6 hens, 2 khakis DEAD!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by chckncpl, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. chckncpl

    chckncpl New Egg

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    Nov 29, 2016
    My wife went out to the chicken coop/ranging area this morning only to find our 6 hens and 2 khaki campbells dead and laying all over our fenced in range area. (This range area is about 40x15 and is fenced in by 3in X 1in welded wire at 4 feet tall.). We live in Chesapeake County in SE Virginia and i know of certain predators that are around, however, i am stumped as to what may have done this. I am seeking whatever thoughts anyone has so i can try to figure what might have done this. Here are the details and what i was able to find upon inspection.....

    The two ducks and 5 of the hens all had wounds to the neck, upper breast and some blood from under the wings of one of the ducks. The wounds were consistent for the most part and looked like small, red/pinkish dots. Many of them did not look like the broke the skin. Additionally, the chickens all seemed to be laying on top of their heads like their necks were tucked under them. Now, with this consistency i thought it would be easy to find what might have done this, until i found the 6th bird ripped apart. The 6th bird's wings were torn off and about 6 feet from the existing remains. Also, all the intestines, upper breast area and neck/head were nowhere to be found. Only the legs, and small amount of rear were left (of course the wings were elsewhere) . The last thing i have been thinking about is that i had not seen any duck eggs in the last week and no evidence of where they were going. All the chicken eggs in the coop were present though and easily accessible. So, with that, i would appreciate any thoughts any of you have so i can understand what to look out for next time. Thanks, Steve
     
  2. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, I'm so sorry. [​IMG] When I was first reading I immediately thought "raccoon" because they have caused so much destruction to my birds. But your description of the wounds and the fact the eggs are missing makes me think mink or weasel.
     
  3. chckncpl

    chckncpl New Egg

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    Nov 29, 2016
    Ok, makes sense. Have you heard of a mink or weasel ever ripping a bird apart like that? Thank you for the response.
     
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    If they were not shut inside a secure coop, then the answer could be just about anything. A 4 foot fence may keep chickens in well, but it won't keep anything out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  5. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The pattern of all the dead birds sounds exactly like a weasel or one of it's cousins (mink, etc). They attack the heads and necks, leaving bite marks exactly as you describe. For larger stuff like birds, they will jump on the backs of their prey and dig their toes in until they manage to bite the back of the neck with enough force to kill it......and it is the dug in toes that often accounts for the tiny marks beneath the wings. They will continue to attack anything still moving, so can and do kill entire flocks. As for the single eaten bird, that may be an additional culprit who got lucky and found a whole bunch of dead birds to eat. That could have been about anything......racoon, skunk, possum, cat, etc.

    Weasels are formidable little killers. Game agencies suggest that far and away their #1 prey is rats and mice and they kill a lot of them. But they are also opportunistic and will kill chickens and other small animals. I often wonder if a lot of weasel issues are not weasels searching for rats and mice (which are attracted to the chicken feed) that enter the coop and then find the chickens and go for them.

    With weasels, about your only defense is a tight coop with no holes larger than an inch. More like 1/2" if the smaller least weasels are a possibility. And they can climb and dig, so we are talking the entire coop, plus some type of apron or barrier at ground level.

    If it was a weasel, they live in dens and have established hunting areas, so it will be back. Best option is to tighten up the coop so they can't get back in. After that, the best way to get rid of them is a weasel box trap, which is a box trap with a baited rat trap inside. But anytime you have one predator show up, you can kill that one, but then another shows up, so the pattern could keep repeating. Depending on a trap to solve the problem isn't a good option. It is only a short term solution to a long term problem. Long term solution is that tight coop.
     
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  6. chckncpl

    chckncpl New Egg

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    Nov 29, 2016
    Wow, thanks for that post, Howard. A weasel box shall be made in the near future. Something I did not include in my original post is that there I have a shed which is right next to the chicken coop and run. I have seen rabbits in and out of underneath the shed, however, nothing else. My yellow lab had also been unusually attracted to what might be under the shed, recently. Again, we have so may things around here it was nothing new for him to be chasing after something or whatever, but in hindsight I am kicking myself for not taking action when the signs were there. Thank you for the information and I will be looking out for the next perpetrators.
     

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