We are down to one rooster, two hens, and seven ducks/drakes.
Our best guess is that our oldest German Shepherd has become an agent in the deliverance of "reparations". The chickens sinned. The chickens must pay. It matters not whether the individual birds are guilty. It is enough that they belong to the order of Galliformes. They are guilty by reason of heredity. I cannot fault him. He is just a dog. Rumor has it that there are actually human beings that think this way.
At this point I will gladly give away the three remaining chickens. Elizabeth???? You have my phone number.
Yes, I know I am responsible for controlling my own dog. It is my own darned fault. I accept that.
It can be very difficult to control a large, intelligent, focused dog. I do not want it any other way.
When researching breeds I was told a story of a 120 pound German Shepherd in the Houston, Tx area who allowed a home intruder to enter 10 feet into the dwelling. At least, that is where trail of carnage started. Evidence of the battle included shattered glass coffee tables, toppled shelving and chairs, chunks of scalp, tattered pieces of denim and ample amounts of hemoglobin-rich fluids sprayed/smeared on most of the dwelling's walls.
The sprayed/smeared fluids were on the walls of all of the "public" rooms and also went into one of the bedrooms. One of the investigating police had K-9 experience. It was his opinion that the dog was playing with the intruder, muscling him around, toying with him like a first string offensive guard tossing around a flyweight defensive scrub.
There were two broken windows. One rather daintily broken window where the intruder came in and one frantically smashed window where the intruder exited.
The dog was wagging his tail and grinning when "Mom and Dad" came home.
The owner believes that his dog was hunting the home intruder. Protector vs. Predator. Protector won. The subdivision where this dog lived enjoyed a remarkable period with no more homes being broken into. Go figure.
I will try chickens again in four years. My kids will be more disciplined regarding clipping the dogs to the run-line before opening the door. Herc will be four years old and may have mellowed regarding reparations. I will have had more time to sort out how to manage a hybrid system of semi-free range chickens and hope to have a secure chicken run to manage a cool-down period should things get bloody again.
Raising chickens is like throwing a sounding-line out into the river. Success means you can steam forward. The occasional sand bar will present itself along the way. The wise pilot will slowdown and allow the current to crab his craft sideways for a bit before edging forward again. The foolish pilot will push the throttles to the stops in the vain hope of powering his way through.
I like to think I am a wise pilot.