Chicken Massacre

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Lisa W, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. Lisa W

    Lisa W Out Of The Brooder

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    I lost my favorite bared rock about 6 weeks ago, just vanished to sign of her, not a feather. I have a secure pen inside a large fenced in back yard, 4'chain link. I just got 4 new black astorlorpes, had them about a week. Have just started letting them free range during the day. Yesterday found one of them headless and half eaten right next to the fence in a sheltered corner where they all love to hang out. Found her about 3PM, so this definitely happened in daylight. All the rest of the flock where hanging together up near the house with the exception of one who was hunkered down in another part of the yard I guess terrified. I rounded them all up as it was getting close to the time they go in anyway and put them in the pen. Now I'm afraid to let them out of the pen and I hate that. I have a large wooded back yard that they LOVE to roam and scratch and peck. I did walk the perimeter of the fence and found a opening at the bottom very close to where the bird was killed. I would love to know if everyone thinks this could be a fox? Several suggestions I've had are to set traps, run electric wire at top and bottom of fence, or of course leave them in the pen. There are in the pen until I figure this out. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. FrozenWings

    FrozenWings Out Of The Brooder

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    From the sounds of the attack and mutilation, I would think it mat be a weasel or a raccoon. I have heard or hawks dismembering chickens as well, but I would think that would have produced a more apparent kill markings. Perhaps you can put flour down by the entrance of the hole you discovered and get a set of tracks. If it is a raccoon it will be back. A live trap may also be an option, a raccoon hunting in the late afternoon means either there is a real food shortage or that animal is sick or injured. Sorry for your losses.

    -Frozen Wings
     
  3. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    A fox would simply jump or climb a 4 foot fence, not look for a way under it. Besides a fox would very likely have climbed or jumped the fence going in the opposite direction with your black astorlorpe in his mouth. Foxes are epicureans and prefer to dine at their leisure. Raccoons are generally nocturnal as are most other fury chicken thieves. There can always be the exception to the rule however. What makes it hard to advise people is that so many (including myself) don't include the region of the country were they live.

    My money is on a hawk being the culprit that killed your hen. One sure sign of a hawk feeding is that all or at least most of the bones will still be connected and in their proper place because most raptors strip the flesh off the bones of their victims (like Native Americans making or pulling "jerky" off a dead buffalo carcass) leaving a more or less intact skeleton behind. Also raptors hate to get feathers in their throat and mostly denude a chicken, at least the part of the chicken the hawk is actively feeding on, leaving a pile of feathers and down behind. Furbearing vermin on the other hand gnaw, chew, rip, tear, and worry the victims' body making a big mess out of the remains even chewing on, breaking, or eating the bones. The biggest exception to this rule is members of the weasel family (mink, skunks, fishers, etc.) who devour their victims somewhat in the same manner that you described. But then again these vermin are usually nocturnal.

    Google "chicken hawks" to find out more about these poultry pests of the wild blue yonder.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Lisa W

    Lisa W Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 31, 2013
    Thank you for your reply. I live in the piedmont of NC. Since the attack, I have kept my birds in their secure pen, with the exception of an hour I was able to let them out and stand guard. We were out of town over the weekend so they had to stay in the pen. Our pen is covered in chicken wire, so from what I've read if it was a weasel that varmint could go through the wire. We made it through the weekend with no kills. I'm hoping that indicates it is not a weasel.
    I wish I would have more closely examined the body for more clues. My husband buried it pretty quickly. But I do know the head was not completely severed. All was gone but the beak and comb and maybe some of the back of the head, not sure. I saw red meat, seems like the belly was opened up. Again, the bird was found in a very sheltered area, under shrubs and right next to the fence. It is a favorite hangout for the girls. I guess they felt protected there sadly enough.
    If you have any more opinion of the predator given this new information I would really appreciate it.
    Right now I'm afraid to let them out, even if I'm home and in the house. I feel I must be out in the yard with them. We have an adequate pen for now 6 birds, but I still hate they can not free range more often.
    Thank you so much for replying and happy holidays.
     
  5. Lisa W

    Lisa W Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 31, 2013
    Thank you for your reply. I continue to try and figure out the predator so I will know better how to protect my girls.
    A little more information about the kill, the head was not completely severed. the beak and comb were still intact, as well as the skin of the back of the head. The belly was opened up. Unfortunately, I did not examine any closer and my husband buried it very quickly.
    Since then the girls have had to stay in their pen with the exception of about an hour I was able to let them out and stand guard. We were out of town over the weekend, so they had to say shut up.
    Any additional advice or opinion are greatly appreciated.
    Thank you and Happy Holidays.
     
  6. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with chickengeorgeto, It sounds like a hawk to me. In my experience foxes and raccoon's take the body elsewhere before eating it and raccoon's rarely come out during the day. Your biggest culprit in a daytime killing in my opinion is a raptor of some sort.
     
  7. Lisa W

    Lisa W Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 31, 2013
    I really appreciate the reply's. I am very new at this so I'm still not convinced and have a few more questions. The "kill site" was under a lot of vegetation and very secluded. I don't see how a hawk would have gotten to her in that spot. So you all think she may have been out it the open and the hawk drug her back there? Where she was found is where they hang out 90% of the time. The astorlorpes are rarely out in the open. She was a big bird as well as the bared rock that got missing about 6 weeks ago. I just can't imagine a hawk being able to carry a bird of that size, but........ Does the carnage I described, part of head missing etc., fit with a hawk's pattern?Well again I really appreciate everyone's comments.
     
  8. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry for your losses. My flock became a buffet for foxes, bobcat, coyotes and raccoons so I went with an electric net fence around the yard. Its a bit pricey, but peace of mind is priceless! I still see bobcat, coyotes, foxes and raccoons (or their tracks) around the fence line, but I have not had any losses since putting the fence up this spring. I am buying a couple of more lengths of fence this coming spring to expand their free range area.
     
  9. Lisa W

    Lisa W Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm very familiar with electric fence, but haven't heard of an electric net. Could you please send me anymore information and/or a link about this? Thank you so much!
     
  10. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A full grown hawk can carry a chicken no problem.
     

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