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BR - Chicken just gone missing!?!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Vintage Chick, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. Vintage Chick

    Vintage Chick In the Brooder

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    Apr 15, 2012
    I just want to glean information from some of you who have possibly had this experience.

    I let my 24 week old babies (some just started laying this week) out for a little time each evening. I call them back to the coop by shaking a "kibbles" bag, and they all come running. Tonight I was outside with all 15 of them. My daughter and a friend were also outside as we were grilling out, and taking some pictures. The chickens were milling around us as usual.

    When I did our kibble routine, only 14 came back. We have looked and looked for our missing Barred Rock girl named Clara.

    Here's my question:

    Is it possible that a hawk or owl got her and there was absolutely NO noise involved? Although our eyes were not on them constantly, we were out there with them the entire time. There was no "scattering" of other hens. One other possibility is that she "squeezed" through a wrought iron fence. Although I think that would be rather unusual since they tend to stay together. Also, they all just got one side wings clipped 2 weeks ago, so she couldn't have flown over the 4 foot tall fence.

    Any ideas? Anyone had a chicken just simply "go missing"?

    Thanks in advance for replies!
     
  2. wvtim

    wvtim In the Brooder

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    Feb 12, 2012
    Hawks and foxes and hunting very hard right now. I was having chickens disappear one at a time during the day with no trace. I have had to stop free ranging all together until I remove all the predators. I had a fox come into the yard during the day chasing the chickens , so I figured that was my problem so I focused on trapping and calling foxes for a while. Couple of days ago , I had a large hawk fly very low scanning my chickens and they all scattered under the coop so that tells me that the fox isnt my only issue. So, I only let them out for an hour in the evening when I can be right with them - It sucks, I hate keeping them penned up all day.
     
  3. Vintage Chick

    Vintage Chick In the Brooder

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    Apr 15, 2012
    Thanks wvtim. I think we discovered what happened. I found one small place in the fence where they were milling around. I think she simply went through the fence! (dumb bird). She had no idea how good she had it here! Boy, was she a pretty girl ~ miss her.

    Anyway, yesterday I was blessed with two more birds - Rhode Island Red hens. My neighbor called me and there were 5 chickens at the neighborhood park. One neighbor who recently lost several birds to coons, got 3 and I got 2. How weird is that!?!
     
  4. wvtim

    wvtim In the Brooder

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    Feb 12, 2012
    chickens just running free at the park?
     
  5. carolwfuller

    carolwfuller Chirping

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    Jun 17, 2012
    I live in MA on the ocean. My hens are free range and I had one attack where the hen survived. I have no idea who did it. I had 8 chickens. One has always been solitary
    Yesterday at curfew only 7 came home? In the morning I found the scene of the hens attack and picked up a lot of beautiful feathers. She is gone
    I don't know what to do though. I cannot be outside all day. I love them milling around me when I do go out. They are unreliable about returning to the pen until sunset. I guess I need to work on putting them away when I am not around.
    Any ideas?
     
  6. amyduck

    amyduck Songster

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    Jan 20, 2011
    I had a hen with a 5 week old chick that I was allowing to free range in my yard - I have an electric door so they would go out when it opened. She always kept her chick close and was fiercely protective - never let my other hen or me close - so I thought the chick would be okay.

    Then one morning around 7:30am I woke to very loud chicken "screams" I ran out and my hen was hysterically running around the yard screeching and looking for her chick. I looked everywhere and there wasn't a sign of it - no feathers, nothing - I figured either a hawk or a cat got it... That day, the hen cried all day long but especially that night and again the next morning (I think she was used to getting it up to roost, and then maybe had forgotten it was gone when she woke up!)

    At any rate, I had three other 5 week old chicks that I was raising (I bought them to give to my hen when she only hatched one egg, but she wouldn't take them!) So naturally I was especially worried about letting them run around my yard, and as I didn't have the time to watch them all the time, I purchased a mesh walled tent that I found on sale for $59 at Ace it has two zippers on opposite sides, but I had to get poles I had around the house and garden staples and stakes to secure the bottom so that a cat couldn't get in through the bottom. That worked okay for a while, but the chicks hated it because it was on the grass and not as interesting as the rest of the garden... so I was still letting them out for a little while each day- as long as I was in the garden.

    Then about 3 weeks after the chick disappeared I let them out wander a little farther away... from the corner of my eye I saw a hawk, wings tucked close, dive right towards my chicks! I ran towards them, screaming and waving my hands - and the hawk aborted the strike about 2 feet from the ground.... It took me about 5 minutes to find my chicks after that! They had all hidden in different places - one even had a hard time getting out from it's hiding place!

