Hi. Very sad here; I found Miss Jane's body the other morning, and I don't know what got her. Since she was the only chicken and the cats were far more afraid of her than she of them, and since I live in a suburb with very little wildlife, I would just leave the chickenyard gate open and she would roam the back yard. It may have been a neighborhood stray cat, or I suppose it could have been a raccoon. Whatever it was didn't seem to be hungry ---- GROSS ALERT --- but it chewed off one of her feet.
Poor little thing. I had her and her mother for a few years and her mother died about a year ago when I had a dog who couldn't resist. (The dog is now living elsewhere, and is very happy, I am glad to say.) Miss Jane was still laying and was so sweet. I miss her.
BUT now I need to redesign things and possibly go with ducks instead of chickens. Any thoughts? I WILL make the area as secure as I can, and not let them roam when I am not there. If y'all could only have two or three in the poultry department, what would you choose? Indian Runner ducks? Other type of duck? Chickens forever?
Raccoons would go for the throat and try to tear the head off. Weasels would be much messier; possums would go in from the back and eat the entrails. DH says that rats will chew the feet, but he wondered why the chicken didn't get away when it was attacked.
I'd go with chickens, mostly because they lay eggs and can also be penned at night, which protects them from a lot of nocturnal predators. Ducks and geese don't seem to take to housing very naturally.
My three ducks go happily into their night house (which is within, but seperated from the rest of the chicken house), and so do the other ducks I know, but maybe it isn't common. As to eggs, I have people who swear by duck eggs (and fight over mine), but I have never eaten one myself, so can't comment. They don't lay as consistently as my chickens, but I've never tried to increase production.
Ducks are messy. They need to be able to swim, but they get the water dirty very quickly. They seem to love mud, digging and paddling in it, and tracking it around. I change their water bowl twice a day, and their "pond" (a bass boat) at least once a week. They are significantly more work for me. I didn't get them on purpose, but have become very attached to them, and love to watch the morning and evening "Duck Walk" between coop and pen.
Thank you both, greenhouse_gal and catmad. I had thought about ducks, partly just because they are so darned cute, but the thought of needing a pond of some sort makes me hesitate; my back yard is less than half of a quarter acre plot. Sigh. Maybe when I win the lottery and can buy a place with a pond...
Now I need to start buying lottery tickets, I guess...
We do have a pond but it's not for ducks! And I'd love to have ducks, but they are a lot of extra work and plucking them to eat them is much harder than doing chickens. So I just buy duck confit and duck breasts when I want a duck fix. As you can tell, our animals aren't pets; we had sheep and goats for years, too. It's just a different mindset.
Funny, DH is downloading a photo and drawing up a simple plan to build a duck house even as I write. I've wanted ducks for years and now have a safely enclosed area for a nice pair. I probably won't get ducks until fall as that is when adult ship I think. I wanted runner ducks but a very kind soul here on Dave's told me her's were very noisy and wouldn't stay put. So I did more research and chose Appleyards. I don't really care if they are Silver Appleyards or any other variety of Appleyard. As they will be in my espallier enclosure I think that is very fitting. Said to be fairly quiet and friendly. They will be used for weed and grass control so they have a job to do...I have Buff Brahma hens and they are very quiet and friendly as well. You have to keep an eye on them as they have become so docile for me that our dogs run right up to the chicken run fencing and the hens don't even look up. Guess they are used to each other...One of the girls likes for me to pick her up and stroke her. She coos at me. There's always one isn't there? Although I can raise animals for food, I cannot eat the ones I know. So we have a neighbor who is the same way (old time rancher believe it or not). So we swap steers before they go off to the packers for our freezer.
Good luck with your choice and I am sorry for your loss.
Rats do the damage at night when they are roosting.. One ate the head off one of my lavenders.. and one lil serama that is broody had a huge spot on it's neck where a rat started to have dinner... GROSS.. They won't fight much at night.. I'm so sorry for your loss..