Chickens are an amazing addition to our family, but they have brought a host of other learning opportunities for our children aside from learning how chickens live. The concept of predators is one of those examples, and one that is visually available for the children quite frequently.
When we first got chickens, I worried mostly about the neighborhood cats preying on them. That fear was quickly put to rest when my chickens matured and started charging at cats when they got near, effectively scaring the cats off. We still have to watch out for hawks, however, and I have run outside to scare off a hawk that was on its third swoop down, and just feet off the ground.
This has been a very real experience for the children. They understand that lions, for example, eat other animals. Just hearing about it on a show or reading about it in a book is very different than trying to protect your own animal from becoming another animal’s dinner. They have started asking questions about all sorts of animals to see what might be a danger to our hens and what might not.
Living in the city limits, however, comes with more of these learning opportunities than anticipated. We had someone come up to our door a few days back to let us know his dog got loose, chased a cat, saw our chickens and went for one of them instead. There were feathers everywhere, but I saw no blood. He said the chicken walked away, so he thinks she might be okay, but I had to explain to the children what happened.
The hen only had minor puncture wounds (and quite a few feather-bare spots). It really could have been so much worse. Thankfully the owner was actively chasing the dog before the dog got to our chickens. From the looks of it, he probably grabbed the dog as soon as the dog successfully grabbed our chicken, forcing the dog to release her. The result was puncture wounds exactly at the teeth, but no tears along the skin.
At the time of this writing, our hen was back outside with the rest of our flock, and not at all intimidated by her experience… which she had proven by instantly flying out of her safe area (fenced in, but not covered) as soon as she was put back outside.
TO BE CONTINUED