When one decides to raise livestock of any kind, one takes on the responsibilities of not only providing the basic necessities of life (food and water), but also the responsibility of keeping those animals safe. The sad fact of life on a homestead or farm is that sometimes you are unable to keep animals safe. Unfortunately, this was the fact of our life 2 weeks ago here on the TreadlingHome-stead. It is still painful for me to edit these pictures and write this post today.
On Friday, July 6, 2018, my husband, Josh went out to feed and water the chickens like he does everyday after we returned home from having breakfast and grocery shopping; an otherwise uneventful morning. While I was unloading the groceries to take in, he came power walking back toward the car with a look of sheer terror on his face; something I don’t think I have ever seen. I asked him what was wrong and he didn’t answer. I asked him again. He took a deep breath and with tears starting for form in his eyes he informed me that something had gotten into the chicken coop and killed our rooster and 1 of our hens. I immediately went into panic mode and ran over to the coup to check on the remaining chickens. What I found was poor Henny Penny. She was one of our 12 hens, and one of the original 4 we had gotten. I saw that her comb was half torn from her head and started to lose it emotionally, while still trying to analyze the situation. Josh was taking care of the rooster and the other hen who had lost their lives. The rooster, named Bud, was kind and gentile. He was always keeping an eye in his girls and if anything would mess with them or threaten his hens, he was a force to be reckoned with. I told Josh that Penny was the only one I could see alive that was injured and we needed to get her out of the coop and run area asap since the other chickens had begun to peck at her wounds (chickens will peck at anything red, especially blood). Since Penny had been with us for 3 years and she was 1 of my pets, I started to panic, shout and cry when the other chickens started pecking at her more when she tried to get a drink of water. She just cowered with her head down and walked to the corner trying to hide her head. Josh ran in the chicken run and picked her up sweetly. She nestled her head into his arm and we walked her to the porch where we had prepared an old dog kennel with some straw, food and water for her. This was to separate her from the others so she would have a chance to heal without the other chickens killing her (chickens are harsh to each other). We decided to take pictures of Henny Penny to show how she would recover and to help better tell the story, hoping to help prepare this for you, our readers who may be thinking about getting chickens.
After examining the bodies of our rooster and the hen, my husband called my dad to see what type of animal had gotten into the coup. After describing the wounds to my dad, they decided it must have been a raccoon. We decided not to photograph the remains of our rooster and hen due to the extreme graphic nature. ***WARNING: GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF FATAL WOUNDS*** I am going to describe the wounds they sustained in detail here for educational purposes only. The bodies of the rooster and hen had their chests gnawed and clawed open and their organs eaten, leaving the coveted breast and other meats intact. A gruesome sight for sure with blood and feathers strewn about, telling the story of how they fought to the end. This was a dead giveaway that it must have been a raccoon. After determining this, Josh went to the chicken coop and run to sure up their defenses now that the rooster was dead, since we wanted to ensure our girls would be ok. After making sure the coup and run were secure, Josh got out our live-trap to catch the raccoon in case it decided to return for another meal.
While Josh did all this, I was sitting with Penny. I talked to her and told her how strong she was and how proud we were to have her as a chicken. As I did this I examined her wounds. Pictured below are her wounds described with each picture. ***Warning***, these pictures are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers. Please use discretion with small children.
Henny Penny had been viciously attacked. Her comb (the red thing on top of her head) had been ripped half way off; her eye had been so badly damaged that she couldn’t open it and the entire left side of her face had been clawed down to her wattle.
Penny’s right side was covered in blood from her comb and swollen from trauma, but otherwise seemed ok. There were no other visible wounds that Josh or I could see.
My mom came over to help check Penny’s wounds and to assess the situation further. Penny was sleeping well and seemed as though, baring any major infections, would recover. The outlook for her left eye was grim, but we counted ourselves lucky if that would be all she lost after fending off a raccoon. We tended her wounds and I got ready for the maker’s market I had the next day. We continued to check on Penny every hour or so to make sure she was ok and that no insects were bothering her wounds. She seemed to be sleeping well, standing and breathing well (unlabored) so we went to bed.
The next morning, July 7, 2018, I got up and packed the truck for the maker’s market (check out our products at the TreadlingHome Shop). My dad had arrived to help and checked on Henny Penny while he was there. He said if she made it through the day she should be able to recover and that we had done the right thing by separating her from the rest of the flock. We finished packing the truck and went to the market to set up.
After we got set up at the market, Josh came home to be with Penny and the rest of the animals so they wouldn’t be left alone all day. We had a great day at the market and Josh returned to help pack up. After loading the truck, I asked him how Penny was doing. He looked at me with the most tender look I think I’ve ever seen on his face and said that she didn’t make. He had checked on her when he got home around 1 pm, and when he woke from a nap around 4 pm, she was gone. He said that when he took her out of the kennel that her feathers opened up to reveal a gaping wound just under the top layer of feather. It had been covered by the feathers and that’s why we had all missed it. She had fought off the raccoon, but walked away with fatal wounds that went undetected. She was laid to rest with her rooster and sister hen. They went out fighting and are dearly missed. I’m not going to lie, I’m crying trying to write this because I miss my pets and feel such regret for not being able to protect them when they needed us most. They will all be dearly missed.
The raccoon has yet to return, and my husband hopes that it died of fatal wounds as well. All of our remaining chickens, 10 total, are doing well and feel secure in their home.