I hate roost mites. Roost mites (or chicken mites, or red mites) are nearly invisible blood-suckers that are transmitted to chickens by wild birds. They multiply like crazy in warm weather. They bother the chickens and can even kill them under the right circumstances. And I hate that creepy-crawly feeling! Ewww! Get ’em off me! Humans are a non-target species, but still … yuck!
We found a couple of additional game trails with telltale feathers here and there, showing that chickens had been taken that way by predators, and we set some more snares. So far we’ve caught a large raccoon in addition to the previously reported bobcat, and predation seems to be down.
I should mention that I learned predator control partly from the local Federal trapper (courtesy of the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Damage Program), partly from the instructional DVD that came with the Dakotaline Snare Package I bought to get myself started with my own snaring, and partly from Hal Sullivan’s excellent book, Snaring 2000
I recently fell into the free-range chicken farmer’s nightmare: missing hens. A few scatterings of feathers where hens had been nabbed, but obviously a lot more hens are missing than that.
Couldn’t happen at a worse time — during the upswing of the farmer’s market season. Demand for free-range eggs is increasing and I have a sharply reduced supply of hens, and therefore eggs.
A lot of the biggest problems we’ve ever had on the farm were related to unwanted critters trying to get at the chicken feed. Recently, we put some pullets into a pasture house and put a feeder inside the house with them as part of the transition. Since this was an open-front house, the local crows started coming in for lunch, which scared the pullets. Moving the feeder outside didn’t get rid of the crows, but there’s a lot more room outdoors, and their occasional presence didn’t terrorize the pullets.
[Edit: Never mind. This batch was a bunch of “Fast Cornish” broilers, which isn’t what we ordered. The real “Slow Cornish” have been far too slow-growing for us, and we have reverted to the faster-growing birds.
Lesson learned: if you tell the hatchery that it’s okay for them to make substitutions, always look at the shipping invoice to see what they actually sent you!