Went out first thing this morning to let the chickens out of their coop.
My first thought: bear. Then I realized it’s still a little early for that, and there’s too much damage for a fox, so that made it more likely to be an opportunistic scavenger, like a bobcat or coyote. Finding this track in the mud sealed the deal:
A quick headcount told me one hen had outright bought it, and one is pretty grievously wounded – there’s parts hanging off her, poor thing. I’ll likely have to deliver the coup d’grace later. The rest of the hens were busily searching through the scraps of their dearly departed sister. Kinda gross.
So we’re down to six, or maybe five by the end of the day. I did a quick patch job on the roof with plywood and screws, and added sturdy barrel-bolts to the doors – the coyote had actually managed to pry the nesting box doors open, bending the little metal toggle buttons I was using to “lock” them. So the survivors should be a little safer tonight. Right.
I think I reconstructed what happened. Sometime during the night, the GFI outlet that the fence charge is plugged into tripped – it was raining heavily all night, and some water must have snuck into a connection somewhere along the way. As Brother Harold notes, predators seem to have a preternatural sense of electric fields, or in this case the absence thereof. The rest is history.
Now I need to think up a better design for the next coop. And luckily, it’s the right time to get some replacement birds started.