Something is taking the chickens

Our “fluffies” (silkie bantams) have been taking a beating lately.

We lost three hens in recent weeks, perhaps to the heat.  Two of the remaining hens went clucky, but had only a few eggs between them.

One of the hens is half-heartedly sitting on some guineafowl eggs we picked up at the last Goulburn Poultry Auction.

The other one had four little chickens, tiny little things.  However, things then started going astray.

Manu (a French wwoofer) found three little chickens outside the front door of the chook house.  Obviously they squeezed out under the entry door, but why would they go so far from their mum?  And one was gone, perhaps taken by a bird?

A couple of days later, we were down to two chicks, with no sign of the other.

We are now wondering whether we might have a snake, heading into the chookhouse every couple of days in search of a snack.  And I wonder whether some of the dead hens were not defending the flock against the snake, and perhaps we even had one or two more chicks hatched originally that we didn’t even see.

Allison moved the remaining two adult fluffies (not counting guineafowl girl) and the two chicks.  She put them in with the peacocks, a risky manoeuvre but it seems to be working.  The peacocks were quite bemused by their new cell-mates, and little Rooster Rufio stood up to the male peacock in their pecking order dispute.  All seems calm now.

What to do about the snake?  Usually we are content to let them be, as they run away from us in the fields.  Inside the house paddock, there is a low chance that a human will be injured, but a fairly high risk that Cara the dog might be killed.  Or other poultry, perhaps even a horse though that is less likely.

Snakes in Australia are protected by law, and many of the injuries that occur do so while a human is trying to kill a snake.  We could call the volunteer wildlife rescue people to move it, but they can only help if we can get the snake bailed up somewhere.  In practice, people do get rid of troublesome snakes, and I’ve never heard of anyone being prosecuted in such an instance.

We will consult with our neighbours.