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Author Topic: The night-time masacre of our poor ducks  (Read 3299 times)
Cindi
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« on: November 14, 2007, 09:46:13 AM »

Sunday night came the storm, power off and on, and Monday, power gone for over 24 hours.  Gone too is 10 of our ducks.  Some hideous monster ripped through the chicken wire that surrounds three sides of the duck pen and killed 10 of the 12 ducks that were tucked safely into bed that night.  The fourth side is wooden, it is beside the "new chicken" house.

No idea what this nasty creature was, but it ripped open a hole about 18 inches by 18 inches, came in and killed all but 2 of the ducks.  One duck is not there, the others simply dead, one had its head chewed off.

This was a sad day.  My Sister had gone to let the ducks and chickens out, to find this bloody mess.  Gone is our big Muscovey Drake, Big Boy, he was a beauty, and was raised by my Neice in their home until he was old enough to go outside himself, so he was very friendly.  Gone are the Indian Runners and Rouens, and their adult babies, and several other Muscovey hens.  Sad, ruthless and needless.

We still have 8 young Muscoveys left.  They were incubated by the incubator, so they are very human friendly.  There was 2 Muscovey hens left, they will be our breeding stock, but is was a hard blow, it made me cry an awful lot.  These were my babies, I loved the Muscovey ducks so much, I will miss their quiet little hissey sounds that they make.  I will miss the sound of the male Indian runner, his kind of peeping sound, and I will miss the funny little Rouens that turn their heads sideways, pointing to the ground and make funny sounds as they walk along.

There will be more.  We will buy more of the Indian Runners and Rouens, I loved to watch them, and of course more Muscoveys are in the growing stages and are beautiful.

So many lessons learned in our lives.  We thought that these birds were safe in their homes, but very obviously, mere chicken wire is nothing compared to the strong claws of an animal that wants to get in and murder.   So with each lesson, we become more knowledgeable, and work harder to keep everything safe and sound.

I have no clue what got in, I suspect it was a racoon, they are ferocious, I know that.  I have heard them when they fought in the tree in our yard one night years ago.  I thought for surely that there was a monster in the trees that morning (hee, hee). 

In retrospect, it is too bad a couple of weeks ago that we took 14 mature Moscoveys to the slaughterhouse for our freezer.  But......still, that is OK, there is nothing on earth like the Muscovey for the meat duck, drakes average about 5-6 pounds, almost little or no fat when you cook them, and it makes the most beautiful gravy, far better even than the dark meat on turkeys, yeah!!!!  Have a wonderful and beautiful day, great health wishes to all.  Cindi

This is Big Boy, and the third picture is Big Boy's Girl, he had a favourite hen, she was always hanging out really close to him.







This pictures shows 2 geese and Big Boy's offspring.  The death house is at the end of the buildings, you can't see it because it is set back a bit from the front of these structures. 

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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 09:59:36 AM »

Did you check for tracks?
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 12:36:53 PM »

I can understand you being upset by this. We have lost chickens to dogs before and have racoons, skunks, mink etc nearby that are always a concern. However, if you keep animals, you have to recognize and understand animal behavior and how their presence will affect the behavior of animals being animals. Calling this "murder" and where it happened the "death house" is overly dramatic. These are not terms that apply to animals who are simply being animals.

I understand your hurt and frustration. But, if we are to live the lifestyle we are choosing and not being sheltered from food production as most of North America is, then we have to have the correct mind set about these issues.

I am sorry for your loss.
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Cindi
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2007, 09:29:15 PM »

Thomashton, you have taken my words far too literally, they were not intended to cause a "dramatic" spin on the death of these ducks, but to liven up a little story.  I am truly fully aware of how animals behave, all animals require food, all have a place on this earth.  Thank you for your empathy towards my loss, we learn lessons by our errors, and I am learning today, tomorrow and to then.  Have a wonderful and great day, enjoy our life we live.  Cindi
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2007, 11:53:08 PM »

>>One duck is not there, the others simply dead, one had its head chewed off.

Sounds like a weasel or a martin.  The eating of the head is the main clue, the second is that 1 was carried off.  A weasel will get into a killing frenzy at close quarters and kill just about everything.  They like the head best, so that's the 1st thing they eat.  I would say that it killed and ate the head of the 1 and then went on a killing spree was the ducks became more excited.  In the end it carried off the last one it killed for a mid-night snack.  A wolverine is another that kills like that as do most of the members of the weasel family--but I've never heard of a wolverine in the PNW.

