I am putting together a few recent symptoms, and coming to the conclusion that I may have a predator problem. I was hoping that folks here could give me their thoughts. Here are the symptoms:
1. Over the last few weeks, I occasionally see one of the hens with some feather missing. One was near her breast bone. Just last night it was another with a bare spot on the side of her neck. In both these cases no flesh wounds, just looks like someone grabbed a bunch of feathers and pulled them out. The one with the neck spot is the top of the pecking order, so seems unlikely hers was due to other hens.
2. The other morning I found an egg outside the coup, broken and the inners eaten out (no liquid egg remains there as would be if it was just dropped and broken).
3. Egg production has dropped off recently too.
4. And not sure if this is related, but again recently if I leave the feeder out over night, it seems to get emptied. So perhaps a predator who is willing to eat feed as well as chickens/eggs.
At first, when it was just the hen with the bare spot on her breast, I wrote it off to the hens picking on her. The egg outside the coop I put off to maybe we dropped an egg on the way back to the house at first. But now with the top hen missing feathers on the side of her neck, I am coming to the conclusion that there is a predator involved here.
The hens are closed in the coup at night with their door shut and latched, and we have not found the door opened in the AM, so whatever is doing these attacks during the day or early evening before the door gets closed.
I don't see any tunnels under the coup area fence (chain link 6' high). So I am thinking some rodent who can slip thru the holes in the fence (rat or weasel).
There is an electric fence wire that runs along the top of the fence, meant to keep climbing predators out. I need to check that it still is working right.
What do folks think? What animal(s) are likely behind these attacks? And how might I best go about trapping this critter?
Edited by Steve777 - 4/24/16 at 3:21pm