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Bits & Pieces: A heartbreaking loss

Ann Welch ann4plus1@yahoo.com
Ann Welch ann4plus1@yahoo.com

Recently we suffered a wrenching loss in our family of pets. Our flock of ten ducks and one lone little chicken were all killed by an unknown predator except for 1 duck, which I found standing alone in a pan of water.. All around her were the bodies of the others, strewn from 1 end of the pen to the other. All of them were chewed round the neck and head, with no other parts of the body apparently affected. It looked like the results of a killing spree, since the birds were not chewed. We think perhaps a passing weasel was the culprit, although some people I talked to about it said that rats also will kill poultry. I had seen rats in the pen but never thought of them as being a threat to my birds. But whether it was rats or a weasel, my birds are gone and I will miss them greatly. A young lady nearby who has 2 ducks the same breed as my surviving duck was willing to offer my survivor a new home. Hopefully she will do well in a new home . I knew if I kept her she would meet the same fate as the other ducks. Ducks are social birds and she wouldn’t have been happy on her own so I hope she will adjust to her new group.

I carry a very large sense of guilt and regret about loosing my birds. We thought we had a secure pen for them which would be predator-safe, We had a house for them where we shut them in at night inside a fenced pen. At the end of the summer we got into the habit of letting them sleep outside the house but inside the pen, because of the heat. Possibly this was why rats or weasel(s) were able to kill them. I guess we won’t know what killed them but having heard about weasels killing more than they need to survive, I expect a weasel wandering through sensed and took advantage of his chance to go on a killing spree. It’ s hard to imagine such a cute-looking creature being capable of such vicious behavior.

If you’ve had experience with rats or weasels killing poultry, please let me know. I’d like to know what the weasel population is in our area, and if rats do in fact kill poultry. After this experience my poultry keeping days are done. It would be just too painful to go through this again. I will really miss my birds. They were beautiful, funny, and always interesting.

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