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Decimated flock - Page 4

post #31 of 36

I'm so glad to hear that your hen is ok!! What a wonderful find! :woot

 

You mentioned earlier that she had went missing before nightfall. Was she spooked and just lucky she got away from the predator? That would mean the predator hit later in the day.

 

I'm not sure that the skunks are your culprit. :/

150+ chickens: Ameraucana, Icelandic, EE, OE, Crele & Silver Duckwing OEGB, Silkies, Barred Rock, 1 Button Quail
A bunch 'o guinea fowl.
19 rabbits, 3 dogs, 8 cats, 2 budgies, 2 llamas, Katahdin sheep, cattle and a leopard Appaloosa.

"Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you."
- Jackson Brown
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150+ chickens: Ameraucana, Icelandic, EE, OE, Crele & Silver Duckwing OEGB, Silkies, Barred Rock, 1 Button Quail
A bunch 'o guinea fowl.
19 rabbits, 3 dogs, 8 cats, 2 budgies, 2 llamas, Katahdin sheep, cattle and a leopard Appaloosa.

"Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you."
- Jackson Brown
Reply
post #32 of 36
Thread Starter 

Well when she disappeared it was right before dusk.  It wasn't dark yet but it was getting that way quick.  I have caught a skunk in that pen once before when my electric fence was turned off and I didn't realize it.  I ran inside to grab a shotgun and it was gone in less than a minute with no trace of where it went.  So I know those things are quick and I'm not done setting traps around the pen in hopes of catching something else.  I'd feel a lot better if I found a coon in one of the traps soon.

post #33 of 36


Oh, definitely sounds like raccoons...they kill for fun and bite off the heads....I have a long standing hatred of raccoons from living in the city in the midwest- they were constantly trying to get into my locked cat door enclosure in our garage. They actually were able to learn how to open the door by turning the two knobs simultaneously.  I trapped dozens over about 5 years...

 

So here in the foothills of northern California,  I lost quite a few guineas to the raccoons who apparently worked as a team to scare  the birds to one side of their dog kennel coop reinforced with poultry wire and the other coon grabbed a head and bit it off.  So my first incident was 8 dead guinea hens- my whole first flock....horrible.  Now it has been about 18 months since I have lost any chickens or guineas at night.   I put up hot wire fencing around the dog kennel coops  and then I discovered NiteGuard solar predator lights and those 2 systems are working for us!   Every friend I have told about these lights has been thrilled...they are on the internet, cost about $20 each and  you can speak with the family (they invented these lights that flash like a predator's eye to protect their game farm bird in Minnesota).  You need enough to surround your coop, placed at the eye level of your predators ( here in the foothills of Northern California my list includes coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, mountain lions and black bears).  I am primarily concerned with raccoons and coyotes.  I doubt any type of coop or system could save them from bobcats, mountain lions or black bears.  Our vet's trail cam revealed a bobcat peeling back one corner of a dog kennel coop and going in and out till 35 chickens were taken and buried in one night for example.

 

One other incident we encountered- summer of 2014 the guineas began to roost about 30' up into the fairly dense oak trees. I had no chickens yet. This went on without incident for several weeks but we sleep with our sliding door open to our bedroom.  One night there was a terrible guinea screaming. We jumped up, grabbed flashlights and guns and ran out onto our deck.  Just as I stopped to try to locate the screaming guinea, a huge owl swooped a few feet in front of me- it had at least a 6 foot wingspan, then it's partner flew past.  Horned owls.  We spent the entire night picking up our guineas off the ground ( they are night blind and just cower on the ground after being knocked out of the tree) and were able to save the whole flock.  Once in awhile, a naughty guinea gets into a tree and if we can't convince it with an extending pole to come down, I grab a NiteGuard light or two ( I have extra)  and point them skyward under the tree of the foolish  guinea.  Has worked so far...we also have golden eagles (also huge nocturnal predators) so our lives revolve around getting our 6 guineas and 7 chickens to bed before sunset...( my birds now have separate coops that are connected because the guineas were not allowing the chickens to roost on the poles so they were roosting in their nest boxes and making a big poopie mess...plus my very old guinea girl has developed a strong love of fresh eggs- so the chickens don't get out of their coop till they lay their eggs now. Behavior Modification. )  This whole poultry keeping certainly does provide abundant problem solving opportunities, right?  I can't believe I have allowed myself to become enslaved by a flock of birds with no brains.

 

Anyway, I can guarantee you will never eliminate raccoons unless you have access to a coon hound and like to hunt at night. They are very smart and dextrous and nasty and overabundant.  When they see another coon in a trap, that is a learning experience.    Make sure there are no sources of food  (cat, dog, grain, bird feeders, citrus, even a dirty grill or the grease catching pan)  and protect your poultry with 2 systems is my best advice.  

