Sunday morning when I went out to check on the gardens, I heard a commotion coming from the chickenyard. I hurried over to check it out and found a beagle attacking the hens. I tried to catch the dog, but it escaped.
He and two others had been hanging around our farm for several days. We caught one of them a few days ago and called the phone number on his collar, but it wasn’t a working number. Later Cherie tried to catch them to take them to the dog pound, which would be able to trace them to their owner using the tag number on the collars. But they were too shy and/or frightened to be caught.
Saturday night I knew something had scared and scattered our chickens, because they weren’t coming home to roost as normal. I found one hen trying to get into a tree quite a ways from the henhouse. I caught her and took her home. But I knew several were missing as I closed up the henhouse for the night and shut the gate. I assumed that a hawk had attacked, since that’s how they behave right after that happens.
It didn’t cross my mind that the lost beagles might have attacked them.
We’ve had stray dogs kill chickens before. Dogs which are not properly disciplined will kill chickens for fun. They grab them and shake them violently, breaking their necks. A couple of years ago stray dogs killed many of chickens this way.
But I’ve never known a beagle to attack a chicken. So why did these? Because they were extremely hungry.
Unfortunately, where we live some hunters use packs to beagles to hunt deer. It’s a lazy way to hunt and I detest it. They’ll release the beagles, who will pick up a trail and chase the deer. The “hunters” ride up and down the road in their pickup trucks, listening for the sound of the dogs, and waiting for an opportunity to shoot the deer from the side of the road. The so-called hunters sit in the comfort of their truck cabs, often drinking beer. The dogs of course can’t respect Posted signs and chase the deer across farms and private property. Most of these “hunters” have no land of their own, and have no respect for the rights of those who do. They are a menace, as some will fire across pastures and fields with no idea what lies behind them, endangering livestock, responsible still hunters and anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the crossfire. To motivate the dogs these “hunters” keep them half-starved.
So with hunting season approaching, someone who lives a few miles down the road had released his beagles to let them run deer. Evidently they trailed a deer across the creek, which then became swollen after we had a lot of rain recently, and they weren’t able to figure out how to get back home.
After a few days wandering around here, they must have gotten so hungry that they started killing our chickens. Being beagles, they didn’t know how to quickly kill the chickens. That made for a sad horrible ending for the one hen I found. The dog had been carrying her, and trying to bite into her. She was a Cochin and her thick feathers protected her. The dog had barely broken her skin when I found her, but she’d been badly injured internally. When I approached the dog he dropped her, but she died not long afterward.
I hate it when we lose chickens to predators. It is our duty to protect them, and this time we failed.
I don’t yet know how many we lost. The owner of the dogs came and got them, once we figured out who it was. He was genuinely sorry for what happened, but this kind of thing will happen as long as this inhumane and unnatural method of hunting continues.