Because of the threat of hawk attack, the remaining 6 layers and the rooster have been confined to their coop. They’re not happy about it, and when you think about, it makes total sense. Even if they had witnessed a hawk attack on a flock-mate, they probably don’t remember it now. All they know is that they’re stuck in their nighttime quarters and they’d rather be outside, scratching, running around, and doing their chicken thing.
In researching how others had resolved issues with hawks attacking chickens, a couple of posters had indicated that some states issue depredation permits. It sounded sketchy to us, so we reached out to the KY Fish & Wildlife agency about the predation – they advised that all hawks are federally protected in KY under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and that killing a hawk is a federal offense. The agency helpfully recommended that we keep the chickens confined for a few days so that the hawk would lose interest (good to know we were already on the right track!). Kudos to KY Fish & Wildlife, too – they are very responsive and genuinely seem to want to help citizens who are losing livestock due to predation (within the parameters of applicable law, of course).
T-storms are forecast for today, and the chickens tend to get soaked in the rain, so it’s not entirely bad that they’re stuck indoors. The ducks, who seem to stay out of trouble, are out enjoying the general muddiness — it’s pretty funny to see them walking around with their bills coated in mud. Ducks need enough water, at a minimum, to be able to clear out their nares (nostrils), so their rubber tub is filled in the morning, the afternoon, and one last time in the evening. Only one duck will fit in the tub at a time, so they patiently wait their turn. We may need to change to just a bucket in the evening, though, because they go into their coop wet and the straw gets damp. Dampness, even for ducks, isn’t good because it can encourage growth of fungus, like aspergillus, which can cause a respiratory disease called aspergillosis. Keeping their coop’s straw dry helps prevent mold or fungal growth. Plus, it gets pretty poopy in there and no one wants mucky eggs.
The Muscovy duck eggs continue to incubate and we’re still hoping at least some will hatch, despite the odds. Maybe all 7 will hatch and then we’ll need to build a bigger duck coop!