Posted by: kathandroger | October 10, 2016

Who killed Norma no mates?

We have lived in France for more than seven years now and have never lost a chicken. It was different in the UK, when a least once a year the fox or the mink attacked our little feathered friends and left us with a carpet of corpses. So it was a surprise when one of our early rising Australian visitors pointed out the piles of feathers on the lawn. Our automatic door opener has been out of action for several weeks, but we didn’t worry too much because of the lack of predators locally and our big surrounding garden wall. But the evidence was clearly there; piles of scattered white feathers and a few bits of bloodied chewed bone. Some of the flock had obviously been spared, and I counted six survivors out of our seven chicks. That in itself is unusual, in the past the whole flock has been killed, but I guess that with the coop door open it would have been easy to pull the nearest bird out.img_3557

Sods law, it was one of the two new chickens that had been murdered. Norma no mates was so called because she did not integrate well with the rest of the flock and was normally found wandering around on her own. She was a lovely Light Sussex, who had come into full lay and gave us an egg daily, and must have been last into the coop and therefor the first out! But who was the murderer?

There were three prime suspects. Charlie Fox, who is less common in France than in the UK, but who we have seen locally, the Fouine, a type of polecat about twice the size of a squirrel, also seen at the bottom of our road, and Brock the badger. Our neighbour had mentioned that she had seen a big dark looking squirrel in her garden, so that was a possibility. Charlie Fox almost always kills all the animals, although it would have been easy to grab just the one. We knew Brock the badger was around because I had seen him in the garden after he had gorged all my prized sweetcorn. But that is at the back of the house, separated by an iron gate. It did not take too much investigation to find that the gate had been left open, my spring loaded door closer being too weak, so it was either Charlie or Brock. I decided to close and secure the gate, and made sure the chicks were closed in the next night. On checking the secured gate….img_3559Not only was it wide open again, but the animal had dug underneath and managed to pull out the newly secured fastenings. It must have been a strong beast, and can only have been Brock. This was further proved by lots of holes in the lawn around the coop where he had been rooting for worms. I guess a few juicy worms is a substitute for a chicken.Anyhow the problem was identified, but how to rectify it? I didn’t want to harm the animal, but did not want my lawn destroyed or the chickens eaten.What did we do before the internet? A quick reference suggested that human urine is not attractive to badgers and they will avoid any tainted area. A bit like the lorry parks on the motorways in the UK which I avoid because of the same smell. The door was closed and fixed again, a sheet of black plastic placed against it, and over the course of the next day it was well doused with my own effluent. The wife is usually supportive in our efforts, but declined because of the dangerous slope perching would have involved.

I am happy to report that Brock has not been back.


  1. Yup, you just can’t stop Badgers with any physical means….
    except, I learn from this… pee!!
    Isn’t it marvelous the uses to which pee can be put!!
    Badger deterent, butterfly attractant and dye mordant… amongst others!!

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