• Whisper

Nature red in tooth and claw

My last blog mentioned a pheasant killer on the farm. Now, I am sad to report, the predator has turned its deadly attention to our chickens.

My humans have kept hens for many years in both urban and country settings without any problems, so this attack was unexpected as well as shocking, more so because it took place during daylight.

It was a normal, busy day and we made the first of several day-time visits to the coop to drop off some greens from the kitchen and collect any eggs. The grisly mess we found was stomach-churning and caused a lot of distress and sadness, not least for the awful way the birds had died.

The predator had picked off two of the older birds, both big personalities who had been part of the family for a long time and made the 300-mile relocation to Cornwall from the Midlands threesummers ago. They were enjoying retirement in a spacious coop in a lovely location.

After a heart-breaking clear-up operation, the perimeter was checked for breaks but nothing could be found. Weasels in particular are known to be able to wriggle through the smallest of gaps. Like stoats, they can also climb and dig.

The survivors were clearly distressed but, thankfully, undamaged. I am happy to report that they appear to be eating and scratching around again as normal when I go up there on patrol, but we haven’t collected any eggs recently, I note.

We are being extra vigilant during the day, which means more patrols for me, and locking the hens up as soon as the light starts to fail so I hope there won’t be any more losses to report.

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