Monday, June 13, 2011

Poor Rooster

Our poor new rooster, he lost his mate and his tail feathers all in the same day.  He was lucky to get away with his life, and fortunately roosters are not too fussy about their hens, and he can get a new one.  Read more of what happened the day a fox visited our farm.

hen in front, rooster in back

A few weeks ago we bought a few pet chickens from the bird auction. For the first time we got roosters. We put pairs of hens and roosters into our various bird enclosures. After a few weeks of getting them familiar to their new homes we would let one pair out in the day so they could be even more free range.

One pair was a Polish hen and rooster. Ideally they have feathers that shot out of their head like a crown or punk hair cut, our birds were just starting to grow these feathers in. They enjoyed being out and especially loved eating the dandelions. We have several pet cats, and they didn't bother the birds at all, so we had relatively no worries about letting them out in the day, at night they returned to their enclosures and we would shut the door.

the rooster days before the "attack"
We have never had fox problems on our hobby farm before. There was one time several years ago where a fox visited in the day, we played a bit of a game with it. I was trying to chase it away but it was on the other side of a large round plant bed, the fox would run around one way and switch directions every time I did rather than running off. Eventually he gave up and left and we never saw one since.

June 4th I let the pair out at 7:00 in the morning and at 9:30am and was just getting ready to go down stairs to clean the cat litter box. I have to walk by the front door, and when I did so I glanced out just in time to see a fox running by with a black chicken in its mouth!

I wasted no time in running out and going after it, still in my pajamas. I chased the fox down the driveway and was yelling. At a point the fox amazed me and did actually drop the bird. The panicking bird ran right past me heading for home while I chased the fox a few more steps. Then I turned to find the bird, but it was missing.

My husband came out (alerted by my yelling) and we both looked for the bird, and its mate. At this time we were not sure which chicken the fox had been holding in its mouth as even when I saw it running I was still focused on the fox. We found a big pile of feathers which were mostly long ones indicating that it had been the rooster, but the hen was also no where to be found.

I had to go to work, my husband continued to search the yard for the frightened, but fortunate, bird. It wasn't until 5:00 that day that the bird made its presence known, returning to its enclosure. It was the rooster. He looked angry and a bit scared, he hopped up on a roost where he felt safe. We still had no sign of a hen. It has been two days and she has not shown up (we were hoping she was hiding scared somewhere). It appears as though the fox must have gotten her first, and was returning for the rooster.

rooster back in his pen too scared to go on the ground
Foxes are known to be particularly smart, and good hunters. We never found any feathers indicating where it got the hen, so it must have got her without warning. A fox will often return to get as many birds as they can when they find an opportunity. We are lucky it only got one, but now our rooster is sad, lonely, and missing most of his tail.

rooster on the ground, missing his tail and hen

I have been keeping a look out for the returning fox, and so far he, or she, has not been back. 
We cannot blame the fox though, it was only doing what was natural, trying to get food to survive.
More Reading on Chickens

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