Predators and sleeplessness
It’s been a awhile since our last post – we’ve been really busy in the gardens and with our new pastured poultry set-up. The main thing that has been taking our time and energy is guarding our turkeys, heritage chickens, and goslings. We’ve been getting up at around 3 to make sure nothing is bothering them in the morning, mostly because we had three separate nights of predator attacks.
We had been camping with them in the field for about a month, and nothing bad had happened so we were starting to feel like it was all going to work out. Then, one morning we found a dead chicken dragged half through the electronet which means that something did not seem to care about this energized fence. It seemed like perhaps a raccoon attack. At this point in our farming of animals we do not have any sympathy for predators. It was time to kill this raccoon if at all possible, now that it knew where a buffet was. We got a handful of conibear traps, traps that were designed to kill the animal immediately. They are somewhat intimidating to set, but what we did was set them into a bucket with some sardines in the back.
That and having the dog tied out and us camping and getting up in the wee hours with a .22 was our plan.
The next time it happened we were getting up at dawn, and Khaiti saw a dead chicken and then a big silent bird flew away – most likely an owl. That made a lot of sense. It had killed 2 chickens, and we watched as it was chased away by a couple irate crows.
Well, Owls are a protected species so we had no choice but to just keep watch and scare away the owl and any other damned predator lurking in the dark bushes. At this point we decided to get all of our chickens into the horse trailer at night, with a nice big roost for them. We’re not sure why we didn’t do this before, but sleep deprivation can make your decisions a little wacky.
A few nights later Andrew got up at dawn and noticed a dead turkey on the ground about ten feet from the roost. Unbelievable, we had thought the turkeys were too big for this type of predation from an owl. That, we know now, is not so. So now we wrap their roost in some woven wire fence to keep them all in the roost until we let them out in the morning.
And we get up at 3 AM to simply walk around with a flash light and make noise until about 6:30, when we start to do our normal chores and get breakfast.
There is nothing about this in Salatin’s books. We’ve learned that regardless of all the books and advice, you need to do what you know will work, and for us that now means enclose your birds at night in some structure, always. Live the dream and learning!