Bushy Boots was only 4 months old and loved roosting at night high in the maple tree. He was taken suddenly by an owl who decided to have a gourmet meal last night. He will be missed by his 3 red hens Bonita, Fancy and Pissy. :(
That has become a nightly ritual around here...getting the chickens out of the trees. We've discovered that a hose with a power sprayer works pretty good. :) They keep going up higher and higher until the spray can't reach them...They're too darned smart and outwit us all of the time. Strangely enough we've clipped their wings and they still can fly up into the tree. AGH! What a frustration!
*G* I have a permanent ladder in one spot. If I wait until it's dark enough, I can pluck them off and install them in the coop. Unfortunately, they are changing spots recently, so I go out and scout before it's dark. Last night I had four on the back porch rail (which were easy to find and retrieve) but the two Silver Phoenix hens were finally located in the middle of a kudzu covered closely branched 12' viburnam. Not only did I have to do some fancy twisting to extract the girls, I had kudzu bugs all over (shudder).
Yeah, I've had about enough :(. My plan is to build an addition to the coop that they're _supposed_ to sleep in, and lock them up for a week or two, just to convince them that it's "home". The real problem is that their former owner had a real problem with rats, and he felt they were safer in the trees, so that's where they slept. Unfortunately, they were NOT safer from other things, so here they are.
We've lost 8 chickens so far. Between the owl, hawks and coyotes I'm afraid that we'll not have many hens left. Our only choice to protect them is to start penning them up. :( I really don't want to do that and would rather they be free range but if they are going to dinner for others then we'll have to do it. So sad to raise them for 4-5 months and then when they are ready to lay something takes them. Grrrr.
I was having the same problem, and didn't want to lock them all up all the time, either. So I compromised. I put up a fence at the back of where they free range, because that's where there's access to the woods. Also where the dogs used to (and possibly still do) come thru. The fence won't stop anything determined, but will stop a casual grab, and keeps (or used to, they found other ways out) the chickens closer to the house. Sometimes TOO close *G*. I also don't let them out until 8:30 am, and start putting them away as it begins to get dark. Don't know that it helps too much, but it's the best I could do. I spend more time out there than I used to, and that's probably a factor. I was gone for 10 days in July, and 7 chickens disappeared. Don't even know if they went one by one, or all at once :(.
We do the best we can.
Fall is near so I'll be getting a spot ready for the hens in the barn and making a fenced in area for a small run in the winter. I think it would be healthy for them to be out in the snow getting some sunshine and fresh air. Although I'm sure the owls, hawks and coyotes will be hungrier too! Oh well, can't cry over missing chickens since there's nothing I can do to protect them. :(