I lost another chicken on Monday or Tuesday. I am at 21 laying hens now. Sarah and I went out on Wednesday and worked on picking up (Sarah worked at the coop, I moved rocks on the hillside and supervised) inside the coop. I provided motivation. We have a deal where she can trade jobs with me at any time and moving rocks didn't look appealing to her so she picked up dead chicken parts from all over the chicken yard and inside the coop. As far as I know nothing is killing the chickens now that they are protected behind the electric wire laden yard fence. I did have to move the rock pile back into place for my babies. Whatever was crawling under the fence moved a few 15# rocks and tried to squeeze under the fence again. Luckily, I drove a large wooden stake through the wire and planted the wire firmly into the ground. The predator could not get inside! I replaced the rocks and decided that it is not a cat, most likely a raccoon again. Not having any luck with the traps so far, still setting them but no takers since the possum. Annmarie is going to get the camera setup on the computer this weekend so I can see what is eating the chickens.
I compensated for the loss by purchasing another 25 babies. They should be here in a couple of weeks. The first of June was the last day to order chicks from the feed store and not have to pay shipping charges. I can order myself via the mail but shipping is around $35 on top of the chick cost. So getting free shipping is a big deal. I ordered 12 Buff Orpington and 13 Ameracanus (really Easter Eggers since I am getting them from a hatchery). So I will need to kick the teenagers out in a week or so and let them assimilate with the main flock. They are always scaredy cats at first and take a while to fit in. Kinda surprising since they are in the same coop and only separated by wire.
Annmarie and I had discussed the need to cull the old chickens last year but I lose almost 35% of my chickens every year. I have one or two chickens from my original batch that are almost three years old. Everyone else has gotten eaten by predators. That is a crazy predator kill loss ratio. People wonder why old time farmers used to be so hard on predators. It is pretty obvious to me. I use technology and electricity to help me out but without those I would be even worse off. The only good thing is the predators are killing my black and red sex link chickens. I never really cared for them and see them as no great loss except for their ability to lay eggs. No personality and very far ranging.