Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Demise of Daphne

McGee (Front Left) and Daphne (Back Right)

Ryan’s Garden is minus one helper.

I was greeted with a heart stopping sight this morning when approaching the allotment.  As I parked the car I noticed that the chicken coop roof was half open.  In a blink of an eye I had that sick feeling, you know; that feeling you get when something you have invested time, love and energy into is, in a single blow, dashed, tarnished and broken beyond repair.

I navigated the gate and entered the plot with the reassuring sound of chickens in the distance, which saw my panic reduce slightly.  Other plot holders were going about their business unaware that all was not right.  A few even greeted me in my hasty approach; I grunted a rushed hello in return.  I rushed to the coop like some bumbling idiot where my worst fear was confirmed.  There were only two chickens to be seen and Daphne was missing.

After carefully researching, planning and building what appeared to be a entirely secured coop and run I had come undone.  I had accounted for predators, pests and hygiene and I didn’t think for a second that in such a sheltered spot the wind would be able to raise the heavy roof.  Whatever happened, whether it was human or nature itself, something had lifted the hinged coop roof open allowing just enough room for my Speckledy hen to make good her escape.  There were signs that she had been scratching and hanging around the coop this morning and to make things worse the egg she had laid was still warm.  I managed to find a few feathers nearby that may indicate she was taken by a predator (probably an hour or so before I arrived) and on my return to the plot at dusk there were no signs that she was coming home to roost.

I guess I’ll mark this one down to experience for now and look at finding my two remaining girls a couple of new friends come the Spring.  I guess you cannot be too vigilant when caring for hens?


  1. Oh no, poor Daphne!! I didn't realise u kept them on the allotment, a lot don't allow any livestock at all. Poor little hen :(

  2. Ryan I'm sorry. It's hard to lose any of your flock. Perhaps she is still in the neighborhood? There is a chicken here that will run blocks when it gets out and eventually someone will bring it home.

  3. Poor Daphne, most probably a fox, we had quite a few taken when we first started keeping hens and we had all our ducks taken too :-( so upsetting but it would have been a quick death which is little consolation.

  4. Sorry to hear about Daphne. I think I wouldnt be able to have chickens unless they were in my garden

  5. Oh, I just found your site, and I'm so sorry about Daphne. My daughter is chicken obsessed, and we're planning to get a few in the spring--but I truly fear for them, as we have dogs and we live in a forest. I told her we can't get them unless we can keep them safe. I truly hope you find Daphne safe and sound.

  6. How upsetting! Maybe she's still in the area. In case she had 'help' getting out, get a lock for the roof to keep it shut in your absence. I hope she returns.

  7. Thank you all for your comments and advice. This is my first Chicken loss and I'm determined that it doesn't happen again.

    Geoff: Yes, our allotment is quite small and informal so I guess I'm lucky in that respect. I had to submit a request to keep poultry also but it is in the allotment spirit and I'm sure you would be able to contest it with the committee if you wanted to do so? We're also quite secluded and well protected with and established forest as a windbreak, large gates and cctv covering one entry.

    Kat: Hi Kat. Unfortunately I found a small area with quite a few feathers in it as though she had been pounced upon but saying that there is every chance she was scared or escaped. I pop in twice a day so if she is around I'm sure she'll here me calling. I spent about two hours there yesterday but no sign of her unfortunately. Thanks for your optimism :)

    PatientGardener: They are great pets. Unfortunately I don't have room in my garden for hens but my allotment is literally a minute from my house and quite secure so it's perfect for me. If you do get the opportunity to keep a few you really should they are so rewarding.

    Janet: Hi Janet. The roof is the only part I didn't put a lock on. All other entrances have locks, the coop and run is bolted down and it is also completely enclosed in weldmesh so that predators cannot get in. The particular coop design is very discreet in making the hinged roof look like a standard fixed roof and I overlooked this thinking that thieves or vandals would not know. It has been remedied now!

  8. oh how sad Ryan, you must be devastated, you poor thing, don't blame yourself, it was an unfortunate accident.

  9. That's horrible. Hope you're OK

  10. i lost my 2 girls last night, - probably to a fox, - will live and learn and secure it for the next lot, as i've loved having them, so will be getting more.

  11. Thanks all. Am feeling okay about it now and I have two new pullets on order for the spring.

    Claire: I'm so sorry to hear about your girls. How did the fox get in? Hope you're okay? :)


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