Better shore up the fencing & electrify it...it will be back now that it's found a good food source.
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2007, 07:51:43 AM »

Ripped an 18x18inch hole through chicken wire?  I think the only thing that could do that is a weasel with a WIRE-CUTTER!!!

Unless your chicken wire is different from my chicken wire.

Once in a while we would have a weasel get a chicken or duck.  There would be just one dead chicken with no head.  No massacre, no blood, no head, very disconcerting.  Wolves are scary, but I'm just glad weasels aren't bigger.

-rick
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2007, 08:49:26 AM »

Actually, from what I've read, chicken wire isn't all that strong, raccoons, weasels, etc. can rip through it.  Welded wire is what's been recommended, that's what I'll use for my run this spring when I build it.

Cindi, that's just awful, poor duckies!  Cry
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2007, 11:54:08 AM »

Hey Cindi,

Just as a matter of curiosity .......

Where were your dogs during all this? I'd have thought the ducks would have made a big enuf fuss to alert them? (maybe??)

One day I will be in a position to keep birds so all the learning I can do would be an asset.

I'm familiar w/chicken wire and it barely keeps birds contained.

What I was thinking was more on the lines of collecting used chain link fencing that is in our 'shopper' classified ads newspaper from time to time and then digging about 2-3ft into ground w/a trencher. and if added height is needed then chicken wire, or maybe better stucco wire above.

We have all the hunters you mentioned as well as coyote's but a few dogs keep most at bay if outside. Was even thinking putting the dog house(s) next to coop when finally do it.

cheers

peter
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2007, 01:00:07 PM »

Thomashton, you have taken my words far too literally, they were not intended to cause a "dramatic" spin on the death of these ducks, but to liven up a little story.  I am truly fully aware of how animals behave, all animals require food, all have a place on this earth.  Thank you for your empathy towards my loss, we learn lessons by our errors, and I am learning today, tomorrow and to then.  Have a wonderful and great day, enjoy our life we live.  Cindi

That sounds more like you Cindi! I have been a full time lurker and occassional poster here since 2004 and I have found your wisdom and experience to be spot on and practical. Sorry I mistook your dramatic writing for dramatic emotion, and again, I'm sorry for you loss of the ducks. I have two big muscovy drakes that I have my eye on this winter for the table. I would hate for a weasel to get his hands on them, my geese, chickens, Thanksgiving turkey, or any of my animals first.
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Cindi
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2007, 08:52:35 PM »

Thomashton, heee, hee, that is me for surely.

Peter, I think that I need to define in-depth the areas that we have contained for our farmy type birdies.  This may be a little convoluted, but I am compelled,  rolleyes Smiley Wink Smiley to tell this tale. 

The chicken/duck pens are quite a long ways off from our house.  I could not throw a ball there, even with the powerful arms that I have (hee, hee).  It is probably about a 60 second walk (is that far?  I don't know, I actually have never timed it).  But I know in the dark nights of winter, it seems to take so much longer to walk way out back there  I can see from my house these barns, but not all the areas where the chickens habit, only parts.  Sad  All the dogs that we have are house dogs.  They are large dogs, and Pittbulls, which are quite small, all are strong and during the day patrol our property like they were kings of this castle.  These dogs do not have the roam of the property at night, because they sleep in our houses.  We do not have any outside sleeping dogs, hence, no guarding of the chicken areas by these beasts.

We have several areas where we keep the fowl, all are fenced, some of the fences are dug underground at least two feet into the pens.  It is hoping that nothing will be able to dig under and get through.  One of these areas has a 6 foot high fence made of livestock wire, very strong, very much like stucco wire, above that, going up about 6 feet is chicken wire fencing.  If something were to attempt to climb this chicken wire wall extension, it would be difficult because it is very "wavy".  These are the areas that surround the "sleeping rooms".  And where the fowl are turned out to into the daytime.  There are three very large areas that are completely fenced from each other, and very safe.  The night time rooms (except for the one room that had the ducks die in) have wooden walls, they are very secure and I have my doubts that anything would try to chew through.  One of these large rooms was where we kept our hay when we kept horses.  This is where the some odd 50 new chickens and the young ducks are housed.  In this room my sister has strengthened the wooden walls with chicken wire from the bottom right up to the top, it is extremely safe, and I feel comfortable of this safety.

