Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A not so happy feathery start to the day

Went to feed the animals this morning (as per normal, before I head off to work). Only to find a trail of black feathers from one of the shed dorrs to the water tank. Follwed by the appearance of two very pleased looking dogs!

We have recently introduced 4 of our 5 Old English Game cross pullets to the 'normal' chicken run, along with 3 (slightly younger, but now larger) Rhode Island Red crosses. We hatched these ladies (along with 4 males- still separated) from the Old English Game rooster I accidently bought at auction back in May.
Having happily incubated the eggs and raised the chicks. I had completely forgotten how athletic and agile (and completely frustrating) thier father had been. We had hoped that they would have inherited some of the size from thier various mothers (Australorp, Sussex, though I think some maybe Wellsumer- not a big bird)... but no such luck.
As a breed Old English Games are fantastic free range birds, if you want them to scratch for food, roost in trees and generally fend for themselves.
Personally I have 2 "poultry loving" dogs (as dinner, that is). Therefore whilst my birds, happily have free run of the rear garden when we are home (as the dogs a out the front, or inside) and have a large run during the day. Unfortunately these young pullets feel the area for the general population is not good enough for them, and continuously seek the free run of the front yard.
To date the dogs have been relatively good with them. The birds have been calm and have even followed them around. Ffion (our staffy) generally only get excited when they flap or run.
But this morning appeared to have been the massacre we had thoght inevitable. Matt had threatened to eat them himself, rather than them see the fate of becoming the dogs dinner- though neither would be pleasant, I know which would be worse.

Anyway our 'pup' seemed very interested in the far corner. So I investigated further, to find one of the colourful EOG birds trapped between the 2 layers of fencing. Clearly distressed and a few ruffled feathers, but seemingly OK. Now I would have thought the dogs could have gotten her from there, instead he proudly showed me wht they had done?
I freed the bird and returned her to the rest of the flock; checking her over (just in case). She immediately spreang to her feet and followed to the enclosure for thier normal feed.

I ten counted 2 or the 4 birds, both black ones were missing... I now feared the trail may have been 2 different crime sites.

Returning to my duties, with a heavy heart. I secured the dogs out, without thier usual treat. And set about feeding my remaining flock and pigs. As I left the shed to tend to the younger chicks (in the totally inclosed run) there was a ruffled looking black OEG pullet, happily helping herself through the fence.... So they only had one!

To my surprise, as I set off, reversing my car out to head off to work, there was the last bird; wandering around the yard, looking to return to the main (feeding) flock. Not a feather out of place!

So I assisted her over the high fence and happily left for the office. Feeling slightly guilty for thinking so badly of my gorgeous puppies. Who had obviously had some fun with then birds, but not actually committed the crimes I instantly assumed they were guilty of.

Hopefully now the young birds will have learned thier lesson, and stay with the main flock, and realise that the fences are their for thier own protection.