Saturday, July 30, 2011

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Last night I was on Facebook, lamenting the fact that I couldn't lock up the chickens until the doe in the chicken run had left. Presumably through the open gate she'd come in through.
She was eating chicken food.
I was afraid if I approached the run, that she'd blast into the fence instead of using the gate. Deer tend to fun first and ask questions later. I didn't want to risk her getting tangled and injured in the fencing.
I went out about 10pm and she was gone. So was the chicken food.
She'd come in and gone out through the gate.
Or so I thought.

I don't let my chickens out to free range until about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. What that means is, the gate to the chicken run is closed until then. Only their coop door is open
This picture was taken at 9am.
How'd that (same) doe get in there?!
Eating chicken food again, as you can see.

I know deer can jump. Straight up. I've seen the bucks do it. They clear fences without a look back.
I've never seen a doe do it.
Evidently, this one can do it with style.
The fence is 4ft. tall.
The only place she could jump it and not bang her head on a tree branch is on the backside of the run. The trouble is, that spot is downhill and on very unstable footing (years of leaf litter and grass clippings).
She's not only jumping in, she's jumping out as well.
All for some tasteless chicken food.

Why?
Because her natural food sources are drying up.
Deer don't eat grasses. They eat what's called browse (leaves, shoots, twigs, woody vines). They also eat forbs (weeds and broadleaf plants).
We don't have a lot of either thing around here right now.
No rain equals no plant growth.

So what's a deer to do?
Risk life and limb by purposely jumping into an enclosed space to eat chicken food.
I just hope she times each jump perfectly. Otherwise the results could be awful for her and for my fencing.

10 comments:

  1. I just found your blog through On the Way to Critter Farm... I love it! So glad to have found you, and the deer story was grand. We have an 8 foot high fence, and a raccoon came over it with ease this week...and got a chicken! I'll join and love to follow along.

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  2. Ohhhhh :-( This is just so sad. And concerning. Don't like it at all.
    At first, I thought this story was heading in the direction of the deer having bed down with the chickens in their coop, but then to read that it jumped straight up and out is an amazing feat.
    Your one chicken next to her/him doesn't really seemed fazed by its presence.

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  3. That is amazing and sad in so many ways. Survival of the fittest takes some strange turns when Nature get out of balance. Although this weird weather is beyond control I'm sure hoping Texas weather gets a little wetter and cooler SOON!

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  4. Can you leave a small amount of chicken food on the ground outside the pen, to encourage the doe to stay out? Or maybe water some of that area, so something does grow up? Not sure which is better - just thought maybe trying to encourage her to stay out might be helpful.

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  5. We have the same deer. The young ones, apparently, are playing with the goats according to my husband. They're eating the mineral block too. I do like the photo of the doe in the chicken pen though! ;-)

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  6. That is so sad that a deer is reduced to eating chicken feed just to survive. Sure hope she doesn't hurt herself trying to get into your chicken coop.

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  7. Hi Mary Ann, Welcome! Raccoons are champion climbers. I'm sorry you lost a chicken!

    Danni, no, the chickens share space with the deer when they free-range in the evenings. They compete for 'snacks'. The deer always win.

    Leenie, Unfortunately, the weatherfolk don't see any relief in sight.

    Autumn, I feed the deer every morning and most evenings. This doe just feels she should have "extra" snacks in addition to what I feed. I think she likes chicken food, too. :)

    I think deer will 'play' with just about critter that will play back. :) I never thought about buying a mineral block for the herd. Tractor Supply, here I come.

    Linda, no worries about chicken food being all she has to eat. I feed them. She just likes having what the others aren't brave enough to go after.

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  8. She sure is a pretty girl. We occasionally have deer jump the fence we have around the house, and the chickens scratch and peck right along side them. Your deer are sure happy they found you, I'm sure!

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  9. She looks very thin also. We have deer food at our feed store here. We also have deer that live and eat in our corn fields and in the alfalfa...want to send yours up?

    Praying for rain for you and the whole south!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

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  10. I just can't get over how bad things are for you - I'm so sorry. Hunger definitely calls for desperate measures... poor deer. Definitely praying for rain for you.

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