I’m a real keen chicken keeper and always have been since my parents introduced me to them when I was little. The first hen I can really remember was a Rhode Island Red called Henny who I had tamed so much she thought she was a dog and would follow me arose me for cuddles. But one thing tends to happen in chicken keeping – attacks.
I lost Henny to a fox, along with the rest of her flock. The shock, devastation and sadness at losing chickens to a predator never changes. While you might get used to it or expect it, it still Sears me in the heart every time, the only thing that has changed over time is my knowledge and drive to stop it from happening again.
Just recently I had another spate of attacks, losing seven of my chicks or smaller hens. It wasn’t a fox attack this time because my hen pen is secured by heras fencing panels, sheep netting and chicken netting (making it tripled fenced) with a hard rocky base to stop them.
Foxes when they attack will kill everything in sight, taking the heads off, leaving the bodies and coming back for them over time. Instead I was losing one every couple of days. I would find that whatever had come would scatter feathers everywhere and I would have a body part here and there. . The strangest part was that my other hens weren’t unduly alarmed at the presence of this fairly frequent visitor. It wasn’t rats, because II constantly bait them and there were no tracks or evidence I had them anywhere.
So what could it be? This is where a good friend stepped in with his trail camera and said “let’s see what’s going on here”. Our initial suspect was a stoat or a mink and we hoped to catch it on film. Alas, the camera was fantastic at catching the secret life of my hens but no attacks, as whatever was attacking then switched itself to another part of my run.before I could change the camera’s location I finally caught my predator one morning with a chick in its claws. A buzzard hawk.
The only trouble is, birds of prey are protected and we can’t get out the gun and shoot them so it took a bit of thinking and then a lot of a farmer’s favorite friend – baler cord to sort the problem. My run now looks like a laser obstacle course with pink string laced across it in different directions.
Unfortunately my run is too big to net over the top properly but touch wood, this has worked. I’ve also invested in some shiny silver tape, some cat shaped scorers and will be putting a number of CDs up around to frighten them.
I’ve kept chickens for 25 years and it still surprises me what I’ve come across now that I’ve not experienced before. I’m in the middle of writing a brief guide to chickens for those who keep them on my allotments, now I’m not sure it’s going to be very brief if I keep finding new things to put in it!
So while I’ve told you about my recent chicken attack, I’ve also touched on the he subject of trail cameras. It was my friend Greg who first introduced me to the idea of them and since then, we’ve become the proud owners of two of them. Our first trail camera was a Ltl Acorn which I purchased to record what visitors we’ve been having to our hay shed.
I managed to purchase quite a good deal at the time, which consisted of the camera, a 8gb SD card, a metal box to secure it and a solar panel to keep the batteries charged. The resolution on the camera is 12mp and can capture both daytime and nighttime images. Thanks to this camera, when we had a suspicious vehicle parking by our gate, it caught the number plate and was discrete enough not to be detected.
The police were able to visit this person at home to check their reasons as to why they were by our property. Thankfully it turned out to be nothing illegal – a neighbor had forgotten they had given permission to a person to collect from their dung heap and for some reason the person thought it was easier to park up by our property to collect it.
The camera has also picked up on various wildlife and escaped horses as well as recorded any visitors through the gate. The downside is, that I have to go and check the recordings every so often, but they’re dated and timed so I do check through to see what’s been going on. Having borrowed Greg’s camera which was a cheaper version from Lidl, I have also invested in a second cheaper, mobile trail camera as I was impressed with the quality of Greg’s version.
This has yet to be tested – it’s due to go out for a trial run once the wind dies down a bit here. So I will follow up shortly with thee evidence. The beauty of trail cameras is their ability to go mobile – you can move them from place to place, and they are pretty discrete which means you can catch activities without it being noticed. Whether you’re into wildlife, want to catch prowlers or want to discover the secret life of your chickens,
I recommend investing in a trail camera.