Today, I found myself in a horrible situation of having to call a customer while on holiday with bad news.
One of my customers keeps chickens as pets like I do. However their setup is different to mine. Their coop is in an open part of their garden, surrounded only by an electric fence. The outer coop door is held open permanently by a wire catch. The pop hole automatically opens and closes by a light sensor.
I just go and feed them as and when required. Today when I went to feed them, I spotted the outer door was closed, which never happened before. The strong wind last night must have dislodged the wire catch, causing the door to swing closed. This unfortunately stopped the hens getting into the pop hole and go to bed safely.
It seems during the night while they were locked out, one either somehow escaped the enclosure and was roaming free in the countryside, or a fox had managed to grab it. I did look around the neighbouring area but no sign of it live or dead. No feathers on the ground either suggesting a struggle between a fox and chicken.
There is still a chance of her returning safely on her own, a slim one, but a chance nevertheless. This hen is around 8yrs old, their oldest, and I'm sure her disappearance this will hit the owners hard. Pets are pets, whatever the species.