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So we embarked on a new adventure...chicken keeping. We brought home 2 California Tans, 2 ISA Browns, and 2 Rhode Island Red chicks about 6 weeks ago and introduced our poor dog to them. It went better than expected. He was interested and really loves to watch them, but he quickly learned what was and was not acceptable (you know, like climbing into their brooder, to just LOOK at them...ahem, sure Ralphie.)

The chicks are now out in their grow coop while we finish building their big one, so Ralphie can get a little closer. After the excitement of getting to see the chicks so well wore off and a week had passed, I let Ralphie meet the chickens face to face. They were big enough that his usual greeting of "Poke it With my Snoot" would not harm them. So I let him get close...and it did not go well. For Ralphie. He got pecked right in the eye. Ugh. And here I thought the dog was the biggest threat. He turned around and noped out of there. 馃槀 His eye is fine, by the way.

So now I have a herding dog I was going to try to teach to herd chickens afraid of chickens! If he cannot see a physical barrier between himself and the chickens, he will not get within pecking distance. It is not complete and total fear...but it's a healthy respect. Although I do fear the day when I look up and see a flock of chickens chasing my dog across the yard...so there's that.

Please see below for a poor photo of my husband teasing the chickens with Ralphie looking on in complete horror. The chickens have started to make a borking sound, which Ralphie also finds concerning.

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And here is another photo of Ralphie watching the chickens. This was take about a week before they pecked him in the face. They were much smaller then.

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So far so good. I was expecting at least one casualty by now, but I guess I'm better at avoiding disaster than I thought. We plan on free ranging the chickens most of the time, so Ralphie's daily "patrols" (he moseys around and pees on things) of the property seem to help keep predators at bay, at the very least if the Chicken Herder job doesn't come to fruition!
 

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Well, Ralphie is completely uninterested in herding chickens. So, I'm scrapping my Chicken Herder Dog dreams. Meal worms are more effective for bringing them to the coop anyway. He likes to watch them disapprovingly. The chickens like to sneak up behind him and scare him. Ralphie retaliates by peeing in their water...I soon switched to poultry nipple drinkers to prevent this.

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In the above photo you can see Edith the California White and Cinnamon (or possibly Roll, I can't tell them apart) the ISA Brown playing tricks on poor Ralphie. They snuck behind him and made chicken noises, which Ralphie thought was rude.
 

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This is hilarious! It sounds great that Ralphie has a healthy respect for the chickens.
And that white chicken with some black specks is gorgeous!!
 

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Ha, I was not expecting him to be an all out chicken murderer, but I was also not expecting him to have such a healthy respect and outright disapproval, lol! Sometimes you can see the disgust on his face when he as to walk through the flock of chickens to get to wherever it is he wants to go.

I have also learned that although chickens are flock animals...they don't go where you expect them to go. I think this is slightly disconcerting for a dog that generally likes to control movement.
 

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Maybe this is why people have their dogs herd ducks instead of chickens :LOL:
 

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Ugh, my poor dog. I make him endure such terrible things. Here you can see him suffering through the chickens blocking his view of the yard. I was in the other room and heard him whining, so I thought maybe he had to go outside. This is what I see.

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This is just terrible. His disgust is apparent. Also, they're eating my flowers...

And here is a photo of the main abuser, Edith, who likes to follow Ralphie around and will pick leaves from his tail.

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Of note, Edith is sleeping on one side the tree...and Ralphie was laying on the other watching the new 3 week old chicks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, we had our first predator attack today. Fox, most likely. It took one adult chicken (Edith, the one pictured above, the top hen who I imagine was taking the place of a rooster and defending the flock) and three of my teenagers. I'm actually fairly surprised we've gone 6 months without any sort of accident of that manner.

Although Ralphie is a pathetic chicken herder, he was effective at recovering remains. Foxes tend to kill more than they can eat and then bury what they can't to keep for later. I'm assuming this fox is either very young or weak, as Ralphie successfully sniffed out my lost chickens less than 40 feet from the main attack site and fairly close to our house. I wouldn't have been able to find them without Ralphie. He almost seemed sad as we uncovered each one, but that also might have been because I didn't let him chew on them...

One teenager and five adults remain, all unharmed, just a tad shocked, I imagine. They followed Ralphie and I through the trees as we cleaned up, which was a little morbid. So, now I have experienced my first loss of livestock. Welcome to country life!
 
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