Another case of the missing chicken . . . What happened?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 9, 2009
Last Monday between 9am and noon one of my hens mysteriously disappeared without a trace. I was out of town but my spouse informs me that she heard nothing unusual. There's no evidence that a predator got her like loose feathers and such. The hen, a white leghorn, was at the top of the pecking order, a bit on the loud side, and prone to jump over the gate until I trimmed her feathers. I have several theories:

1. She somehow got out on her own and somebody may have taken her after she wandered around a bit

2. A flying predator got her

3. someone entered our yard and took her

The last two options seems unlikely given what I've been told. My spouse said she took a short nap of about 30 minutes so I can't entirely rule out foul play but I think it very unlikely. My immediate neighbors confirmed the hen hadn't got into their yard.

Anyone have another theory? Is this disappearing act typical of leghorns?
No one responded to my email a little further below, but I've just encountered the same problem with a rooster (and he was a tough little guy). It's highly unlikely anyone came into our yard and also pretty highly unlikely that he 'jumped' the fence. I thought if an eagle got him (and they are our biggest predator problem here) that there would be tell-tale feathers left behind, but there is no sign of any trauma anywhere. And, usually when an eagle (or eagles) come through the yard, the hens are traumatized for several hours but they were all peacefully roaming the yard. So I'm guessing an eagle swooped down grabbed him and made away with him leaving little evidence. But it is a bit disconcerting to have them disappear as if into thin air.

And always sad to lose one.
ya i had a red tail hawk (chicken hawk) take my banty roo without a trace about a month ago. i am prettty sure it was a hawk because
1. there was no sign of him or his feathers
2. my dogs patrol the farm and come home with any chickens that have met an untimely end no matter how little is left or how rotten
3. i have seen the bugger around alot lately he actually got one of my mutts a couple days ago but couldnt hold on to him and dropped him in the corn (this happened as i was walking out of the barn and i saw the whole thing it was pretty cool to see actually, especially since no one was hurt my little roo had nary a scratch on him!

so from my limited experience i would say you have a flying predator of some sort, or a two legged one.

just my 2c
Same thing just happened to my banty roo. We came home to find him missing with no trace of him anywhere. The only thing I can think of is a chicken hawk swooped down and got him before anyone knew it. It really sucks. I hate hawks! What can I do to keep the others safe now?
Thank you everyone. I appreciate your responses. You confirmed my deepest suspicion. I saw a hawk this past summer flying high above my yard, and boy that could've been bad news then.
It's cheap to string cheap twine over the run about 6" apart. The
predatory birds won't go through it, cause they know they could't spread their wings to land, or to get out.
I observed a hawk hitting a blue jay on the ground once. The hawk swooped with wings open to break its fall, and hit the jay talons first.
Then, as it was unmolested, proceeded to eat lunch. When through, took about 3-4 steps to take off.
They can't get up air speed with the twine blocking their wing span.
You can also tie strings of cloth on the crossing strings to make sure they see the twine.
Just a hint...
That is what we have decided to do - keep them in their run. I hate to do it to them though. They love being able to run around the whole yard, but I don't think I could handle another loss right now. I care about them too much. We have it secure except for the bottom. What we have is a preditor proof coop in which they are locked into at night, but the run is a 10 x 15 dog run with chicken wire covering the top. I have read suggestions on what to do about the bottom, to keep preditors from digging under, but I want to know what works best. What do ya'll say? Some of the things I have seen posted are
1. digging a tranch and putting fence down into the ground about a foot or so.
2. electric wire near the ground (on the outside of the fence of course)
3. sitting outside with a gun ready to shoot anything that goes near the coop (which I am not particularly fond of)
This is migration season for many species of hawks. The big hawk that takes chickens seems to be the Red Tailed hawk. The largest females weigh in at 3 pounds. I find it hard to believe that a full grown leghorn could be carried off with out a feather being shed.
I think you should do a good search in the area near the pen. I had a fox get into a pen with a 4 foot fence. Another person wrote about one that got into a pen 6 foot high. Either way a kill in the pen would have left feathers I am thinking. A bob cat could snag and kill with minimal feather loss, and carry it away with out a trace.

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