1 Hen per night found decapitated in coop with no signs of predator...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by SobreZaltana, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. SobreZaltana

    SobreZaltana New Egg

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    Dec 13, 2010
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    The last two nights in a row, we've found a single hen (two total) decapitated, laying in the middle of our coop. There is no sign of predator entry that we can tell. Is there any chance the roster is doing this? We have a 12x12 coop and only about 16 birds, one rooster.

    We live in Colorado, if that matters, and we're finding the heads in the coop, so whatever it is isn't even taking the heads.

    Any ideas or insight would be helpful!
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    ...I don't think I've ever heard of a roo being that brutal, but I have seen people on here say that a weasel or mink can get through a 1" hole.....................Sorry for your loss, and Welcome to BYC
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  3. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Could be a possum.
     
  4. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    I think a possum would eat them, and they don't usually start at the head.

    Sounds more like a weasel of some sort to me, drinking the blood.

    You could try setting a large rat trap covered with a box with a small entrance hole and baited with some raw bloody meat from one of the carcasses
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    My guess is weasel.
     
  6. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You've probably got a weasel--someplace you have an opening that is a half an inch or larger that it is using for entry. Get a live trap and use the head for bait. Eventually it will take a couple of birds at a time then work over your whole flock.
     
  7. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Possibly a weasel, but it is somewhat unusual for a weasel in a henhouse to kill only one bird. Usually, mustelids will go into a killing frenzy and make multiple kills.
     
  8. SobreZaltana

    SobreZaltana New Egg

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    Dec 13, 2010
    Colorado
    I'm thinking it may be a great horned owl. We had a small opening at the very top of the coop, but counted it out when we couldn't find any paw prints in the dust leading up to it. After examining the coop again last night, I found a GHO perched up on top of one of the telephone poles. We strung some wire across the opening, and didn't loose a bird last night, thankfully!
    If we loose anymore, I'll consider weasel and try some of the suggestions mentioned.
    Thanks for everyone's input!
     
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Removal of the head is a signature attack of the GHO, but generally they then eat the head and brains. Once had one get into my pigeon loft. (My fault, left the bobs unsecured.) I released it and closed the trap and bobs. All winter long I would see the owl on the loft trying to find a way in. They are formidable killing machines and as formidable as any predator.
     
  10. SobreZaltana

    SobreZaltana New Egg

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    Dec 13, 2010
    Colorado
    Are you allowed to shoot them? I'm unsure of whether or not they are protected. I'm concerned now that he's found us that it's going to be an issue. We usually put our young birds out in a chain link fence area, inside the larger fenced in chicken pen in the spring as they start to get older. We've never had any issues with attacks from above! Obviously, this will now be a problem. I'm also concerned about him deciding to hunt earlier in the morning or evening and picking them off before they get locked in the coop.

    We originally started with them on free range all day every day, but then we had coyote issues... locked them up, and then had a skunk issue (thankfully, we took him out, but only after he got into the coop and took out 4 birds).

    I'd really like to be able to have them on free range all the time... we're looking to expand the flock a bit this spring, and also do a large flock of turkeys and meat birds. I'm looking for the most reliable means of protection for them outside of a fence. I've been told that a protection dog would work, so that's top on my list at this point. Someone also suggested a guard lama... but I can't find too much info on going that route.
    I've yet to invest in traps for the coyotes, and they're hard to spot in time to shoot them!

    Any additional insight would be helpful!
    Thanks!
     

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