3 chicks disappeared at once?!

Flock Leader

Songster
7 Years
May 3, 2012
322
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146
Israel
Yesterday morning, very early, we heard a racket in the yard (every chicken owner's nightmare!). When we got out, we found that 3 chicks are missing - 2 1-month-olds who were still cared for by their mother, and another a bit older, which was hatched in our incubator. They spent the night locked up, but apparently squeezed out through a small hole in the morning before we let all the chickens out. The mother hen was going ballistic and refused to sleep in the same place with her remaining chicks next evening.

So... my question is... what could have taken 3 chicks at once - no traces? Could it be a fox that picked them one by one, until our rooster noticed this and raised an alarm? It was morning, which speaks against foxes IMHO, but then I once caught a fox in my yard at 8 AM. Or could it be a cat? A bird of prey?

These aren't the first lost chicks we had this season (no adults or bigger pullets were lost, though). But it was always only one at a time. This is the first time 3 chicks disappear at once.

Any ideas?
 

Sjisty

Scribe of Brahmalot
12 Years
May 18, 2009
4,252
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Brooksville
We lost 5 week-old chicks overnight in a coop that we thought was predator proof. Not even a feather left. A few days later this guy was in the coop eating eggs, so we figured it was him.

 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
99,907
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SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
You say the chicks squeezed out of the coop......into what....a run?...a wide open yard?

Fox will hunt day or night.....so will other animals.
 
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Triple Willow

Songster
6 Years
Mar 1, 2013
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You think so?.. But how large does a snake have to be to swallow 3 chicks at once?! I know for a fact we have snakes here, I saw some and we had eggs disappear... 

It does sound like a snake to me. They love eggs and chicks. Sometimes they will kill a larger chick or even a grown chicken only to find out that it is too big for them to swallow. Those birds you will find dead with a wet head and neck where the snake swallowed as much as he could then had to spit it back out.

It sounds like to me that the snake may be hid out in your coup because you said the hen was going ballistic and refused to sleep where she had before with the chicks. No doubt if the chicks had got out there would be a lot of predators available to catch and eat them, but it just sounds like a snake to me. They don't have to be real big to eat eggs and baby chicks. Here at my place a 5' rat snake (aka: chicken snake) ate an adult squirrel. That squirrel was well over twice as big around as the snakes head, maybe three times.

The only way to keep them out is to plug all your holes and use hardware cloth (wire) for your fencing. And don't think for a second that they can't climb, you have to cover the top of your run also.

Good luck, hope you catch him and give him a ride down the road to where there is no chickens. Oh, and if you do relocate him, go at least a couple miles away or he will find his way back (which amazes me).
 

Flock Leader

Songster
7 Years
May 3, 2012
322
43
146
Israel
You say the chicks squeezed out of the coop......into what....a run?...a wide open yard?

Fox will hunt day or night.....so will other animals.

Sorry, they squeezed out into the open yard, I should have specified that.

I believe foxes, at least in our area, tend to come out more by night. But I don't exclude this possibility.
 

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