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Digital Subscriptions > Chickens > Chickens 101 > DOMESTIC AND FERAL DOGS

DOMESTIC AND FERAL DOGS

Dogs are responsible for more chicken injuries and deaths than any other predator species.

Domestic dogs account for the majority of backyard chicken losses. They are often the most overlooked predator because of their status as pets. Any dog, no matter its size, may pose a threat to chickens. Please note that this does not mean all dogs do pose a threat. In fact, there are many individual dogs and various breeds that make fabulous livestock guardians.

Other than these few trustworthy canines, exercise precaution around new or unfamiliar dogs, whether they have a great reputation or not. Domestic dogs with a high prey drive will kill for sport; feral dogs, on the other hand, are more likely to consume their prey. Many dogs that attack chickens do so out of play, rather than with the intention to kill. There are also some dogs that will chase chickens relentlessly, forcing them into dangerous situations, causing injury, heart attack and/or death without meaning to.

CALLING CARD

Domesticated dogs will often strike during the day. Dogs usually continue their killing spree until all of the birds in a flock are dead; however, you may find some that have survived a dog attack. These birds will likely be fatally wounded and should be humanely dispatched as quickly as possible. Since many dogs that attack chickens kill for sport, the telltale signs of a canine presence can be pretty clear:

► Most, if not all, of the chickens dead or fatally injured.

► Bodies scattered around the enclosure haphazardly.

► Chickens with broken necks.

► A very big mess: Blood and feathers everywhere. Surviving chickens may have large puncture wounds, broken legs or wings, or skin pulled off.

► Chickens mauled but not eaten.

► Torn fencing where the dog has gained access.

► Holes dug under fencing where the dog has gained access.

► Whole eggs missing or empty shells in and around the nests.

If a dog attacks your flock, it’s important to remember a few things. First, it is not the dog’s fault. The dog was simply acting on instinct.

As the flock’s keeper, it’s your responsibility to keep your birds safe. It’s the dog owner’s responsibility to monitor his or her pets and keep them on leash or in their own yard or home. If the attack occurs by another person’s dog, rather than your own, report the incident to your municipality’s animal control department. While rules vary from city to city, the dog’s owner is likely responsible for reimbursing the cost of your lost birds, damaged fencing, and other financial losses you may have incurred.

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Chickens 101, The Essential Guide to Raising Chicks, 15 best breeds for Beginners, Nutrition for all Life Stages, And More......