I think I need to post about neighbors’ animals killing livestock. Just since the end of May, I’ve lost two ducks, two chickens and my best rooster to other peoples’ dogs on my property.
There’s no leash law here. Honestly, I don’t think there should be. That’s a subject for a different time.
Our county does state that if you or your livestock are threatened, you can put down the dog. I had to do this the other day.
So, there have been incidents with two dogs. I’ll talk about the latest one first.
I went out to water the Delawares at lunch time, and noticed a pile of feathers near the chicken tractor. Basically, the dog got its nose under the tractor far enough that it could reach a hen. I kept an eye out for the predator while I worked. Sure enough, I saw a dog that had come for a snack. It was a little past sunset when the dog came running by. It had a chicken in its mouth.
I didn’t recognize the dog, which is a strike against it. I don’t know all the dogs in the area, but I would recognize eight or nine at least. It had no collar, which is a second strike against it. There are some wild dogs running around our area and they’re bad news. Plus, two lost birds in one day means that this is probably a habit. Strike three. I made the choice to shoot it.
Some of you are going to be upset with me. I totally get that. I’m hoping you can get through this post and see both sides. Some of you are cheering me on. Honestly, it’s a tragedy either way.
I’ve been told that I should have fed the dog. A good friend told me this. I think she was operating on a misconception. It’s very unlikely that the dog was killing my chickens just to satisfy hunger. It didn’t eat the first chicken it killed. It wasn’t so hungry that it stopped to eat the second chicken it killed either.
The chickens were part of a game that it was playing. This was entertainment for the dog.
The story doesn’t improve from there.
It turns out that this was a neighbor’s dog and they were very upset. I get that. They’re sad that their dog isn’t around any more.
Should I have recognized my neighbor’s dog? Nope. I’ve had dealings with them before and it was about another one of their animals, a horse that was running loose. I wasn’t impressed then and thought it was best to keep my distance.
Would I have shot the dog if I had known it was a neighbor’s animal? Probably not. The ducks and rooster that I lost were killed by a different neighbor’s dog. I went to the neighbor and the dog doesn’t live with them anymore.
So, the neighbors are upset. I explained to them that their dog was killing my chickens. I got cussed at, threatened, etc. I shrugged and walked away. There was no reasoning with them.
It doesn’t get better from there.
They called the police. I have to say the sheriff’s deputies were very polite. They interviewed me and said that I was well within my rights. They asked about the neighbor’s other missing dog, which I new nothing about, and left. They came back a little later, asking about an arrangement to get the dog back to the neighbors. I was more than willing to oblige.
I was very angry. In retrospect, I think it was the lack of respect for me and what was mine that fired me up. I was forced to pick between two bad choices and I lost property that was valuable to me.
I’ve made my points. I’m going to keep writing, because some of you may not understand what the big deal was about a couple chickens. Please feel free to read on if that’s the case. If you already “get” what I’m writing, you probably don’t want to keep going–it’s going to sound like a rant.
My and my family’s investment in the Delaware flock is enormous.
We paid for a membership to have a certified flock, with teaching and certification. Then we paid a lot for the chicks we received. At that point, we had invested about $2k into the birds.
Then, I build brooder boxes, a chicken tractor. I bought waterers and feeders. I spent electricity to keep the chicks warm.
My calculation is that I’ve bought over 2,000 lbs of feed for them. If anything, the number is low. That’s over $400 in feed. Plus, the fuel to get the feed. With all of the above, we’re looking at around $3,000.
We’ve invested about $43 per bird.
Then there’s the time investment. The birds get fed twice a day and watered three times a day. We’ve put a lot of time into handling all of the birds as well.
The birds are worth more than their price per lb. It’s their future that has value to me. They’re going to lay eggs and I’ll sell them. The best of the birds will breed and I’ll sell the chicks. I should get a minimum of five years of production from these birds. But now I have a few less of them.
Thankfully, I have enough birds that the impact wouldn’t be as great as if I only had a dozen. I have about seventy Delawares. About half are hens. I lost two out of about thirty-five hens. That’s a little less than six percent of my hens. Can you imagine if my flock size was a dozen and I lost two out of six? I would have lost thirty-three percent.
What lessons should you bring from this?
Know that you could lose animals this way. Have a plan for if it happens.
Know your local laws.
Raise a few extra chickens so losses won’t impact you badly.