The other sleeping room for our chickens that we have had a couple of years is 100% safe as well.  It has very thick wooden walls.

All our birds are closed up at night and allowed out in the morning (of course).

The end room that the ducks had been housed in was poorly constructed.  I have to admit that, and I do wonder, now in retrospect, how on earth some vermin has not found out that there was so many weak points in the walls of this room.  Only one side had a wooden wall, it borders the chicken house.  The other three walls were only made of chicken wire.  Kind of dumb on our part.  This end room borders the deep and dark bush.  We live in an area that has such dense underbrush that it is at times even hard to trudge through it because of the blackberrry thickets, salmon berry bushes and all the other thick undergrowth that is so common of our rain forest.

I wonder if this paints a picture of what the area we keep our fowl in is clear.  It doesn't sound that clear to me, but then I am the one ramblin'.

I did look for tracks, but could see none, we have very mushy ground around our place, mucky is more like it and anything stepping around in wintertime would not leave tracks, but muck holes with their feet.

Our thought is to not use this furthermost structure for any kind of birds, we need an extra room for bedding and food storage for the birds so it will be cleaned out and converted.  It is dry, that is a good thing.  Have a wonderful and beautiful day on this great earth.  Cindi

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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2008, 05:32:10 PM »

  This falls in my back yard. I do animal damage control work for a living. That big of a hole in chicken wire, in your area, with multiple kills and only one missing adds up to one main suspect.
  If you have neighbors I would suspect a medium sized to large dog. Multiple kills like you describe are a canine habit. They bite and shake, or worry, their prey, and torn off heads and wings are common. The second most likely would be a coyote.
  Both have the size and strength to pull apart the wire, and once inside to kill the birds. A large Weasel is roughly a foot long and can fit through a hole the size of an orange. A Fisher or Martin 2 to 3 times that size on average.
  The 18 inch hole rules them out. 
  Sorry for the loss.
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Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2008, 09:05:02 AM »

  This falls in my back yard. I do animal damage control work for a living. That big of a hole in chicken wire, in your area, with multiple kills and only one missing adds up to one main suspect.
  If you have neighbors I would suspect a medium sized to large dog. Multiple kills like you describe are a canine habit. They bite and shake, or worry, their prey, and torn off heads and wings are common. The second most likely would be a coyote.
  Both have the size and strength to pull apart the wire, and once inside to kill the birds. A large Weasel is roughly a foot long and can fit through a hole the size of an orange. A Fisher or Martin 2 to 3 times that size on average.
  The 18 inch hole rules them out.

Wayne, this post of yours is nice to see.  You have expertise on this subject, and I believe you.  I am sure that you have seen many many events of damage control in your travels with your work.

This offering of advice you have given makes 100% complete sense.  We live among coyotes here, I hear them every night and we see them frequently during the daytime on our property.  They are an evil presence that we just to plain and simply be aware of and (holy carumbua!!!!  a big ant just walked across my laptop keyboard, where the devil did that come from!!!!!, freak me out!!!!) just live with.  I know that they stalk the chicken coops.  The dogs let me know that when they are outside and so do the roosters.  You can be your bottom dollar when Roquefort makes that shrill rooster call that sounds like he is screaming, that there is a coyote that he can see lurking somewhere around.  At this moment the chickenyard becomes silent.  All one can hear is his high-pitched scream.  I think this is a clear warning sound, and it is eerie and scares me.

Ooops, where was I?  I bet Wayne, that you see some pretty gorry sights in your field of work.  Yich.  Have a wonderful and greatest of days, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 10:53:23 AM »

Sorry Cindi
I have been doing  Animal Damage Control for 15 years now and agree with wayne.  I also have some first hand knowledge of this kind of thing because I lost 25 chickens last year to dogs.  Its been stated that chicken wire is easily broke into by most any animal. Welded wire will keep the bigger guys out but it has to be covered or coon will just climb over. Weasles will enter through very small hole so the best bet is to do as I do Lock them up inside at night
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Cindi
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2008, 11:02:13 AM »

