I just lost my two EEs last night/this morning (Frieda and Rosalita). They were only about 11 weeks old. I raised them in the house from chickhood because I have an ISA (Consuela), RIR (Maria) and black sexlink (Benita) that are around 2yo and are jerks to each other when cooped up, so I had to put them in their dog crate outside in the run about 2 weeks ago to get the ball rolling.
My coop is attached to a pole barn and secure, off the ground with a run attached. The run is completely enclosed with mesh & wire- sides and top- with rocks along the bottom to discourage digging. It's good sized- 15 x 20? There's a chicken door from the coop to the run that swings up to open. It came with the house; we didn't build it.
So far it's served us well.
The EEs were in a large dog crate inside, then we put them out in the run to introduce everyone to everyone. We free range the older girls when we are home. The little girls were scared of the big girls once we set them loose a week ago and Benita chased them, but then the big girls kind of ignored them and the little girls stayed out of their way.
The cage is covered with a dark blanket and some siding on top for when it rains. My husband took two rocks from the perimeter to keep the siding from blowing off the top. We made sure there weren't any giant holes in the perimeter because of this.
I've been leaving the cage door cracked so the girls can come out when they want to since I can't get out there at the crack of dawn for them. The coop doorway to the run is left open also so the big girls can come outside and not peck each other due to boredom (they are kind of jerks like that).
Now that the scene has been set: I let the big girls out this morning into the yard, cleaned, grabbed the one egg and saw "they" ate the whole yogurt cup I had left for them the night before. I went out to check on the EEs and didn't see them- lately they had been coming out but hiding from the other girls behind their cage or in the corner or wherever.
I walked around to the run door calling them- sometimes they'll still be in the cage but I'll hear them talking- I didn't- I didn't see them anywhere- saw a clump of feathers by the cage and thought they finally got picked on badly by the big mean b!tches, but then I didn't see them when I looked in their cage, didn't see them anywhere around the cage- started double checking the run and didn't see them anywhere.
Then I noticed all the feathers- all along the perimeter, many in the corners, then I saw Frieda's head by the door into the coop. Just the head- no neck- just her poor little head. I turned and saw a leg- no meat on it but it was both portions of the leg with some feathers. And then I saw what looked like what may be an entrail in front of the cage (I thought it was a worm at first), and then the most feathers were in a spot where we had taken a rock and the fence was only lifted about two inches- if at all.
I looked outside the coop and there were some feathers, but I couldn't find any sign of Rosalita.
There were some "baby" feathers in the coop, but the EEs never went in there as far as I know. This was the weekend I was going to encourage them to start going into the coop so they can be with the big girls and get out of that cage (for JUST.THIS.REASON.)
What would do that? What would carry off an 11 week old EE, rip the head and leg off another (or both- I don't know who's leg it belonged to) and take her body too, and possibly slip out under the fence? Not try to get to the bigger girls, AND would eat the yogurt in the dish? I'm pretty sure the girls didn't eat it all in one sitting. And there was a chunk of dried mud in the bowl from outside.
I'm thinking maybe raccoon, but there is a cat hanging around, AND I'm in Michigan and was just reading up on weasels.