Employees at a farm in Newton are “reeling” after approximately two dozen chickens went missing from the sprawling property this week, probably because of an attack by a wild animal.
In an e-mail to members of its Community Supported Agriculture — or CSA — program Wednesday morning, Greg Maslowe, farm manager at Newton Community Farm, said earlier this week that someone or something took four or five chickens from the farm, leaving behind a flurry of feathers.
On Wednesday, after a colleague reported seeing more feathers in the chickens’ run, Maslowe went into the coop to investigate, he wrote, only to “discover to our horror” that it was void of its roughly 20 other chickens, “taken in one night!”
“All that we have left of our beautiful flock are 4 of my older hens who still roost by themselves in the little gray coop,” Maslowe wrote in the e-mail, which was forwarded to the Globe. “It’s a sad, sad day on the farm.”
Maslowe told CSA members that he’s only experienced “something like this once before in all my years raising chickens.”
“Quite a few years ago now, before the barn had been renovated, we raised the chicks in an enclosure in the upstairs of the barn,” he wrote. “I came in one morning to discover that all 25 chicks had been killed by a weasel. We’ve always had some predation — I guess that’s part of raising animals. But having your entire flock taken in one night leaves you feeling numb.”
In a follow-up telephone interview Wednesday afternoon, Karyn Novakowski, the farm’s executive director, said employees had ruled out the possibility that a human snatched the flock.
The Newton Community Farm, a nonprofit, is surrounded by woods on all sides, she said, and a small hole was discovered under the fence on the backside of the chicken coop, indicating it was most likely a wild animal, or animals.
“These things can happen on a farm, but it has never happened on this magnitude,” Novakowski said. “We are reeling, we are shocked. But at the same time, this is part of life with the chickens.”
She said the loss of the chickens will have no effect on CSA members or farmstand customers who get eggs from the farm because the eggs they sell come from another farm.
However, the sudden disappearance could negatively affect the children who sign up for the organization’s “farm camp” activities during the summer.
“Part of the camp is kids doing chicken chores,” she said. “They love interacting with the chickens, and that’s really the place where we are going to see the highest impact.”
On Friday, the farm had posted a picture of a camper holding one of the chickens to social media, along with the caption, “Farm camp perk — cuddling a chicken.”
Novakowski said the farm’s next steps are to repair any damage that was caused to the actual building and fence, and make sure the remaining chickens are safe and secure.
As for now, the farm has no plans to replace the chickens that were lost.
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We're sad to report that last night an animal got into our coop and took all but four of our chickens. It appears that the animal dug a hole under the fence. We are fixing the hole and securing the space for the rest of the chickens. Unfortunately, this type of thing happens on a farm, although it has never happened to this degree on our farm.