Cris, you wanted to know if they provided an answer...
Could it be that they were 'egged on' by their feathered friends?
Perhaps a better question is...
...why didn't the chickens cross the road?
Should I tell them the car is parked?
Do we need a chicken crossing light?
Sadie doesn't seem to care about the hens running loose. They're starting to ignore her, too. And yes, DJan, these are the same chickens that wouldn't go out the door!
As for who cut the hole in the fence? Mr J himself. (Lille, he says the J stands for Jenius,too!) The chickens have scratched their area so much that a lot of the grass is gone. Even though they walk around in their own poop, it seems chickens do not like mud! We let them out to give them plenty of roaming space. They return to their coop at night, like always.
Mr J was worried about Sadie and the cats... What would they do to his chickens? I laughed! "Don't you mean, what will the chickens do to Sadie and the cats?" Sadie does occasionally leap just to make them scatter. She does that to the cats sometimes too. She thinks it's funny.
The cats... Well, the chickens aren't small anymore. Benji is our best hunter. She's responsible for the headless bunnies that show up in the barn. We watched her sneak up on a couple of the hens yesterday. She got within three feet of them... They let out a squawk and flapped their wings at her. She shot off into the woods! I have a video of Squeaky walking up the lane as a hen is walking down. They passed each other without turning their heads!
I guess there's enough room for all. Maybe we should all learn a lesson from them. And the lion shall lie down with the lamb.