Can anyone shed some light, please? Sad, sad day :(


5 Years
Jul 12, 2016
Hello all! I'm new here. Up until last evening, I had a flock of 6 that I called my Golden Girls (2 Plymouth Rocks, 3 Rhode Island Reds and 1 Buckeye.) I raised them from the time they were 3 days old until 3 months. They had been doing great, and of course, I became attached. The girls were our pets. We had intended to raise them for their eggs. Long story short, we had let them free range yesterday for about 4 hours while we ran out. I've done this before and they've been absolutely fine. Typically I only let them free range if one of us is home. I went back to their coop to put them to bed and they were all gone :-(........ We found an area of loose white feathers, then more white feathers in the side yard, then in the woods, there was Sophia, dead with her head missing. The rest of her was completely in tact. From what I've read, sounds like a racoon? We buried her and looked for the rest of the girls until it was too dark to look anymore. This morning I started early, and found some red feathers near our shed (it's across the way from their coop. I looked everywhere, tried to follow the feather trail and this time, nothing. I don't have much experience with chickens other than when I was a child, I raised 2. I had been doing my best this time around to keep them safe and happy. Am I being completely naive to think that there may still be 4 out there and they might come back? From the feathers that were found, it would appear that 2 had been attacked. I feel terrible, like I failed them. I should have put them away and not let my guard down. I'm completely sick about it..... Thanks in advance for your help. Southwest Ohio.
Hi! Aww thank you so much, I appreciate that. Their coop is all ready for them should they return.
:) . And I don't think you should feel to guilty and be to hard on yourself. These things happen. I let mine free range all day whether I'm home or not and haven't had problems. Altho I'll probably be more cautious after this just in case.
Don't be to hard on yourself. It happens to everybody sooner or later. I hope they come back, but you should brace yourself that they won't. I'd keep looking, this young they likely won't find their way back if they went to far. So sorry for your loss. And Welcome to BYC
If this attack was during the day, difficult to say as most of the time, raccoons operate at night. Not always, but most of the time. But a headless bird normally would be indicative of a raccoon. The rest could be anything from a fox, coyote, etc. That all of them would turn up missing at the same time is curious. A whole flock of dead birds is common with dogs, but they normally kill em and leave em. If your birds are still alive, they might still turn up, but if they are separated, they may be disoriented and/or afraid to return and worse, scattered birds remain easy prey. Lets hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Probably none of this makes you feel any better, but most of us have been in your shoes at one time or another.

Probably the most difficult lesson to learn, and to accept, is the fact that just about every living thing on the planet that is not a chicken seems determined to seek out and kill our birds. So true free ranging in an area where predators are common and lurk (which is just about everywhere) is almost always a disaster waiting to happen. The birds will be living on borrowed time. Not a question of IF, but simply WHEN.

So a suggestion or two for going forward, first make sure you have a bomb proof coop that virtually nothing but you will be able to enter. If you have an attached run, make it the same and assume that most of the time, if you are not around to monitor things, this is where your birds will be kept. After you have those in place, if you want to expand an area for them to roam around in, plan on building a fence of some sort to establish a perimeter that predators are not likely to breach. Doesn't mean the won't, but they should not be able to wander in from the bushes and help themselves. They can do this anytime of day and it happens quick. One minute the birds are there, they next minute they are gone. That is the way it works, even if you are around thinking you can monitor things. A predator fence of some type is always on the job.
I am very sorry for your loss, it's hard to loose a pet. I'm very attached to my girls as well.

As I read your sound like it was a daytime attack, and all 6 of the hens are missing. In searching you found mostly feathers in a few locations that came from different birds.

Then as you searched the area you found the remains of one hen...partially eaten, head missing.

On the top of it, the hen missing the head sounds like a raccoon, head being eaten and crop eaten out is classic for a raccoon. But if this were a raccoon, you'd have found 6 hens missing heads with crops eaten out...not just the one.

Honestly, I think it's a fox. I think you have a female fox that is feeding her young. She was probably finishing off that one you found, and heard you coming. As you approached she dropped the hen and slunk off.

If you search an area that is ~100 yards in diameter around what you feel is the main attack location, and do not find remains...I'm going to say fox.

...and again, I'm very sorry for your loss. It is hard when predators take our birds....
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I'm so sorry this happened to your chickens. My chickens are my pets too and I understand how you feel. Please don't feel guilty about this it may have even happened if you were home and didn't hear it. There is still a chance that you might find some of them. I hope and pray you do.
Please let us know if you do find them.
Thank you. Your post has been very helpful. I never thought about a fox, never seen one here, but your description sounds pretty spot on with what I'm seeing. I searched and searched today for anything I could find. I never found any of the girls, but I did find several more areas of feathers, some white, some red, no other remains. I'm optimistic, however, it very well could have been enough feathers for 6 birds :( In one spot not too far into the woods, where I found some white feathers, there were also some small bones and 2 small skulls of other animals. Fox spot?? We have 4.5 acres, but their coop wasn't too far from our house next to our detached garage. I could always see them from my dining room, kitchen window, patio, you name it, I always had a view of them. I just can't imagine....they're so defenseless. I'll continuing praying about it. It will take some time to find some peace.

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