Thank you all for the suggestions. I am planning on adding a hardware cloth apron around the coop in the spring time, I just can't do it now. There is too much snow and the ground is frozen.
Originally Posted by sourland
Get a box trap, trap the predator, and leave the birds locked up until you have been successful. It will return. Good luck.
No luck with the trap so far. I've seen new tracks around the coop, but no sign that whatever is leaving them is trying to get back into the run. The birds have remained locked up in the coop until I get home from work, then they get a couple hours out before nightfall. Not ideal at all, but I guess it is my only choice for now.
Originally Posted by chickencoop789
chicken without a head? sounds like a mink. theyre small animals compared to other predators so itll be difficult to find tracks. theyre able to slip into tight spaces and drag chickens around, but wont take the whole carcass with them. itll be back so youll have to trap it. before you fill in the gap where it slipped in, I suggest putting a #160 duke conibear trap blocking the hole. only costs about $10. this trap is an instant kill trap, so once the animal sticks his head through the hole, itll snap him dead. no chance he will be getting to your birds. the #110 size will be enough to catch a mink, but just in case its something larger I would get the #160, which will kill the mink as well as any coon or possum that try to sneak through the gap
I had wondered if it might be a mink. The gap is very small, and I didn't actually think a raccoon could fit through it. But I know raccoons live on my property, and the tracks around the coop and the manner of the kill seemed to suggest a raccoon. I'm not ruling anything out though. I don't really have the experience to know anything for sure. I've ordered one of the conibear traps. I patched the gap the day I found the dead hen, but it's not a good patch, so I'll see about removing it when the trap arrives.
I've been keeping chickens for 3 years now. They free range all day spring through fall. I've never lost one to a predator before. I've always assumed that one day I would, but I never expected it to happen while they were locked up in there 'safe' coop and run.