Danno, right, our chickens and ducks too are locked up just after darkness falls.  During the daytime they have some pretty good fencing too that keeps out the wild things.  We have an air horn that my Sister keeps at her house, because she lives farthest back on our property.  I have only heard her blow this thing off twice in the past couple of months.  This seems to have really scared the coyotes away.  She is a nosey parker and is always (with 7 kids) cleaning house and cooking so she keeps a pretty good eye on the back property.  These coyotes have guts.  I see them frequently just outside of our main fenced yard, walking to the ravine from, well, it must be our driveway.  The dogs see them too and put them on the run.  Now I figure if I see this so often in broad daylight, what goes on at night?  Hmmm.....thank goodness the chickenyard critters are so safely tucked in now with supreme barriers that nothing could possibly get in, ever.....period.  Yea!!!  That makes me feel happy.  Have a great day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2008, 04:11:03 PM »

there should be some other signs. Scat, fur left on the fence, prints, somehting. You just have to look closely and youll find the clues.
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2008, 11:22:14 PM »

Konasdad, this happened around the middle of November.  I have done nothing to the pen to alter any clues in there.  I am going to go and have a look at where the predator got in, maybe there is some evidence there  Wink Smiley  Great night, beautiful day.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2008, 12:40:52 AM »

I'm thinking dogs too.  I lost 6 rabbits last year from the neighbors dogs..dug under my fence & ripped the cage apart.  Something killed Mr. Muscovy too, he was 13 & could catch bread when you tossed it like a dog. I'm thinking that was a weasel or racoon.  I love the muscovys, the hissing/cahaha & head movents.  He was very tame & would follow me all over begging for treats.  I'm sorry for your loss, I always feel awful when an animal in my care is killed cause most of the time it's something I either did, or didn't do. I'm now ready to SSS if I catch the dogs in the yard again as I have talked with the owners & the dogs still bother the neighbors rabbits & lurk about at night....
Jody
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Cindi
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2008, 08:07:01 AM »

Jody, I feel for your loss of Mr. Muscovey too.  I believe we have a right to protect our livestock, if you have a killer dog around and you have warned the neighbours, well then.....

I didn't realize the Muscoveys lived for so long.  Oh, poor Big Boy, he could have had such a beautiful and long life.  I still do miss him an awful lot too, when I think of him it brings great sadness.  He was like a great pet too, so friendly and so tame, just like your Mr. Muscovey was.  I thank goodness that we have two of his progeny left.  They are the two ducks that survived and they are doing well.  They would be over one year old now.  They are pretty and carry on his beautiful colours.  We also have two of his progeny that were had been hatched out from his lines.  They, as babies had been in the bigger barn with the other young Muscovies, so we have four of his lines.  He sired some very interesting and beautiful colours.  The other eggs that we incubated (of which we have kept one drake and there were two hens) are what they called "pied".  They all look almost identical and are black and white.  Beautiful still.  We had incubated eggs from Big Boy and some that the man who sold us the incubator had given us.  May sound a little confusing, but we have altogether:

2 one year old Muscovey hens
3 (almost four month old) hens
1 drake

We should have some nice mixed up colours because of Big Boys' genes in there.  I was amazed at the colours that were thrown from his lines, beautiful.  Have an awesome and wonderful day.  Cindi

These are the two survivors of the massacre, one year old ducks



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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2008, 11:40:59 AM »

Ahh, they are beautiful. I didn't know how long-lived they were either!  We got him as an adult when my daugher was 5, she is going on 21 now, we lost him last year hmmm, that makes him more then 13..I'm awful at math & anything mechanical but give me anything alive...... I was also amazed at the colors & patterns Mr. Muscovy threw.I had forgotten that the Muxcovy's could perch!!..Mr. Muscovy just waddled around in his later years. he musta been 20lbs..very surprising as we with birds are used to them not being as heavy as they look! Good luck with your incubating.  I love looking at your pics.  I may get another if I get my fencing done!
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« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2008, 12:45:51 PM »

Jody, get the fencing done.  The Muscoveys are the most beautiful of the duck species, I love them, you need to get some more.

The drake that we have is maturing very quickly.  It has only been in the past week or so that he has started that all too familiar hissing sound they make.  Before that, he made a peeping sound, like a baby chick.  It was such a wimpy sound for such a big bird, I am so glad that he has his adult voice now.  Now I can't wait for his face to get that beautiful red with all the carnuckle bumps, that is gorgeous.  I love the sound the ducks make too, they have such a sweet little voice, so depictive of females (hee, hee).  Have an awesome day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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