The Chicken Massacre of Winter 2021

February 2, 2021

Two weeks ago I released my chickens to peck around the yard during the farrier visit. While he was trimming and resetting Simon’s shoes I watched the chickens peck around, eating grass, bugs, and hoof shavings. The ladies were happily enjoying the day when the two roosters came wondering into the area like two narcissistic dick-heads, swaggering into a ladies brunch. They immediately began freely having their way with the hens. Dislike.

The next day I noticed a couple of the hens were not going back in the coop at night and were trying to sleep on the horse porch. I picked them up, one at at time, and put them in the coop. They kept running past me back to the porch. I took note that these were the hens that seemed to avoid the roosters as much as possible. This went on for several days until I stopped letting them out of the coop for the day. After all, no one needs chicken poo on the porch.

A few days later I noticed the “groupie” hens, these are the ones that follow the roosters around like they are 1980’s hair-band rock stars, were looking pretty rough from all the abuse. Their necks and backs were getting torn up, and their cloacas (egg/butt hole) were looking a bit raw. And this is not even the season that the roosters get extra hormonal. If they were looking so rough now, how bad is it going to be in the spring?

Enough. I posted “Two FREE Bared Rock Roosters” on Craigslist. Saturday afternoon I met someone in town and handed them over.

Done. No more roosters. I drove home smiling.

Sunday morning I woke up and said to Rich, “ah no crowing” with a pleased sigh. I went outside a bit later and let the ladies out. They happily ran past me to go scratch about the yard. I went in and made breakfast, puttered around, and then got dressed to go ride ponies in the cold. At 10:40 I was about to head out the door when Rich yelled, “there is a fox on the porch!”

I ran outside and found my first body. A headless Buff Orpington. I called to my hens and none came, I ran around some more and found the Cockoo Maran hiding on the horse porch. I grabbed Simon out and tacked him up and went hunting for hens. We covered the property, and the height advantage allowed me to spot several feather strewn areas. Daisy found a Salmon Faverolle hiding in some tall grass in a field and ushered her back to the coop. My older resident Ameraucana came running up and followed Simon and I back to the coop. And later the younger Ameraucana was spotted wondering slowly across the killing yard looking around like “WTF!”. I also noticed a few areas with some older feathers sprawled about that would only match the no-longer-resident roosters leading me to believe they had been in a few tosses with a predators that I was unaware of. I eventually found the headless body of the Welsummer hen, and another pile of bloody feathers but no more live hens. With my due diligence done, I put Simon up and headed into the house.

We reviewed the video from the porch cam. Annoyingly the horse porch cam which faces the chicken coop/run was offline and not working. But the other porch camera did catch a panicked chicken shrieking at 10:19, and you can just make out in the very bottom corner where the time stamp is, some flailing wings, and then a still chicken body being dragged off camera. We really do not know what happened but we surmise that the fox was not the sole predator and was more likely coming late to the game to grab some left overs. Do we have some weasels we are unaware of? Would raccoons have done this at 10 in the morning? Is it possible that the absence to the roosters left the gate open for a multi predator hunger games event?

Investigative skills exhausted, I pulled up Craigslist and scrolled for a new rooster. I found an ad for a two year old Ameraucana rooster for $10 and made arrangements to head out immediately. Before we had the two thug Bared Rock roosters, we had a lovely Ameraucana rooster named Roger that we adored. He came in the mail included in a box of pullet peeps, having been sexed incorrectly. He was eventually taken out by a predator during the great chicken massacre of summer 2019 while I was out of the country. We believe that massacre was perpetrated by a pack of coyotes, but that is a different story. Our new rooster, not ironically named Roger #2, was living at a gorgeous hobby farm, tended by a friendly lady who helped me pop him into the carrier and away we went.

Shortly before dusk I tucked him into the coop with the four of twelve remaining hens who were standing around looking quite traumatized. He quietly walked in, tested the water and food and then strolled around the run. I left them to settle and when I checked back they were all climbing up the ramp to the coop together. In the morning when I left for work I left them all locked in (duh), and could hear happy clucking noses coming from the coop as they were waking up.

Two of the thugs before they had grown into full thug-dom.
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