An unpleasant subject, but one I’ve been hearing a lot about, lately: Chickens being killed by free roaming dogs.
First, let me say I am very sorry for anyone’s loss of chickens to dogs or other predators. But, the fact is dogs are the number one killer (after people, of course) of chickens. Here in Alaska we have to worry about dogs, fox, mink, ermine, owls, eagles, bears, and other wild animals (not to mention people).
The reality is an animal is either a predator or prey. By keeping chickens, you are choosing to keep prey animals outdoors surrounded by various predators. It can be a challenge. Are you up for that?
I hear folks getting so upset at the dog owner who lets their Fido run loose. While I agree that irresponsible pet owners are the lowest life form on this planet (ask me how I really feel), you cannot change human nature. There will always be irresponsible people nearby, no matter where you live. You can beat your head against the wall trying to change them, or you can outsmart them.
Dogs have always been—and always will be—the number one predator of chickens. You aren’t going to change that, no matter how much you complain or how many loose dogs you shoot. More will just come. So, you have two choices:
1. Accept there will be losses, and live with it.
2. Construct a home for your outdoor prey animals which a dog (or other predator) cannot get in to. Depending upon your individual situation, this might mean electric fencing or netting surrounding dog-impermeable fences. You may need motion sensors activating light or noise. You may need to rethink whether it is safe to let your chickens free range where a dog (or other predator) could get at them, or accept the risk you are taking by letting them do so.
As a dog owner, myself, I have come in contact with ill-manored dogs who encouraged very negative thoughts within me. And I blamed the dog, though we all know there is an irresponsible person behind that dog who deserves the blame. The fact remains there are as many different dogs out there as there are people. Once you accept that they aren’t going to go away, you’ve won half the battle. The other half is devising a way to protect your prey animals that you choose to keep outside. Prevention is key.
Our chickens bring us such joy—they deserve preventative measures to ensure their safety. Happy chicken keeping to one and all!