I fell in love with our chickens early on, when they were days old. Now that they're young women who follow me around I can’t imagine my routine without them.
Have chickens been a conundrum for you? Or smooth sailing? Our chicken game has sucked.
At least thats how it feels. Though our hens & rooster are livestock, not pets, they live the pampered life of backyard chickens with the advantages of free ranging & feasting on all sorts of critters daily. We raised them by hand inside our home, with loving snuggles in laps, songs, parades and the much loved shoulder rides.
Because we want them to have the most natural and happy chicken life as possible, they have access to open grass, brush, and a feast of plants and bugs. We offer them a wide variety of kitchen and garden scraps & I even grow a special garden for them to ruin.
An outside life doesn’t come without hazards. They spend hours each day foraging in the brush, woods and fields. (During daylight only!) But for all our day & night time precautions - fences, enclosures, netting, locks, live traps, cameras and coop after coop, we have lost chickens to predators.
Everyone told us it would be inevitable, but that didn’t make it feel better when I found my first pile of feathers and signs of struggle. We never find the 'bodies'. We had an all out war with raccoons early on, they pretty much cut our flock in half over a 6 month period. 23 to 14. Those hens survived a tornado, this seemed so senseless. We kept at it. We raised another brood and added a rooster. Less free ranging, and a larger more tightly enclosed area for roaming. It’s happening less and less. But the inevitable still happens. This is a farm, we are out in the wilds of the country & we are out numbered. We watch the field cams each week naming the coyotes we can easily recognize & marveling at visits from the most beautiful bobcats and owls. We love the huge ecosystem our land supports, we just don’t love it eating our livestock.
Are you raising chickens? Rural or urban setting? Do you have a predator problem? We’d love to hear from you! Follow our flock on instagram @lettersfromchickens !