Coyote attack?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by fearwig, Apr 28, 2016.

  1. fearwig

    fearwig Hatching

    Apr 28, 2016
    Our rooster and four hens (full grown) were ranging in the yard yesterday, and something got the rooster and at least one hen around 6pm, almost broad daylight. Just feathers left--a mess of them, like it was shook. One black (hen), one big mess of white (roo). Smaller black pile off to the side, probably the same hen but we're not sure.

    The other three seem to have run off into the woods after the incident and one or more will hopefully wander home before something finishes them off too, fingers crossed.

    We have red-tailed hawks galore--sometimes see a dozen a day--but they know they can't take the chickens, especially with the rooster around. And my rudimentary chicken CSI skills say this wasn't a raptor, raccoon, or neighborhood dog (all of which should leave gore or whole bodies). I'd say fox, but these chickens were ranging in the open and should have been able to avoid a fox in daylight, especially with a big roo on the job. And foxes hunt single--one fox can't drag two big chickens!

    Coyotes have been spotted in every county of Maryland but we live next to a highway and residences aren't far away. There are woods. You think this was coyotes? I'm not worried for our safety, I know coyotes aren't really dangerous to people, just wondering what I have to be on the lookout for in terms of the birds.
  2. DuckGirl77

    DuckGirl77 Songster

    Apr 19, 2016
    Just feathers means it is likely that it was a coyote. They can get brave. I saw one run right through our backyard one morning, and that was after seven o'clock, too. I can't really think of anything else except a fox, but a fox would have taken only one bird.
    1 person likes this.
  3. fearwig

    fearwig Hatching

    Apr 28, 2016
    Thanks! Glad I'm on the right track at least. Time to build an enclosure...
  4. Eggsoteric

    Eggsoteric Songster

    Nov 25, 2010
    I'm in Maryland as well. Lost 9 to a fox last year, solved that problem with electrified poultry net fencing. This is the time of year where fox are raising and feeding their kits so it could very well be a vixen her mate hunting during the day. Fox are smart and quick and will kill whatever they're able to if uninterrupted and come back as many times as it takes to grab what they've killed.

    Meant to add, for now, we don't have coyote in our area, though I'm sure it's just a matter of time before they venture across the highway.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  5. ejcrist

    ejcrist Songster

    Oct 16, 2015
    Desert Hills, AZ
    I grew up in MD and lived in York, PA for a number of years so I'm familiar with the wildlife there. It sounds like it could be a fox or coyote to me but I wouldn't rule out red tail hawks since they can leave feathers in a pile too. I know you said you had the rooster but if he was the first to go the hens would've been left to defend for themselves. Full grown hens would be a bit of a challenge for red tails though. Coyotes have been in the area for a while now and they can be very reclusive, so not seeing one doesn't mean they aren't there. When I left in 2007 red fox were very prevalent and used to take a lot of birds from a farmer whose property I used to hunt. After trapping season ended the farmer's losses went to 0. Like Eggsoteric said, it could very well be a pair that did the killing. If it were me I'd go with a more secure setup and also install a trail cam so you can know for sure. Trail cams aren't that expensive and can be a wealth of information.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    4 ft electric poultry netting does wonders. If your in a free range situation now that's a good option. Animals are very curious. They will inspect anything new in the area. That's the beauty of it, as they literally nose around it's hit with 6K volts and will learn in that split second to avoid the fence. The coyote come around close to house at least once a year here. Woke me up this winter with a kill they made 200 ft from the house. Much of the year my birds are in an electric 4ft run.

    I read a funny thing about how electric fences are useless for coyote. "I spotted the coyote at a full run coming out of woods, it jumped the fence, picked up a hen in full stride then jumped the other side before going back into woods. The fence didn't slow it one bit!" This is funny both in the telling and if you realize the person was working up in fence protection. Had lost birds prior with a normal garden type fence. So in essence they trained the coyote to jump fences then put the money into electric for no reason as the coyote don't touch it. They already know it can be jumped and have no need to inspect it.
    1 person likes this.
  7. JackE

    JackE Crowing

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    I live in north east Md. And I can tell you a fox WILL take more than one, in an attack, and they have no problem carrying them off either. The chickens will not be able to avoid the fox, if he's after them, they are toast. And a rooster is nothing more than a feathered speed bump to them. I lost 9 in one day attack, and 7 in another one a few months later, after we let our guard down. The fox is a VERY opportunistic animal. They will watch and wait for their chance, and make the most out of it.
    Like others have mentioned, electrified poultry net was the answer for me also. I now have 650' of it surrounding the coop. The chickens have a nice big safe area to run around in, and I don't have to worry about them. They have been protected by that fence going on 5yrs.
  8. At the proper time of the year (when the foxes are looking to wean their pups) a dog and vixen fox may kill and carry off a dozen or more chickens each day. The bodies are carried back to the den and dropped for the pups to eat as needed. Sometimes a rotten meat smell will announce a fox den before your eyes can see it. As for a rooster, roosters are more effective against hawks that have attacked an adult full size hen. It will take some time and a lot of doing for most hawks to subdue adult hens and during this time a rooster may get it into his little bird brain that the hawk sitting on top of your hen is taking liberties with your hen that the rooster thinks that only he should enjoy. I know that you would like to think that roosters are chivalrous, but be not deceived, they are not.
  9. A little salted bacon wrapped around the fence every 10 feet or so will help train foxes and coyotes to avoid a new electric fence. I think that electric fences made with high tension style wire work better all around and can be customized more easily.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016

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