This post contains pictures of a dead, half eaten hen. Those of a nervous disposition may want to refrain…
I found a hen dead last night.
At first, I was raging, partly because I had heard a bit of a kerfuffle and not gone to check, and partly because it was a good, healthy Rhode Island Red.
Then, I was confused. A dog would have left a lot more feathers, and the bird would have been much more damaged. The bird was hollow, and all breast meat was stripped. I doubt a cat would have stripped the bones clean and eaten the entire innerds. It might have, but it would have needed to be VERY hungry.
A few folk on Facebook suggested an otter. So, I called my Mum and asked her to describe the bird to my Dad. He phoned back immediately. He’s about 95% certain it was an otter. Looking at the carcass more carefully today, it would have needed a pretty powerful jaw to achieve that level of butchery.
We have sea otters here, protected by law. Sea otters need to clean themselves of salt, and so make regular inland trips to fresh water. I know they are around this end of the island, but am still to see a live one. The hen was just by the outhouse, so not on a regular run, but the fields are flooded, which may have brought them up.
In the next few months, I think I’ll build a big run for the hens. It will both prevent more casualties, and ensure eggs don’t go missing when the hens attempt to lay away in the summer.
You won’t be surprised to read that I closed the hen house door tonight!
I buried the hen today, but not before taking a few pictures. The bird was so hollowed out, I could see daylight through it. What follows is not for those of a nervous disposition. It’s not nice, but it is the reality of keeping poultry.