Since finishing the perimeter fencing I have not (knock on wood) had a problem with coyotes so I have started leaving the pop hatch open and the chickens can leave the coop when they want every morning. Usually that means that the chickens are behind the house or out at the animal pens when I go out to feed. However, since they know that I stop at the chicken coop on my way to the barn to throw layer pellets, when the chickens see me come out of the house they usually start running to the chicken coop ahead of me. Every morning I count chickens just to make sure I’m not losing chickens to predators. In the last three weeks I’ve often been short one hen. Initially it was every other day that my count was one off and then it seemed I was off one chicken for several days in a row. Losing hens when you free-range is not unexpected so I figured the hen had indeed been picked up by a predator or otherwise gotten herself in trouble. While I briefly considered that she might be sitting on a clutch, I discarded that idea pretty quickly as in all the years I’ve owned chickens and with all the different breeds I’ve owned, I have never had a hen go broody. Years ago I had a Rio Grande Wild Turkey hen sit on a clutch of chicken eggs and hatch out seven chicks. She later lost her life to a coyote protecting “her” chicks. But I’ve never had a hen sit on a clutch of eggs.
So this morning when I counted chickens and came up with nineteen, I counted again. Sure enough the hen was back and she had brought along two new additions with her.