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Variety of bites--what killed 7 chickens?

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

We had 2 roos and 8 ladies. All free range. Woods near the coop.

 

Here's what we know:

Yesterday afternoon--chased a shepherd from our yard while it was chasing a chicken and seemed super hyped up.

I didn't have time to investigate much at the time and assumed the other chickens had just gone to hide in the thicket in the back of the property like they usually do when threatened.

 

Yesterday early evening--Went to put the chickens in and 5 were missing. 1 dead in the coop. Back end of the chicken missing and an egg half exposed. Feathers all around. Other chickens skittish. More feathers (different missing chicken) found in a clump and a trail starting right near the house (almost two acres from the woods) and going back toward the coop/woods. All our wooden eggs had big teeth marks in them and one was carried several yards from the coop.  [Dog or other predator?]

 

Today--chickens out (because we thought it was just the dog plus spooked birds who were in trees for the night). All 5 that were gone yesterday were still gone today all day. Two more chickens (one roo and one hen) went missing in the afternoon. We found the roo in the woods after a feather trail. The back of the head and neck and some of the breast was eaten. We found two more distinct feather clumps and trails in the same area of woods going toward a huge brush pile but no more carcasses. There were a ton of feathers from both of today's missing birds in the coop and right outside the door too. So, it seems like they may have been trapped and killed there.

 

By tonight, we have 1 roo and 2 ladies left.

 

So, it seems like we had a nearly simultaneous dog attack and wild predator attack yesterday. But we're not sure if the first dead bird in the coop (back end missing) and egg damage was the dog or the wild predator. Obviously, how we approach containment issues with our neighbor's dog in future would be impacted if he was just a tease versus a killer... And we'd like to trap whatever other thing is after the other chickens in the woods.

 

Thoughts?

post #2 of 2

Lots of possibilities here, and no way of knowing without a video replay...but here's my gut guess.

 

Wasn't the dog. Probably a wild predator. Most pet dogs will chase and kill birds but are not prone to eat one let alone go after and keep eating a flock....not the typical dog. When a neighbor dog goes nuts chasing birds, it will kill and leave them dead, but won't eat them. They go from kill to kill without eating....unless they really are left on their own in the backyard, without food and attention, then they can become true predators, especially if they begin to form a pack with other loose dogs...not the usual scenario. (Don't know where you live nor general environment nor neighbor dog).

 

I think it possible the dog interrupted the wild predator which made the dog super hyped up (and he probably also saw a chicken or two to chase in the hyped process). Did you see blood and feathers on the dog? Some shepherds can become livestock killers once they get a taste for blood...so I'm not saying it isn't possible...just not what most BYC keepers are living next to and not typically what I've experienced...except for the rare one who gets a taste for it (which means this wasn't his first foray into your, or someone else's coop.)

 

So I think you've likely got a wild critter...which wild critter...4 legged kind, on the ground vs. not air borne (hawk or owl).

 

A raccoon is my first guess, as they like to create a lot of carnage while they are at it, with possibly some of the mink/otters and the variety. Skunk will also tear up birds and try to eat eggs. Coyotes will carry off and eat elsewhere.

 

Check for prints in the area. Look for the dog prints and compare to others, if you can.

 

Locking the birds up tight now with some live catch traps out might be in order.

 

My thoughts. I look forward to seeing ideas of others.

 

LofMc


Edited by Lady of McCamley - 2/6/16 at 4:27pm
Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
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Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
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