Yesterday morning around 10am, I looked out our back window to see the lid of one of the nesting boxes on the ground next to the coop.
What in the world?
This could not be good.
Those lids were held closed with carabiners.
The carabiner and the latch were still there, but something had torn the lid right off its hinges.
There was no blood, no feathers.
No chicken wandering the yard or neighbor's fields.
After propping the lid back in place so no chickens jumped out, I started counting.
There should have been 13.
I counted 12.
(I counted 3 times to make sure I hadn't just missed one.)
When my kids got home from school, they helped investigate.
They found a small pile of feathers I had missed.
We still weren't sure what could have done it.
My husband cracked the case:
he noticed bite marks on the lid and signs of digging close to the coop.
(Thank goodness for buried wire mesh all around the coop!)
It had to have been a dog.
There are 2 or 3 that we have seen running around our street in the last week.
They are either strays or get out a lot.
He and my oldest son boarded up a hole in our back fence, closed all the gates to the backyard, and securely screwed the lid back in place. (He reinforced the one on the other side as well.)
We are looking into different coop options.
This one has always been pretty flimsy--it was a build-it-yourself kit, and all the wood pieces are very thin. We may have to just get some plans and build one out of stronger materials.
I'm sure this will not be the last time an animal tries to kill our chickens.
I just hope it's the last successful attempt.
Last week we had a hawk swoop down right in front of us and try to snatch one.
We were all in the backyard at the time.
It must not have noticed the wire mesh all around the coop and run.
It beat its wings against the mesh a couple of times, then took off when my son started shouting and running toward it.
Sheesh! Leave our chickens alone!
p.s. How do free-range chickens survive?