Coyote Looking for a Meal

Last night in total darkness I stumbled upon a coyote standing six feet from my chicken coop. I’ve seen her before pacing the fence line knowing just on the other side is enough food to feed her and her pups. The acreage across the road is a common stomping ground where coyotes raise their young. When the pups reach about four months old, the mother moves them to the desert mountain range behind our ranch.

Their food source is rabbits, and believe me, there is an endless supply. Every morning I see ten to fifteen on my property alone. My chickens don’t bother them, so my ranch has become a safe haven breeding ground for cotton tail bunnies. I find babies in my hay pile, compost pile, and under the feed shed all the time.

Apparently my coyote neighbors have grown tired of rabbits and have fresh chicken on the mind… mine. The six foot block wall around my property isn’t going to keep them out either. My ladies are in danger, and not just one, all of them in that particular hen house. Coyotes are not likely to just pick off one chicken and leave, they’re greedy and capable of wiping out an entire flock in minutes.

These particular hens at risk are from a previous flock and housed in a separate chain link enclosure with an elevated hen house inside. Only shade cloth covers the top, so they are the only ladies I’m worried about. The rest of my hens are safe from predators in another area.

I hung an LED light at the coyotes eye level right on the front of the coop where my at risk hens nest at night. I’ve read that coyotes avoid light, so needless to say, last night my entire property was lit up like a Christmas tree. This morning…. I was very pleased to find every single hen was accounted for.

Looks like I have a new project, out with the shade cloth roof and in with the chicken wire. Always something…

Thin Shelled and Brittle Eggs

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Why and What to Do

About 95% of the egg a hen lays is calcium carbonate by dry weight. Over a year’s time, the calcium she puts into her eggshells could equal 20 times the calcium that’s in her bones. So it only makes sense that a steady supply of calcium will help her stay healthy and produce strong egg shells.

I suggest ground oyster shells, and I recommend putting them in their own container so the hens can take what they need. They like them, they’re readily available in feed stores, and they’re not expensive.

Feed Variances and Calcium

If your hens are fed high quality layer feed and get nothing else, their calcium intake is probably sufficient. But if they’re in the yard, fed table scraps and scratch feeds along with commercial feed, they are good candidates for a calcium supplement.

Note: Only feed oyster shells to hens already laying eggs.

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Social Rank Achieved

Sizzle and Dominique hens

Jojo Joins the Free Range Hens

After two months of my new sizzle pullet living in the barn to avoid the pecking order battle ground, Jojo [left] joins the existing free range Dominique hens this morning. Finally! She will probably go back to the barn at sundown, her social rank won’t buy her a ticket to the hens coop, but this is at least a start.

Jojo is a month past the average for layng her first egg, it would be nice if she was allowed to lay in the same nest as the others hens. It will be interesting to see what my ladies decide. Until then… we wait.

Jojo, Sizzle Pullet / 6 months old