Awwww cripes, darn marauder..... stupid us :(

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by eggchel, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. eggchel

    eggchel Crowing Premium Member

    Dec 26, 2006
    Both Coasts
    My son called from his car....... in our driveway, to ask if there was supposed to be a chicken outside in the dark! Uh, NO! So DD and I go out and catch a somewhat dazed black-red Ameraucana banty who is wandering around in my son's headlights. At first we thought that it was one of our neighbors hens but when we caught her we realized that she was from my sister's hen house where we keep all the "single ladies". Not a good sign when you find a hen outside wandering around at 11pm.

    Sure enough, for the first time ever, a possum or raccoon got into the layer pen and went after the hens that were roosting outside the hen house, on a 7 ft high cross beam in the enclosed run. Another black-red Ameraucana, a silver banty Ameraucana, and two Spitz hens were dead on the ground. We couldnt find any rips or holes in the fencing, but there are definitely a couple gaps between layers of fencing where zip ties or tie wires are missing and the fencing has sagged over the years, so something could have climbed through. Our fault for becoming a bit complacent about the maintenance of that pen since it is had never been broken into. [​IMG] We still cant figure out how the little hen ended up outside, unless by sheer luck she flew against the fence and fell through the gap. Lucky little girl. Thankfully the raccoon or possum didnt get any of my five Tolbunt Polish hens, nor any of my sister's layers, that were roosting inside the hen house.
    Unfortunately, another Spitz hen that we found hiding in a nest box, wasnt so lucky. It looks like the predator had a hold of her head and tried to rip her beak off. We put her in a cage with water and mash but she doesnt look good. I'll take a closer look at her in the morning if she is still alive. Her lower beak looked like it may have been broken, in which case, she will need to be culled. [​IMG]

    After cleaning up the mess, putting food and water inside the hen house and locking the rest of the girls inside, my dd set a trap for the offender in case it returns tonight. Canned cat food and marshmallows should do the trick.

    Im thankful that we found the carnage and got it cleaned up before my sister-in-law goes out in the morning to check the birds as she leaves for work. She is tender hearted and would have been sickened by the sight of the headless birds.

    Tomorrow the coop will be fortified.

    Tonight Im still kicking myself.


  2. lngrid

    lngrid Songster

    [​IMG] I'm sorry to hear about your loss and how it happened. Darn predators....

    From your perspective, Chel, how often would you recommend people check over their coops and runs for weakened, rusted or broken-down spots where a nasty critter could get through?
  3. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator Staff Member

    Ugh, Chel, that's such a bummer and I totally know the feelings you had as we've been through it at least 3 times over here.

    It is a good reminder to never get to secure in our secure coops.

    Again, sorry for your losses!

  4. gumpsgirl

    gumpsgirl Crowing Premium Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Oh Chel! That's terrible! Predators are really on the prowl right now. I really hate that they knocked on your chickens door though. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  5. gsim

    gsim Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee

    Bad scene all around. Sorry to hear it.

    My run is only 4 mo old, but I do a walk-around once a week to check for digging activity. It is set in cement and I keep the perimeter mowed weekly so any digging will show up easily. Zip ties deteriorate from UV rays like a tire does. Best use for them in poultry is for quick tempy fasteners until something durable such as wire/bolts, screws can be used for a permanent joining. Coons, like humans and primates, have an opposing thumb which makes them very dexterous concerning fastenings and latches.[​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  6. hinkjc

    hinkjc Crowing Premium Member

    Jan 11, 2007
    I'm so sorry Chel. [​IMG] I hope you catch the offender.
  7. eggchel

    eggchel Crowing Premium Member

    Dec 26, 2006
    Both Coasts
    Thanks for your kind responses. Unfortunately, we didn't trap the offender last night, but I'll set the trap again tonight. Meanwhile, the guys are outside securing all the areas where the wire fencing overlaps. This time they are using "J" clips (meant for building cages) to fasten the wires together and they are re-stapling all the wire over the top and on all the frames. We had originally used both zip ties and wire ties to secure the overlapping wire but over time they deteriorated.

    That particular coop is about 9 years old, so Im guessing that we should have done this maintenance a couple years ago. [​IMG] We have paid more attention to some of the other coops where the predators make frequent attempts to get at the birds.

    Ingrid, I think that gsim has the right idea.... doing a weekly walk around the pen. We always do that with our pens out in back, checking the auto-waterers for leaks and looking for evidence of digging, but this layer pen is right next to my sister's cottage and hasnt had any predator problems in the past. It is completely enclosed and has wire down into the ground but looking it over closely today really showed that over just a few years gates and fence wire start to sag, staples rust, zip ties disappear, and wood rots.

  8. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    awwww... chel, I am so sorry for your loss... I agree it is easy to become complacent. one little gap is all they need. There are a few gaps here and there in my setup that a possum or roo could just flatten out and go through if they wanted, or climb up high and go over the top. I am in mid project, and have been for three weeks. Keep waiting for my brother to come help me move panels and it is always "next time"...
  9. eggchel

    eggchel Crowing Premium Member

    Dec 26, 2006
    Both Coasts
    Quote:I know exactly what you mean. We have a really long list of "next time" projects. Today the guys got most of the repairs done but when it was time for them to stop there was still one gate that needed some reinforcing and a new latch. It is at the top of the "next time" list. Hopefully the pen is secure again, but we will be trying hard to catch the (suspected) raccoon that got in. It is probably the same one that figured out how to rip through some chicken wire on another pen. Gotta get rid of the smart ones. [​IMG]

    Hopefully marshmallows and peanut butter will lure the critter into the trap without enticing the barn cats. Most of the feral cats are wise to the trap (they have all be trapped and neutered/spayed), but there are always a couple abandoned house cats that arent so bright.
  10. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Darn, Chel, that's terrible! Those little maintenance items just get put off over and over sometimes. At least, you know where the critter gained entry and can fix that weakness in your defenses. Sorry for your losses.

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