Back to back hen deaths in 24 hours

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by RenegadeJane, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. RenegadeJane

    RenegadeJane In the Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2017
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    Hello everyone,

    We're in NH. So this morning my poor husband discovered one of our original hens (2 years old) dead in the chicken run, right under the hanging waterer. She was on her side, had no noticeable wounds other than some reddish marks on her neck. My husband assumed it was from the other hens pecking her after she died.

    Since we haven't seen any signs of disease or sickness, I brushed it off as maybe a sudden death type thing, heart attack or what have you. I have no reason to think she was egg bound as we had just gotten an egg from her the previous day.

    Cut to this evening, my husband goes outside with the dogs and the dogs act interested in the chicken run, something they don't usually do. On inspection my husband finds 4 hens (out of 9 chickens, the rest were in the coop) still out in the run, on a perch we have out there. And, surprise, another dead hen. This time one of our <1 year olds. She too was on her side, red marks on neck (looked like pecks) but no more signs of wounds. There was however a small pool of blood and some random blood splatter.

    So, I know weasels could be a possibility...our run is heavily secured against bigger predators, but not weasels. This to me lines more up with why some of the hens were acting funny and not going into the coop. I know they can kill for sport, but I've never had a predator kill just 1 hen at a time, and not take at least a bite out of them. But the other thought my husband had was that a few weeks ago a wind storm had broken a mirror we had outside (a relic from a failed attempt at trying to get guineas to stay in the yard.) And he wonders if maybe some of the glass had gotten into the run, and maybe the hens had found it after this recent thaw and ate it. I would think they would act weird, at the very least, before just dropping dead from something like that.

    If anyone has had an experience that is familiar to this, let me know. I appreciate any insight.
     
    Susan Dye, staceyj and OhZark Biddies like this.
  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

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    I'm sorry for your loss:hugs
    Do you happen to have some photos of the marks on your hens?
    Coop/run photos might be helpful to others that may make suggestions.

    It does sound like you have a predator problem. I couldn't tell you what though.
    You might want to set some traps to see if you can catch anything.
    I'm sure that some folks like @roosterhavoc or @OhZark Biddies can give you some tips.

    If you don't have photos and lose another one, please try to take some photos.
     
  3. OhZark Biddies

    OhZark Biddies Crowing

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    My Coop
    Your post has more details than many of this type... so thanks for taking the time to provide those, but I’m not much help with the “who done it” game as far as guessing based on injuries ect. generally speaking ... however if you can identify the culprit with a track, or a game camera picture, etc.... I might be able to suggest some strategy for a targeted approach to catching the critter...

    ...but nonetheless it sounds like a weasel might be a good guess.

    If it turns out that it is a weasel or you just want to set traps for a weasel just in case, then a common setup would be a rat trap in a “weasel box” as shown at this link:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...thing-is-working.1288735/page-7#post-20896492

    You can search “weasel box” on the web to find more info on how to build and bait.

    If it turns out to be something else, post back with additional details.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  4. WindingRoad

    WindingRoad Songster

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    How much snow do you have on the ground over there in NH?
     
    Susan Dye likes this.
  5. RenegadeJane

    RenegadeJane In the Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2017
    New Hampshire
    We've just been through a thaw. So not much at this point. More of a patchwork. I'll try and get a pic this morning of the recent hen death.
     
    Susan Dye and Wyorp Rock like this.
  6. RenegadeJane

    RenegadeJane In the Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2017
    New Hampshire
    Ok, so I think it's safe to say it's a weasel now. Found another hen this morning, and she was actually nibbled on in the chest area. So I'm about to rush out the door for traps. Our run is 10 ft x 30 ft and our coop is basically a sequestered part of our barn so I have no idea what our long term solution will be considering it'll cost a fortune to hardware cloth every gap or hole....
    IMG_20190319_102959.jpg IMG_20190319_102928.jpg IMG_20190319_102225.jpg
     
    Susan Dye, Trux and Wyorp Rock like this.
  7. roosterhavoc

    roosterhavoc Free Ranging

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    How close to water is your coop?
    Can you take pictures of any areas where you think and animal might be able to get in?
     
    Susan Dye and Wyorp Rock like this.
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

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    So sorry for you loss. How many chickens do you have left? This afternoon, I would move them somewhere safe and secure, until you catch the culprit. A basement, secure garage or pen. Another poster in January lost most of his flock over 3 nights to a weasel before he caught it. I hope you can trap it, and stop the killings.
     
  9. RenegadeJane

    RenegadeJane In the Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2017
    New Hampshire
    We have 6 hens and a rooster left.

    We have pond on the property and did find a small tunnel into the coop via the barn. We plugged that with some stone at least. But now i see all sorts of gaps everywhere in the barn siding.

    The only secure place i can think for them is the basement...i have a puppy pen maybe I could set up and i dunno, put a tarp over it? I might try that once i get home with the traps.

    Thanks for everyones help! We woke up last night to the sounds of coyotes in our backyard and it just seems like someone suddenly turned up the difficulty setting on us. *laughing cry*
     
    MerryMeridional likes this.
  10. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

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    Well, then the raccoons need to feed their young as well. Springtime is difficult when you have chickens on the menu. Hopefully, you won’t need to keep them in the basement for more than a day or two. At least you have that for emergency shelter. We all like to help, so if you later have time to post any pictures of your coop within the barn, many could make suggestions if you need any.
     

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