All Chicks Missing Overnight

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by merrydell, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. merrydell

    merrydell Hatching

    Apr 25, 2008
    Oh, we're having a bad time of things. March 2 (today is April 25) we had a suspected coon behead our 8 mature hens. We hired someone to trap and caught two skunks, a possum, and a few neighborhood cats. Since we hadn't seen any more sign we reinforced the coop a bit (still topless but 6 feet tall chicken wire) and started closing the tiny chicken door at night to protect our 20 started chicks (6 would lay in June so not tiny). Last night I didn't close the door and today 100% are simply missing with a few feathers left behind. The nest box is torn partly off the wall so it wasn't a featherweight in there. The door is only about 8 inches. What would do this and how do I catch it? We're in Central VA.
  2. PennyinOK

    PennyinOK In the Brooder

    Mar 29, 2008
    Se Oklahoma
    So sorry to hear about your loss. Maybe you will find some of them nearby? This would devestate me. Not sure what could have done it but I do know racoons are very strong critters.

  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    With the list of animals you have caught you can expect the predator(s) to be pretty much the same. With that amount of caught predators you must know that an open coop is just asking for more predators to come have a midnight chicken dinner.

    Once they know where a meal is they will come back. The scent of blood and death will linger and more predators will find their way to your coop.

    Before you get more chicks I hope you will build a fully closed and secure run and house. Don't depend on chicken wire to protect them. You will need to use welded wire fencing covered with hardware cloth on the lower 2 - 3 feet. Bury the wire at least 6 inches deep to keep them from digging under to get in. You will need to cover it as well. You will have to be diligent and close the hen house every single night. To do any less is asking for a predator to come kill future chickens.
  4. Miltonchix

    Miltonchix Taking a Break

    Jul 14, 2007
    Milton, Florida
    Fox. They like to take dinner home and leave little or no evidence of their visit. Except for the missing birds. Sorry for your loss.
  5. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Songster

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    Sorry to hear about your birds. I would guess a family of raccoons. I had them kill all but one of my flock several years ago. We set traps and caught 5 of them in the next few days after that. I would reset the traps and keep them baited 24/7.
  6. QueenieBee

    QueenieBee In the Brooder

    Apr 22, 2008
    Ocala, Florida
    I'm sorry so hear about your loss. [​IMG]

    The best thing to do is to make your coop/pen more predator-proof.

    I have the wire buried pretty deep. Our fence is over 6 feet high and completely covered. We also close the door at sundown. There are lots of raccoons and possums in our area and they will get in if they can find any opening at all.

    Like MissPrissy said, if they got a meal there before they will continue to come back and try again.

    If you trap these others will replace them.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2008
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your hens and chicks [​IMG]

    IMO there is really no point in trying to catch whatever did it... even if you did, it's going to have dozens and dozens of relatives that will just take its place.

    What you need, as others have said, is a more Fort Knox style coop and run. Welded wire, not chickenwire, and with a strong top on the run (a lot of your predators can climb). And then to close the chickens into their (beefed-up if necessary) coop every evening without fail.

    Sorry, but chickens just *are* most of the natural world's favorite white meat.

  8. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    We haven't had any coons get in the coop, but they do get in the barn. They come in through the cat door. You would be amazed at how big of a coon can squeeze through that small door.
  9. merrydell

    merrydell Hatching

    Apr 25, 2008
    We do have a fair system - we've had chickens for 6 years in our neighborhood with only a rare loss. Some of the hens from the first massacre were originals from the first flock we started. Our coop is 6 feet tall, buried a foot with wood reinforcing the visible bottom, welded wire 4ft and chicken wire all with a net over top and a motion sensor light. The net is the only point of access to the little door we forgot to close last night. Whatever it was had to work pretty hard and I sure don;t see how it/they could have carried everything out climbing up 6 feet with each load and pushing past the netting. The netting isn;t tied securely but it would be in the way at least (deters hawks).
  10. zatsdeb

    zatsdeb Songster

    Oct 2, 2007
    Lincoln, Illinois
    maybe you need a guard animal. the only trouble we have had is with skunks, and we got rid of them, but racoons and coyotes are scared of our minature donkeys. But, with our baby chicks, we close them up at night always! We didn't one night, they were about 1 month old, last year, and something had chewed on their butts..... we suspected a skunk, and then when we found heads missing in the big chicken house we found a skunk in there at dusk, and got rid of it, plus a bunch between our house and the neighbors house. I didn't know skunks could be so bad! But it does sound like you have a racoon, they climb pretty good and usually their victims.
    sorry about your loss, it is heartbreaking!

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