We are having coyote troubles again. It seems to come in cycles.
On Sunday evening when we got home after dark, Larry went to shut the chickens in that are in the south field. (We have two chicken coops in two seperate fields). He found a headless chicken body not far from the coop. By morning some critter (weasel, mink, raccoon, coyote?..) had dragged the body to the south fence line of our property, and had eaten considerably more of it. Seems like it had eaten feathers and all, as usually there are clumps of feathers left on the grass, but not this time.
There are certain breeds of dogs that are called Livestock Guardian Dogs. They usually live with their charges, sheep in particular, and are very good at keeping predators away. Akbash, Maremmas, Anatolian Shepherds are all examples. Some farmers use llamas or donkeys to help protect their sheep.
We use Jake. All 38 lbs of red and white border collie. He hasn't been called in to protect the sheep yet, but he is pretty good at letting us know if something is going on with the chickens. He doesn't do this by instinct, we have inadvertantly trained him. When the chickens would cackle an alarm, we would rush out to see what it was all about. Jake associated the cackling with some excitement on our part, and would join in with barking. Now we don't need to be part of it, the chickens cackle, and Jake barks. Some of the time is a 'I've just laid an egg' kind of cackle, but if the chickens cackle in alarm, and Jake barks, we go running. Hmm, I think Jake has US trained now.
The other day I looked out to see Jake barking and running along the fence between the back lawn and the north field of chickens. I run out and let him into the field. He runs to the property line fence, barking frantically. There hanging upside down on the other side of the fence is a coyote. It's foot is caught between two twisted strands of barb wire at the top of the fence. I stand there, still wearing my slippers, and wonder how to deal with it. Thinking maybe I will have to try get something to pry the strands apart. I call Jake off, and as I watch the coyote struggling, I see it's foot ever so gradually slipping, and finally it is free and runs up our neighbour's field.
I notice a bunch of loose feathers on the ground, and when I check on the other side of the fence where the coyote had been, there are more feathers, and a chicken laid there. She is hurt or stunned, but still alive.So we decide to do a quick fix, and raise the fence about a foot and a half. As I wander down to the greenhouse to get the loppers to cut some blackberry vines out of the way, I notice the chickens in the other field are cackling, heads up and looking. When I look, there is a coyote in the field in the other side of their fence. So the dogs and I run down to the fence to scare it off. We get the fence line cleared out and another long length of wire stapled up, so the fence is now about 5 1/2 ft high. Hopefully that will do the trick. Two days later the injured hen is still alive, is eating and drinking, but hasn't moved from her corner of the coop. Time will tell.