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Cannabals?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

So about 4-5 years ago I got 2 Australops.  They were great layers until just last year.  I kept them for bug control and fertilizer.  So this spring I got 2 red star chicks.  Raised them until they were about 8 weeks old, then put them out with the other 2.  At first I put them all in the coop and the Australops bullied the Red Stars so they hid up in the laying boxes and only came down for food and water when I let the Australops out.  So obviously that wasn't going to work.  We don't have many predators as we are in town, so I figured I'd just let them all free range in the back yard so they didn't invade each others space.  Still, the Australops chased the Red Stars if they got too close.

 

So today my husband sends me a picture of a couple of eggs, and to my surprise the Red Stars had already started laying!  I get home from work and rush to the back yard.  Not only had they laid 2 solid eggs, but I saw evidence of some soft shelled eggs.  So I look for my Red Stars and I see one.  Since they usually stuck to each other like glue I though it was odd.  So I start walking around the yard looking for the other.  I found her.  She was missing her head and was completely gutted.  :(  So being heartbroken, I checked around for tracks but found none.  Then I noticed a trail of feathers from the coop to her final spot.  So I'm wracking my brain trying to think what got her, in the meantime I rounded up all the chickens and put them in the coop.  The Red Star did not want to go into the coop with the other two.  No way no say no how.  But, I forced her.  I no more than walk away and I hear her screaming.  I turn around to see one of the Australops pecking her.  So I quickly let her out.  But then I started thinking, and I went back to look at the dead bird.  Her bones weren't really broken like something had chewed on her, but her body cavity was completely cleaned out.  Could my Australops have done this?  My husband saw all the chickens earlier today, so it would have happened in the last 4 hours.  I didn't know/think that Australops were so territorial?  And if it was them, how do I prevent this in the future?  I plan to go get another Red Star tomorrow after work.

 

Thoughts?

 

Michelle

post #2 of 3

You are dealing with two separate situations.  The first is integration of new birds into the social structure or pecking order.  The second is most likely a predator of some sort.  No way could the older hens have removed the head of the killed bird.  Do an on site search on 'integrating new birds' and pay close attention to your flock.  I am concerned that the predator will return.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
Reply
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

We used to have fox around, but I haven't seen any for a couple years.  There used to be an orange tomcat that hung around the backyard, but he never seemed interested in the birds.  We've seen hawks, but I would think they would have carried her off.  Thank you for the suggestion about integrating the flock.  I will certainly look it up!  In the meantime, I just need to get them put away without the big girls picking on the little girl.

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