 

FYI There is no such thing as "rehoming" a raccoon- they are so prevalent they will just starve if you drop them off elsewhere.  Plus how would you like to have people dropping off their problem raccoons in your area?  

post #34 of 36
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your advice. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by escapepodowner View Post
 


Oh, definitely sounds like raccoons...they kill for fun and bite off the heads....I have a long standing hatred of raccoons from living in the city in the midwest- they were constantly trying to get into my locked cat door enclosure in our garage. They actually were able to learn how to open the door by turning the two knobs simultaneously.  I trapped dozens over about 5 years...

 

So here in the foothills of northern California,  I lost quite a few guineas to the raccoons who apparently worked as a team to scare  the birds to one side of their dog kennel coop reinforced with poultry wire and the other coon grabbed a head and bit it off.  So my first incident was 8 dead guinea hens- my whole first flock....horrible.  Now it has been about 18 months since I have lost any chickens or guineas at night.   I put up hot wire fencing around the dog kennel coops  and then I discovered NiteGuard solar predator lights and those 2 systems are working for us!   Every friend I have told about these lights has been thrilled...they are on the internet, cost about $20 each and  you can speak with the family (they invented these lights that flash like a predator's eye to protect their game farm bird in Minnesota).  You need enough to surround your coop, placed at the eye level of your predators ( here in the foothills of Northern California my list includes coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, mountain lions and black bears).  I am primarily concerned with raccoons and coyotes.  I doubt any type of coop or system could save them from bobcats, mountain lions or black bears.  Our vet's trail cam revealed a bobcat peeling back one corner of a dog kennel coop and going in and out till 35 chickens were taken and buried in one night for example.

 

One other incident we encountered- summer of 2014 the guineas began to roost about 30' up into the fairly dense oak trees. I had no chickens yet. This went on without incident for several weeks but we sleep with our sliding door open to our bedroom.  One night there was a terrible guinea screaming. We jumped up, grabbed flashlights and guns and ran out onto our deck.  Just as I stopped to try to locate the screaming guinea, a huge owl swooped a few feet in front of me- it had at least a 6 foot wingspan, then it's partner flew past.  Horned owls.  We spent the entire night picking up our guineas off the ground ( they are night blind and just cower on the ground after being knocked out of the tree) and were able to save the whole flock.  Once in awhile, a naughty guinea gets into a tree and if we can't convince it with an extending pole to come down, I grab a NiteGuard light or two ( I have extra)  and point them skyward under the tree of the foolish  guinea.  Has worked so far...we also have golden eagles (also huge nocturnal predators) so our lives revolve around getting our 6 guineas and 7 chickens to bed before sunset...( my birds now have separate coops that are connected because the guineas were not allowing the chickens to roost on the poles so they were roosting in their nest boxes and making a big poopie mess...plus my very old guinea girl has developed a strong love of fresh eggs- so the chickens don't get out of their coop till they lay their eggs now. Behavior Modification. )  This whole poultry keeping certainly does provide abundant problem solving opportunities, right?  I can't believe I have allowed myself to become enslaved by a flock of birds with no brains.

 

Anyway, I can guarantee you will never eliminate raccoons unless you have access to a coon hound and like to hunt at night. They are very smart and dextrous and nasty and overabundant.  When they see another coon in a trap, that is a learning experience.    Make sure there are no sources of food  (cat, dog, grain, bird feeders, citrus, even a dirty grill or the grease catching pan)  and protect your poultry with 2 systems is my best advice.  

 

FYI There is no such thing as "rehoming" a raccoon- they are so prevalent they will just starve if you drop them off elsewhere.  Plus how would you like to have people dropping off their problem raccoons in your area?  

 

 

Thanks for all your advice.  First off I don't believe in rehoming predators like coons unless that home is 6 feet under.  I know I'll probably get some flak for that but I don't care.  I have put in countless hours raising and taking care of my birds that I despise anything that comes in to destroy that work.  As soon as the weather perks up a bit I'm going to start building a new coop and making sure this one is predator proof.  Maybe I should invest in some automated defense turrets armed with .50 HE rounds.

post #35 of 36
I for one appreciate you not "rehoming" predators. I live in the country and really don't want people dumping off their problem animals out here where they are likely to die of starvation or be killed or run off by bigger, meaner members of their species. Skunks will eat the heads as will numerous other predators. It doesn't really matter what is getting them so much as how they're getting gotten.

Chickens off and on for 25+ years and still learning.

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Chickens off and on for 25+ years and still learning.

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post #36 of 36

Skunks eat chickens.  But on the other hand chickens will definitely eat skunks, as I have found out.

 

Something to think about.  People always say that a predator will come back.  They will but each and every time that any predatory animal finds a meal at your coop,pen,or run, that meal serves as reward training for that animal to return and do it all over again.  Its like teaching a dog to sit.

Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
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Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
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