Death from Post-Traumatic Hawk Stress?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by kateseidel, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. kateseidel

    kateseidel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 9, 2010
    A year of blissfully happy free-ranging. About three weeks ago, a big hawk moved in - not sure if it is a Cooper's or Red-Tail, but I suspect a Cooper's. Found one hen dead in the woods, with a broken back, and one missing - I assumed a dog because I could not imagine a hawk chasing a hen into the woods. We secured the property perimeters to make sure no dogs got back in.

    On Saturday about 8:30 a.m. we heard a ruckus but did not think anything was amiss. 20 minutes later I went into the pasture to find a pile of Buff Orpington feathers, and many piles of Silver Laced Wyandotte feathers. On the other side of our electric fence we found the body of a SLW - her back was torn up and she was under a tree. I think a hawk hit an Orpington and lost it, hit a Wyandotte and lost it, and then hit Bertha, got airborne enough to clear the fence and then came down with her. I assume it was coming back for a meal later when I interupted. There is simply no way a canine could have gotten under my electric fence into the pasture, gotten a hen, and then come back out under the electric fence.

    I found one of my SLW with some damage - missing back feathers but could not find any obvious injuries. She would not leave the coop, would not eat or drink, and on Tuesday morning I found her dead. The Opringtons all seemed fine; this morning I found one dead in the coop.

    Aside from being absurdly distraught over my beloved hens dying, I am at a loss as to what happened to the last Orpington. Is it likely that the stress from the aborted attach 4-days earlier killed her; maybe she had an injury I just couldn't see or feel? Maybe there is now a horrible disease sweeping through my flock and they are just all going to die and my family will call me the Grim Reaper...

    I never expected to love these hens like this and it feels like my heart is breaking.
     
  2. Bat Cave Silkies

    Bat Cave Silkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 11, 2010
    Bat Cave, NC
    First~~I'm very sorry for your loss...

    When hawks (and other birds of prey) attack, their talons "squeeze" very hard into the body of their prey. Even if their prey manages to get away, they have usually suffered internal injuries. On a chicken--with all those feathers--you may not even see the puncture marks from the squeeze. That type of injury can take a couple of days before the chicken dies. Also, chickens DO die from stress/fright.

    Either way, your birds are gone....maybe their free-ranging should be limited in some way?
     
  3. Speceider

    Speceider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 4, 2011
    One possibility would be capture myopathy. Generally, CM results from stress that causes high lactic acid resulting in death of muscle cells, including heart cells. There isn't any way to assess an individual's risk. It's thought that an imbalance of selenium-vitamin E is involved. Diagnosis is based upon blood tests showing extrmely high CPK values.

    Clint
     
  4. tiffanyg2

    tiffanyg2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 26, 2011
    SC
    So sad.... I'm so sorry about your hens. [​IMG]
     
  5. panner123

    panner123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    Just one old man's opinion, but I think any stress related death or illness in either animals or humans is BS. For if that were the case, there would be NO wild life living today. Every day life for wild life brings some form of danger or attack. In humans I think stress problems are just a way to say, I am lazy do my job for me and give me my money and meds. Those that (the shrinks) are just as lazy and use stress as a way to get return visits. An animal or person may have a real illnes that is covered up with the word stress and given a pill to mask the problem. This goes on for years with the real problem never addressed.
     
  6. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

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    May 18, 2009
    Brooksville
    Hi -

    I'm sorry you're having hawk problems. It's not fun to lose a beloved pet, even if it is "only a chicken." I love each and every one of mine and have lost a few to hawks in the past.

    By the way, your hawk is probably a red-tailed hawk. Cooper's hawks are smallish, so if you have seen a "big" hawk, it's not a Cooper's. I know that doesn't help, your chickens are still gone.

    One think I do that has minimized my hawk problems is I wait until late morning to let them out and put them back in before evening. Morning and evening are the main feeding times of hawks and owls, although they do occasionally hunt during the day, too. When I used to lose chickens to hawks, it was usually before 10:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. I also have plenty of bushes and other things for them to run under when hawks or owls are about.

    The only sure thing is not to free-range, but I think the benefits of free-ranging well outweigh the risks!
     
  7. kateseidel

    kateseidel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sjisty - I think you are right on target. I have waffled on red-tail vs. Cooper's - have poured over pictures trying to decide, although it does not really matter. It's a big bird that needs to move on and dine somewhere else.

    All of my losses have been in the morning, usually before 9:00 a.m. and while the hens are not very pleased, I have been keeping them in until after 10:00 a.m. My philosophy going into chickens was that a chicken would be happier living a short life free-ranging, than a longer life cooped up 24x7. And since their only job is to eat my bugs, the arrangement worked out for both of us. Of course, that philosophy has taken a bit of a setback when confronted with the reality of predator loss. For the record, the hens seem much less impacted by the loss of their flock-mates than I am.

    I may have over-socialized my hens.....
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

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    Brooksville
    Me, too!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. kateseidel

    kateseidel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 9, 2010
    This made me laugh and laugh and run to get my husband to prove it's not just me!! Thanks for sharing!
     
  10. flowergirl60

    flowergirl60 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2011
    Austin Tx
    I'm sorry for your loss.[​IMG]
     

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