


Odette said...

oh poor little heart goes out to you coz i know how hard it is to lose a pet esp. when they are young and helpless.
you'll have more little chirping cutie in he farm goes on!

Sunny said...

Sorry to hear about your chick. Seeing raccoons in the day time could mean trouble, as in "rabies". Please check with your local game commission.
I just had a new nest of chicks hatch today, don't know how many or colors yet.

Cori said...

When you look at chickens you never think that they would be cruel. But I have had this same problem. I always get knots in my stomach when it comes time to introduce the newbies to the existing flock.

A pecking order truely does exist in the chicken world. I'm so sorry you lost a chick.

Amri said...

The poor chick! Sometimes I think chickens are evil. But then Snowneck preens me or Lord Firestar offers Lady Sandstorm a bit of food and I think that maybe they aren't so evil after all. Of course, our chickens have never killed anything bigger than a worm.
When a raccoon came into our backyard, my dad scared it away with a Samurai sword. We haven't seen it since.

Tracey said...

Sorry about the chick, as if you need more woes. You must be so knackered and stressed out with everything else, this is the last thing you needed.
Take care

John Gray said...

not a nice part of chicken behaviour!
my sick cockerel had to be seperated as the normally gentle female buffs constantly attacked him....
it is a fad fact especially after you have invested so much in their care