    Once that happened I knew I had to do more! This time I purchased a 28' X 28' bird net (about $30) and attached it to my back and side fence - where the coop is too - and the garage and then I attached the remaining side to one side of the tent with a zipper and I staked the sides of the net to the ground between the fence and the tent and between the tent and the garage. I also had a long piece of very thin PVC which I put in the middle to lift the net up high. (By the way, I spent hours figuring out a good way to do this ...)

    At any rate, it works wonderfully, and I'm really glad I did it, because there are now at least 4 young Coopers Hawks in the neighborhood! Shortly after I erected the mesh "aviary" I actually saw 3 of the hawks dive at the chicks at the same time! But they veared away when they saw the net! For about a week they hung out on the neighbor's tree.... I'm sure they would have drooled if they had the ability! I still see and hear them around the neighborhood, but they don't come around nearly as much as they had, and I'm very relieved! The only downside, is my chicks don't seem to react the the hawks as much as they did! I'm wondering if I'm going to have to keep the aviary up permanently....
     
  7. wvtim

    wvtim In the Brooder

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    Feb 12, 2012
    We used to stay in Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard for two weeks every summer - i never saw so many skunks in all my life! Even during the daylight hours we would see skunks - any chance it was a skunk? Or Osprey will also eat chickens.... Was the feather pattern in a cirlce or strewn in a line ?
     
  8. Vintage Chick

    Vintage Chick In the Brooder

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    Apr 15, 2012
    Wow amyduck, sounds like you went to a LOT of trouble, but we do want to protect our "babies", don't we!?! I'm going to have to figure out something else to do. My girls haven't been out of their pen since Saturday because I'm in the same boat.....I cannot stay out there all the time to watch them, and I certainly don't want to lose anyone else. They keep running to the door to come out and play. [​IMG] I have a portable tractor, but that's where my 2 new "park" birds are. They are Rhode Island Reds ~ one even layed an egg today.

    Yep, 5 chickens running around at the play/skate park. I don't know if they were lost because of the recent flood, or someone abandoned them. My neighbor took 3 of them - 2 leghorns and one EE. They had signs of fowl pox, but appears late stage. The Reds that I kept are going to be isolated from the rest of my flock for several more days so that I can be more sure of their health.

    I'm going to post another thread, but will continue this thread for anyone who wants to respond as I have another question. This pox stuff really has me concerned because of all the mosquitos. I'm not big on chemicals (at all), but after reading some other posts, I feel more comfortable with the pox vaccine. Would you:
    1. spray around yard/pen for mosquitoes
    2. give the pox vaccine
    3. let nature take its course
     
  9. carolwfuller

    carolwfuller Chirping

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    Jun 17, 2012
    Thank you for the reply. Yes, I live on Chappy. There are some skunks here but I have two dogs and have not had any hints of skunks around this year. My guess is osprey, altho I thought they only ate fish, crows?, seagulls?
    The remains were spread all around near a bush where I think she was resting. In fact my one dog must have found some remains that next morning and buried them as I caught her chewing on some. Ugh! She ate the leg and I have not seen the results in her excrement yet. Ugh!

    I have been keeping a close eye on them and putting them in the pen mid-day when I am inside and I am letting them out about 10 when osprey hunting is over. Yes, I see them flying over. The gulls and cormorants are always out on the dock. I have not seen hawks although I know they are inland.

    If you have any info on gulls or osprey as predators p,ease let me know.

    Thanks, Carol
     
  10. Vintage Chick

    Vintage Chick In the Brooder

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    Apr 15, 2012
    I have some very sad news about our BR- "Clara".
    No, it wasn't a predator. No, she didn't escape.
    I went out early today to rake some pine needles out of the run. I had one of those recycled rubber tire "dishes" (about 12" in diameter, and 2" tall). We used it to put water in so the chickens could cool their feet, and sometimes turned it over to lay out some oyster shell. It wasn't "odd" for it to be right side up or up side down. Anyway, as I was raking, I moved the dish and a little foot appeared. Poor thing. The only thing I can figure is that she stood on the edge and it precisely tipped over on her. I just get shivers thinking about the image I saw this morning.
    SOOO sad.
    I had SIX people here Saturday night when she disappeared, and NO ONE thought to turn that dish over. (Like I said, it wasn't odd for it to be upside down.)
    My 13 year old daughter shoveled her up (brave girl!) and we buried her poor Clara. I threw the dish away. I had no idea they could tip over like that! I will try to be more careful and diligent about what goes into the coop and run from now on!
     

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