Sunday, September 12, 2010

The ongoing predator problem.

The good news is we have lost no more animals this past week. The turkeys look great fattening nicely and the males are strutting their stuff for the females. Puffing up those feathers and walking around like the true birds they are. I got say though, these birds are a gas to watch.
The birds are contained in a large dog kennel now that is moved around so the droppings don't fall in the same place and they can have fresh forage each day. They receive a high protein anti-biotic free feed and they eat a lot, on top of the forage.
In comparison the chickens get about 16-18% protein along with free ranging for bugs and plants. They also receive extra light in the form of a light inside the house at night on a timer, in order to get them to lay eggs. When the sunlight drops below 12 hours they stop laying. The turkeys on the other hand need at least 20% protein and will not willing eat the same mix the chickens eat. They have a real affection for leaves that drop from the trees though. They will actually fight over falling leaves. Which I find fascinating, since typically this occurs in the fall and we as a population eat these birds at Thanksgiving and at Christmas.

The predator problem persists, last night the coyotes where out and you could hear them at the edge of the woods behind the house. Our greatest problem has been by far the raccoons. They climbed the cage and got in by pushing back the mesh on the top of the cage and once they had killed a bird/turkey they where then not easily dissuaded from returning.
The turkeys now have a large wooden house that latches shut at night. It is not safe to leave them in anything other than a closed house with a latch after dark. The raccoons seem quite resourceful and I have visions of them plotting as a group. They know how to use tools and are willing to take a rock and beat the daylights out the chicken pen roof until the nails come out. So it is no surprise they seem able to get through most of what we have tried.

When they couldn't get to the turkeys last week, they took to killing the ducks. So both the ducks are now gone. First we lost one duck and Larry caught it in the act. He was not able to get a shot off before the raccoon had drug the animal through the back of the fence and killed it. This was so sad for the remaining duck since they mate for life.
Mr. Duck looked for close to a week for his mate before he committed suicide by going under the chicken house and refusing to come out at dark. We would normally pen up the ducks, but he left us a note about not wanting to go on with out his love-mate and a bunch of existential crap about life's meaning. So when we tried to find him the next morning it was clear he had sacrificed himself to the raccoon gods. And they willing accepted his sacrifice.