Our current count is 9 hens. We had 10, but something got one of the girls last month. We had no idea what. Whatever it was, it picked the head and neck clean, and got some good chunks of the body. The electric fence wasn’t compromised, and there was no predator inside the perimeter, so we thought maybe it was a hawk that could fly in and out?
A few weeks later, as Mike was closing up the coop, he called for us to come outside and see something. It was a possum, right in the coop! It was just sitting there on the floor of the coop, under the branch where the chickens hop up and roost for the night. Mike pushed it out with the broom, and then we discovered the sucked-out eggs. Our only experience with possums prior to this has been in books (“Um, they sleep upside-down, right?”) or seeing them dead on the side of the road.
We looked up possums and chickens, and it turns out, yes, possums are predators of chickens (apparently known for starting at the head, which helped answer the question behind our mysteriously killed hen). And for eating the eggs. When it left the coop, we saw it climb right up the tree, out of the enclosure, so that’s how it must have gotten in. Things have been fine lately, and we haven’t seen the possum since that night.
Mike jokingly accuses me that all of this poultry drama is my way of plotting for another dog. (I keep telling him that the scent of a dog would be a good predator deterrent, since we had comparatively few issues during our dog years with chickens.) Other good news is that our young hens are laying! We get anywhere from 2-5 eggs per day from our 9 hens.
Our movable electric fence is pretty easy to work with, but it’s a two-person operation, complicated slightly by the rugged terrain and the many trees and shrubs on the property. We rotate the fence location every month or so. Gives the hens new territory to explore, dig up, hop on, and walk around. We got the fence a few months ago after the weekly fox “tax” back in May.
Here are some current chix pix.