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Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by dbbd1, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. dbbd1

    dbbd1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Up until yesterday, our goats and chickens have comingled in the fenced pasture field. The chickens have respected the 4' field fence wire (and hot wires for the goats!) but yesterday when we came home, 3 of the 4 were outside the wire. Yup, the 4th was goners. All we found were 2 piles of feathers about 6' apart. The piles of feathers looked as though they were shorn off of the hen. There was no skin, in fact, no nothing, other than the feathers. When we disturbed the piles, the feathers just scattered to the wind, again, there was nothing else there. We did find some vague paw prints in the soil near the death-zone. The incident occurred sometime between 10am and 3pm, midday!

    My question is, what am I dealing with? I know that we have hawks, owls, raccoons and the occasional coyote. To my knowledge, we do not have bobcats, have never seen a cougar here and last saw a fox 10 years ago. (well, we do have deer, but unless they have mutated, they are probably not the problem). The "cleanliness" of the kill and the fact that there is no body leads me to think that it was an owl or hawk. The paw prints, a raccoon. I am not sure if a coyote could jump the fence. The "shorn" look to the feathers is most interesting. The midday kill, is also a puzzle. The goats were relatively unperturbed. Trapping would be an interesting proposition, given that the goats are in that field.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Passing dog? Contrary to popular belief, foxes do hunt by day and just because you haven't seen them, doesn't mean they are not around. The piles of feathers you are describing sounds more like a dog or fox to me than a bird of prey.
     
  3. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    X2 on daytime fox hunting...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. dbbd1

    dbbd1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 22, 2012
    Upon further examination, I found a section of fence that was a little bent up. As though something had a little trouble getting over it and used it as a ladder. Right now, leaning towards dog or coyote. Nobody has 'fessed up to anything yet, but some neighbors on our road do let their dogs run free...
     
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I personally have seen a fox climb a fence like it was a ladder - I wouldn't have believed it was possible otherwise. The whole story is detailed in the fox attack link in my signature but basically our chicken yard is fenced with 2x4" welded wire. Having lost 14 birds the day before, I had spent the day sitting out there waiting for whatever it was to return. When it did, I watched it approach on the other side of the fence, then start to climb the fence just exactly like it was a ladder. The fence is 5' high and it was about halfway up when I was able to get a shot off. It was vertical on the fence, and after what seemed like minutes but was probably only seconds, it fell off the fence backwards. I think it had died pretty much instantly to the shot to the head.
     
  6. dbbd1

    dbbd1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 22, 2012
    So, considering that my fence is 4' high (and I am not about to re-do that!), do you think that if I ran a hot wire along the top, it would help?

    If not, then a guard llama may be in order. Don't want whatever it is attacking the goats too.
     
  7. dbbd1

    dbbd1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 22, 2012
    So, off topic but nice job on the hoop house!
     
  8. Honey B

    Honey B Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Definitely sounding like some kind of canine attack but the feathers are puzzling. Hawks like to pluck and leave a feather pile as a calling card but more than likely would leave part of the chicken too. A full grown chicken would be much more than they could eat at one time. Never heard of dogs pulling out feathers but I have seen stranger thing happen. If you uncover the culprit let us know.
     
  9. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Thanks! [​IMG]

    Interesting view on the feathers. I was thinking that feather piles might be left when a grab is made but the bird gets away, and then it has to make another attempt. I never thought about them deliberately plucking feathers.
     
  10. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Wonder if the fox (if that's what it was) felt comfortable enough to strip the chooks in place. Our neighbor had all thirteen of her SLW pullets carried off by a pair of foxes (3 in the afternoon). I found the two cache sites under cedars in our wood line a couple of days later. Nothing but feathers (6 piles under one, 7 piles under the other cedar). Den was relatively easy to hunt down from cache location.
     

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