Chickens gone

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by KarenJane, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. KarenJane

    KarenJane New Egg

    Oct 5, 2012

    I know I am not on this forum much but I know you all will understand my sadness. We used to have three chickens. It's a small flock, they were donated and our location is near a neighborhood and part business area. Since they were donated we got them as adults. They were here for two hears.

    A few weeks ago my daughter found one of our chickens dead, she was badly mangled and partially plucked. She was our Rhode Island Red. Our Americana was missing (she had gone missing once before when our dog chased her and she hid for 24 hours) and our Leghorn was acting very nervous. I let our girls free range (for a long time they were in the coop but it became too small so we would put them in at night, but eventually I stopped closing the door at night too) because I had noticed that something kept breaking one of the slats on the back of the coop and no matter how many times we fixed it something kept breaking it. And I figured if something came after them in the coop at night they would be able to get away if the coop door was open.

    But after we found one girl dead and the other one missing I got scared, I put the Leghorn in the coop and closed the door, trying once again to fix the broken slat.

    Two days later, she was gone.

    Nothing left but feathers.

    Nothing was disturbed, the food and water were still in place, the nesting box was undisturbed. She was just gone in a puff of feathers. Whatever had broken the slat went through the 2 inch gap grabbed her and pulled her through with no problem.

    I am still unsure what it was.

    We have seen feral cats in the yard, and the area is business and residential (6 foot privacy fences) so I wonder if a fox would live around here.

    My son followed the trail of feathers to the lot next to our lot which is behind the bank and up a tree and over the fence into the neighbors yard. I don't imagine a fox would go into someone's fenced back yard. Would a cat do that? Could a cat catch and kill three adult chickens? Who knows? All I know is, my chickens are gone. Even though they didn't really like me (I guess they were afraid, and never really acclimated to our yard) still they were fun to watch run across the yard for their tortillas. I miss their eggs.

    We want to get more but for sure we are going to make sure the coop is doubly secure, maybe more chicken wire or something. I don't know.

    Anyway, thanks for listening. I know chickens get killed by predators all the time, so...
  2. Coop Deville

    Coop Deville Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2012
    In my experience, raccoons are the predators most likely to pull a chicken through a gap in the house. They are also very cunning when it comes to opening latches and exploiting weaknesses in the perimeter. As a general rule, standard-gauge chicken wire doesn't protect against raccoons. You need a really strong, gap-free perimeter with no opening big enough for a raccoon paw. Where there's one, there are several.
  3. KarenJane

    KarenJane New Egg

    Oct 5, 2012
    I am very sure she was not pulled through the gap until she was dead, the majority of the feathers were inside the cage, not outside, there were just a few scattered here and there outside the cage. Our impression is; something went in and grabbed her and then pulled her out. One of our volunteers sleeps outside in a trailer, it is strange that he never heard any of the chickens putting up a fuss when they were killed.

    It's laid out so that they roost up top and their food/water is underneath. I doubt she would have been eating in the middle of the night.

    Also, we never see racoons, it's always cats. We had open garbage for a long time before we finally got a dumpster and it was never coons, just cats.

    I wonder what took the predators so long to come after the girls. They were here two years.
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    There are many possibilities but I would suspect raccoon or fox. Both are very capable of getting in through a small opening and getting chickens off the roost, killed and out again.

    I don't see raccoons either, not once in the 7 years I've lived in my current location, but they are here. I have seen their tracks, occasionally one will show up dead on the side of the road.
  5. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2013
    A raccoon will very commonly pull a chicken through a small gap to get to it. They are very smart and a lot stronger than they look. They are also extremely vicious when it comes to killing. There's a reason we call them "small bears" where I live.. I wouldn't rule out a fox for even a second though. Fox are one of the most cunning predators there are. Yes they will come out in broad daylight and yes they will come right up to a house. They are opportunistic predators and will watch their prey for as long as it takes to get the perfect opportunity to snatch it. I had a fox take 7 pullets from my yard at 3:10 in the afternoon when my brother walked past the chickens and through the yard at 3:00 heading home from the bus stop. The fox also sneaked its way into my neighbors coop and killed all their 4H birds and killed all but one of another neighbors free range flock. They typically take their prey, leaving only a pile or small trail of feathers behind and bury it close to the den to save for later. I highly suspect either predator to be the culprit.
    When the fox took mine, it must've picked off one that wandered from the flock and snuck up from behind. We didn't hear any noise out of them before it was too late. :/
    We also had a problem with a raccoon a few years ago. There was a groundhog digging near the coop and eventually the raccoon found its way into the run and through the coop door. It killed about 20 chickens the first night, did not eat a single one and killed the rest the following night. Again, the raccoon didn't eat any, just killed for the fun of it. :/
    I think you need to set up a gamecam and a live trap. Whatever it was, it will be back knowing it got a meal at your house. If you are using chicken wire (which is what I believe was mentioned in the original post) do not use it again. Chicken wire is only good for keeping chickens in. It is not made for predators. I can pull it apart myself with my bare hands.. I would use 1/2" hardware cloth in the future and make sure any holes/damages you find, are fixed immediately! Maybe even keep a game cam on the coop so you can see if anything is coming around at night? That way you can know what it is and how to prevent it from hurting your chickens. :)

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