6 hens gone in one evening - Guess the predator

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by CritterHill, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. CritterHill

    CritterHill Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    SE PA
    I was out of town for a few days when my husband dropped me a note to let me know that 6 of our hens were killed in one evening.

    We have no idea what got them, so I was hoping for some ideas from you folks.

    He realized they were gone when he went out to lock them up a little late - after dark had fallen already.

    The only evidence was patches of feathers EVERYWHERE in the road (600 feet downhill from our house), in the run, in the woods, in our neighbors yard... And we also found one foot. The rest of the chickens just disappeared.

    We are in the woods of PA, so we have tons or predators - foxes, racoons, owls, hawks - but I can't imagine what would take 6 hens in one shot!

    He says he was gone for 2 hours in the afternoon and then he was in the house in the evening helping the kids with homework and dinner. The rest of the day he was out in the yard. So it either happened mid-day when he was out or just after dark.

    Any idea what would take out that many birds in one shot and not leave any remains?
  2. Sounds like a "pack attack" to me. IE: dogs, wolves or coyotes working in cooperation with each other. I'm sorry this happened. [​IMG]

    I'd look around the area where you keep your chickens, and any fences you may have for the following:

    Paw prints

    [Edited to add] Due to the absence of bodies, I find it very unlikely that this was done by 1 singular predator.

    Naughy, naughty animals!
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2012
  3. kreagerm

    kreagerm Chirping

    Feb 11, 2012
    Sounds like either a raccoon or fox. Wish I knew more for you. Sorry for your loss.
  4. CritterHill

    CritterHill Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    SE PA
    Thanks, no wolves out here, but we do have the local fox hunt club come through our property on occasion with their hounds. Hmmm, I wonder if a pack of hunting hounds would take out a chicken coop?

    We occasionally get coyotes too, but the neighbors have all said that they haven't heard coyotes in a while.

    Raccoon and fox are at the top of the list, but would they take 6 hens at once?

    I'll have to ask if the fox hunt came through last week. If so, I may have to make a phone call, grrr....
  5. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    You let people with dogs through your property to hunt foxes & you have chickens ? I wouldn't advice this. I would be very nervous & have my gun loaded if I saw a dog on my property..I have customers come by with there dogs in the car & they tell me o the dog won't hurt your chickens. Bull.
  6. zazouse

    zazouse Crowing

    Sep 7, 2009
    Southeast texas
    Sorry for your loss it is possible that most of the hens got away and are hiding, you may find them at the coop this moring once they know the threat is gone.
    Dog gets my vote because you said there were feathers in the neighbors yard and up and down the road , a wild critter would just run and hide to eat, a dog will stop anywhere and have a bit , play with it a while move on and repeat the process all over.

    Hope you find the rest of your girls soon.
  7. CritterHill

    CritterHill Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    SE PA
    Believe me, the fox hunt is a very long story... We have a fort knox predator proof coop and run with buried wire around the perimeter and everything. Nothing short of a bear is getting in and we make sure they are locked up in it when the fox hunt comes through. Since I was traveling though, I had no idea if my husband just failed to lock them in or what. Chatting with the neighbors last night though, they said that there was no hunt last week.

    So I guess we are back to stray dogs. I haven't seen any around lately though. Well. there will be no free ranging for a while in any case.

    Yeah we had one in the coop after the attack and 3 more came home the next day, but that was a few days ago, so I think we found everyone that could come back.
  8. 20736

    20736 Songster

    Jun 6, 2012
    Since you lost 3 (I think 6 lost - 3 that came back) and the weather here around the Mason-Dixon got cool, I am going to venture a guess of raccoons.
    The young may still be hanging around Mom, if not the young usually stay in a group until hibernation. 2 or 3 coons can easily make off with 3 chickens. And, they are active right at dusk.
    Sorry you lost so many.
  9. CritterHill

    CritterHill Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    SE PA
    Actually we lost 9 and 3 came back :( So we are still down 6 chickens.

    The up side is that my 4th grader is hatching chicks this year in her science class during their embryology unit and has been begging me to be allowed to keep some, but I've been telling her no because we didn't have room in the coop. Well, guess she gets to keep some chicks now!

    In related news, I told the school I would donate 3 dozen hatching eggs for this project in April. Anyone nearby Morgantown, PA that I could buy some off of in a few months?
  10. janinepeters

    janinepeters Songster

    Jun 9, 2009
    I'll guess fox. Raccoons and dogs leave a bigger, bloodier mess. Just feathers suggests struggling chickens, and since fox is not very large, some chickens can struggle. But foxes aren't as messy as raccoon, which sometimes leave heads strewn around. Fox is also much more efficient than dog. I'm picturing fox getting in, chickens panic and a bunch run out. Fox keeps coming back to get as many of them as possible, caching most, and the three he didn't catch returned home.

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