this is our second run at keeping chickens. the first lasted about a year but we did (or didn't do) something horribly wrong and they all died.
this time we have had much better results. the chickens are basically free to roam within their "yard" that is simply fenced in with few obstacles or obstructions to them inside.
no tiny coop doors to navigate or gimmicky feeders to negotiate.
we have two areas, one for meat birds, and one for laying birds. the toll has been heavier in the laying area, but thats because we have so far only had meat birds in sort of limited runs.
the problem we are having is that there have been at least a dozen broken necks over the past year. I have done a little searching but the stories I am finding about chickens and broken necks is along the lines of "the exceptpion" rather than "the rule" certainly not a normal occurrence. I would like to know from the more experienced chicken keepers out here, on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being no broken necks and 10 being their max personal observance of broken necks, what would they rate 12+ in one year? the main purpose of this post is to find out exactly how abnormal this particular rate of occurrence is. any responses from those more experienced that myself would be appreciated.
for reference, we have several of what we call "farm dogs". four have been on this property their entire lives, two are new but well trained by the old timers. they have not allowed a single coyote or hog onto our property that we have been able to see, or see evidence of. they bark at strangers and surround the poor fed-ex or ups driver should they be unlucky enough to be sent our way.
the obvious response here, I think, is "is someone doing this intentionally?" Personally, I believe there is someone doing this. this person is an adult and is quite familiar to the dogs. the problem has been affording a camera and having it in the right place at the right time to get any sort of real evidence. we have to date not caught a picture in an area where a chicken was found with a broken neck. we have also had 3 or 4 rabbits mysteriously loose from their cages and subsequently eaten by dogs, and we have found our first (pet) pot bellied pig having eaten or have been fed what appeared to be used motor oil. the suspect in all cases has suggested that it was other wild life, or the children that are doing these things. the old-timer dogs are rather highly motivated by what they see as food or threat. I am sure that one in particular is probably the culprit in eating the loose rabbits, but can hardly be blamed for being a dog in that regard. the problem is them getting loose from cages that were locked as of our last contact with a living rabbit. one rabbit was, as the suspect surmised, pulled from a sort of improvised temporary cage by a coyote, through an impossibly small hole with sharp wire protrusions without leaving so much as a tuft of fur or a drop of blood. it was easy to see that nothing was pulled out of that cage, but the cage was meant to look like something had chewed into it.
I've never seen a chicken with a broken neck, and I've kept them on and off all my life. It does sound as though someone may be doing this deliberately.
Are you certain it's not a child who's developing issues? I had a foster sister once who would kill dogs by stamping on their backs, just as a means to spite her carers. Turned out she had bigger issues than we were told about when she arrived.
@trevor t.: "....we have to date not caught a picture in an area where a chicken was found with a broken neck. "
Are you using some kind of trail/wildlife or surveillance camera? If not, would recommend you trying these. The ONLY time we repeatedly lost chickens was due to foxes...easily caught on a wildlife came in the act. Almost never any broken necks in 5+ years and hundreds of chickens.
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posted 3 years ago
never had a broken chicken neck in my years of raising them.
broken legs, toes, beaks and wings but never a neck.
is it possible to put a trail cam inside with the chickens and catch who/whatever is coming in and getting them? were they all killed while free ranging? what would be the motivation for someone to kill your chickens?
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I have quite a few chickens (40 or so), and I know lots of people that raise chickens and I have never even heard of a chicken with a broken neck except for the people that kill them that way when butchering.
"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do."
The only time I've seen a broken neck one of my chickens was the time the dog grabbed one and shook it. I've raised thousands of chickens and I've never seen them break their necks.
Someone or something is responsible for the problem. Things I'd consider....,.
...one of the dogs is responsible
... a child is doing it
...an annoyed neighbor or jogger is taking revenge
..a mentally ill person in the area is doing it
If your dogs are running loose, they could be a root cause that I'd investigate. Even if it isn't the dogs killing the chickens themselves, they could be leaving your property and harassing the neighbors or neighbors livestock. You say that they "attack" delivery trucks, so if they are also charging joggers, walkers, bicyclists, neighbors, and others, it could be the basis for festering ill will.
If this was happening on my farm, I'd be looking at my own dogs first. Of my 6 dogs, two will sneak attack chickens, thus they are penned when not directly supervised. One of the other 4 will wonder off the farm, thus we fenced our area to prevent him from doing that. I don't have children or other people living here, but if I did I'd also check out that possibility.
Best of luck in solving the mystery.
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posted 3 years ago
wow. thanks for the quick replies.
children as culprit? always possible, but we have had alot of experience as foster and adoptive parents and my wife has an exceptionally developed (and possibly scary) intuition and ability to read people, especially her own family.
she is certain that it is not one of them. also there is a pretty clear pattern of correlation between incidents with the suspect and a dead chicken. also, in fostering the level of care advertised is never what you get.
we have in the last few months been given a real trail cam and I have cobbled one together from a little project computer called a Raspberry Pi. (works great by the way, just sayin')
only two cameras in operation with no results.
the dogs all sort of recreate by chasing large birds before they can land: vultures, hawks whatever. its their countrified version of chasing the mailman I suppose.
all the chickens were killed inside their particular areas. too small to be called free ranging, but it is what it is. as to motive? the suspect is absolutely bonkers ( to use nice words and stay away from obvious psychological labels)
we do butcher the meat birds, if it was a child I would expect they would try to emulate that rather than consistently go to the same method.
we live on 55 acres almost in the middle of nowhere. our nearest neighbors are about 1/2 mile away. no joggers ever spotted, though sometimes those people can get a little carried away basically, we're out in the boonies.
I know that it is almost certainly the suspect in question. I just wanted to get an idea of how often chickens actually break their own necks.
Also been raising chickens among other things many moons, chickens breaking their own necks is very rare indeed and if and when they do rarely is it fatal, (it is somewhat of a shock to see one go walking by with its head and neck swiveling around like a broken fawcet. Keep monitoring with the cameras, the culprit will show up.
We had a similar problem couple of years ago. Once all the chikens got their necks broken in one night! We were not able to spot it at first but a month later we saw a weasel checking inside the fence to see if there is any other chikens left. The old folks say it is always the "sansar" (in turkish - stoat/weasal) to accuse when something misterious happen in the coop! They also say that they are the murderers of the nature, killing for sport (killing but not eating). It will be really hard to spot them, even with a cam Since they avoid human scent. But they always walk through the same track each night (passing the same spot at same hour every day - once while they leave their barrow, and once to go back ) , so quite predictable.
I added a link to a video, in Turkish though. In the discription he say " Sadece hayvanların boğazlarını sıkarak öldürüyor. Bundan bir ay önce 25 tane tavuğumu telef etmişti. Bu kez ise daha fazla zarar verdi. 43 hayvanım telef oldu. " which mean like: " he only grab their necks (strangle or break their neck). Once it killed 25 of my chikens. But this time it killed even more, 43."
izlesene.com-chicken-neck-weasal Hope it helps! Good luck!
With the cameras, since you suspect it's a person doing the damage, I'd make sure to hide the cameras in something like a bird house so they're less noticeable but still catch the area on film. I truly wish you luck in finding whomever or whatever is doing this. What a senseless disregard for life, especially if it's human-caused!
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