Chicken Massacre

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ColSanders, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. ColSanders

    ColSanders Just Hatched

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    Nov 2, 2015
    Hey everyone! We're new here and found BYC while trying to get answers to our chicken massacre that happened last week. We found a great post that outlined common predators and what too look for in the aftermath of the attack. However, what happened to us doesn't seem to fit a single category - although we are new to raising chickens so this might be obvious to older pros.

    We had 8 chickens (6 hens and 2 roosters). 1 rooster and 3 hens were about 4-5 months old and full or near full sized. The other 4 (one was accidentally a rooster) were about 2-3 months old. We had them free-ranging together trying to assimilate the younger ones with the older ones.

    Sometime between 8 AM and 1 PM the attack happened. They were free ranging in our back yard - about 1/3 acre that is fenced (there is a gate area that was open). Here's the CSI version for you:

    2 of the little hens were found with twisted necks, minimal feather loss, and otherwise completely intact laying side by side.

    About 40 feet away from them, one older hen and one younger hen were found in the same condition about 2 feet apart.

    About another 20 feet away from them, one older hen was found, neck twisted, and lots of feathers in piles stretching out several feet. The feathers were obviously hers due to color. There was no "flesh" attached to feathers. The body looked otherwise intact.

    The little rooster is MIA.

    The only survivors are one older hen and the older rooster.

    We've seen an owl, a handful of hawks have passed through (but we also have a lot of crows). The neighbor's dog has come into our yard at times past, but haven't seen him in the back yard in a year. We live on 3 acres and back up to a hay pasture. Have seen coyotes but not during the middle of the day.

    Any thoughts on what happened here? We'd like to address whatever it might be. The gate being open made me think it was the dog but they usually kill for sport - that explains the 5 left dead, but there's the one that got carried off.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

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    I'm very sorry about your losses. Could still be fox, raccoon, coyote, or a pack of dogs.

    Sounds very similar to my chicken massacre a few years ago. It was a fox as I caught him red handed running out of the pasture. Fox get into a frenzy when there are screaming terrified chickens running about. They just get so excited that they kill one after another after another, not necessarily for sport but by nature. I didn't even know I had fox in my area until I saw this one caught in the act.

    It is not unusual to see nocturnal predators in the daytime. I have seen during the day the following predators: Raccoons, fox, coyote, opossum, and skunks.
     
  3. ColSanders

    ColSanders Just Hatched

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    Thanks for the reply. I didn't realize a fox would do so much damage before taking off with one of the chickens. We saw what looked like a fox at dusk one evening after the attack. He was running along the fence line between our yard and the hay field.
     
  4. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    A fox wil kill several at a time and carry them away one at a time. Since there were several dead ones and only one missing, my guess is you interrupted the removal of the bodies.
     
  5. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

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    Raccoons have been known to do the same thing. Since you saw a fox I'm willing to bet that it was your culprit. The only thing I can suggest is that you're going to have to fence off a chicken run or put hot wire around the perimeter of the yard. If you go with a fenced in run then you will need to make sure it is high enough and that the bottom is buried 1-1/2 to 2 feet deep. If you can't bury fence then you can make a skirt of wire that extends outward about 2 feet around the outside. That way they can't jump in or dig under.

    Better yet, if you can afford it then you may want to look into electric net fencing. It surrounds a pretty large area and is easily pulled up and moved in less than 10 minutes. It will protect your flock well from anything except flying predators (Owls, hawks, eagles). The expense is worth the peace of mind.
     
  6. ColSanders

    ColSanders Just Hatched

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    Nov 2, 2015
    Thanks for the great info!
     

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