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Posted: Sunday 7 March, 2004

by Dan at 6:23pm in Anything goes 2 comments Add your own

Today we had two departures from the smallholding. Sadly the first was one of our new hens. We discovered a trail of feathers this morning leading from our shed along the hedge, under which we found the dead hen. It was most likely a fox, and we think the hen failed to roost with the other hens for some reason, and when we shut them in at about 9pm she was probably under the shed, where the hens have established dust baths. We stopped counting the hens in their ark at night once the new arrivals had settled in - we'll now start doing so again. This is the 2nd hen we've lost this year to a suspected fox, and we need to be more vigilant to prevent it happening again.

The second loss was our old apple tree, which was here when we moved in. It was riddled with canker, and I think was responsible for it spreading to one of our new apple trees about 40 yards downwind in the orchard. Since canker is wind-bourne we couldn't risk it spreading further, so the chainsaw got a wee run this afternoon. The birds still have plenty of places to perch - the tree was right next to a mature hawthorn hedge - and there's a rowan tree we planted a couple of years ago nearby which is getting large enough for the smaller birds to start using it.

Comments

Amy Stewart

Wednesday 10 March, 2004 at 5:09am

This is my fear about getting hens--something we'd like to do--I'm worried about having to deal with their dead bodies. We don't eat meat; I'm not going to slaughter an injured bird, and I don't really know if my vet will treat a sick hen. From an illness/death perspective, it seems like a lot to take on.

Dan

Thursday 11 March, 2004 at 7:40pm

If you're going to keep livestock you have to be prepared to deal with death and sickness, there's no escaping it unfortunately. You can mitigate it though - our hens free-range, but it's perfectly possible to keep a small number in confined but spacious accommodation, particularly with a movable ark. That way they are safe from predators, still have access to grass and leave your garden alone!

Once you've experienced the eggs, lightly poached on hot buttered toast with a touch of freshly ground pepper you'll never regret getting them...

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