Did my chickens kill each other?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by 4SillyChicks, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. 4SillyChicks

    4SillyChicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 19, 2013
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Hey everybody, I have a question I'm really hoping to get answered. We raise backyard chickens in the city. This morning, we found two of our chickens dead: one Buff Orpington and one Golden Comet. I believe they were killed around midnight, because I heard them making a lot of noise around this time. I didn't get up and check on them though, (which I now regret), because some of my hens lay at odd hours, including at night, and when the noise eventually stopped, I just thought that she had finished laying. The really weird thing is that all of our other chickens (we had 6 before these two died) were still in their roost, and I don't think that if a predator killed our two chickens they would have left the other 4 alone. I also don't know how a predator would have lured our two hens outside of their roost. Our chickens are also in a fenced-in enclosure with a mesh covering over the roof, making it difficult for any predator to get inside.This makes me think that maybe our hens killed each other. There was obviously a struggle, since feathers are all over the pen, and even an empty plastic container that we had once used for water had been moved!
    We have had a chicken killed before; she was missing her head and her body was split open. We figured that this was done by a cat that had gotten in through the roof of the pen (part of the mesh covering hadn't been tied down). However, these two chickens were mauled and a bit bloody where their feathers had been plucked out, but they still had their heads and had not been eaten at all. This led me to believe that maybe the two fought each other to the death, since that would explain both why they had left the roost in the middle of the night and why their bodies had not been eaten. However, our chickens have never acted very aggressively in the two years that we've had them. The only weird thing that's happened is that all except one of our Buffs has had all of her butt feathers plucked out (most of them have completely bare butts). Seeing how only one of our Buffs still has her butt feathers, I would have suspected she was possibly aggressive, but she wasn't the Buff who was killed this morning.
    Please, if you have ANY idea about what happened to my two hens, let me know. I don't know if their sick (none of them have been laying a lot lately), or if something mysteriously lured them out of the roost at night and killed them, or if they killed each other. If they did kill each other, then I have no idea why, and it's driving me crazy!
    Anyway, sorry for this extremely long post. Again, if you have any ideas, let me know!!

    P.S. Let me know if want any more details.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I very much doubt they killed each other. No, that did not happen. Something got in there and killed them.

    What? I don’t know. It’s unusual for anything to kill them and not eat something. Members of the weasel family will do that though. They will kill for fun, usually by attacking the head. You might look at the heads and see if you see any bite marks. That’s my first guess. It sounds like they have light all night. That might explain why they were outside.

    Many predators will only kill one or two and leave the rest for later, raccoon, bobcat, fox, skunk, possum, who knows what else. These different predators have different things they usually do so you can maybe narrow it down a bit, but not all read the manual. They don’t always follow the trends. Or they may have been frightened off in the middle of what they were doing.

    That first one with the head chewed sounds like a raccoon more than anything else, though I can’t be sure what it was.

    If you can, I’d strongly suggest you make sure your coop is as predator-proof as you can make it and secure them in there at night. Coops are normally easier to make predator proof than runs.
     
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    So sorry for your loss. I very much doubt that your hens fought to the death with each other, especially at night. You've got a predator problem1 Night time coops need to be solid, with all openings covered in 1/2 inch hardware cloth well attached, and good latches on doors. What is your setup like? Something needs fixing, before tonight. Set live traps and a video camera if possible. Good luck, mary
     
  4. heidisue

    heidisue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not fight to the death, it was a predator. Do you have light at night? If they lay at night I would guess you do. That could explain them moving around after dark. Or, the predator could have been scared off by something after the kill. Or it killed for "fun", weasels, cats, and raccoons can do that.
     
  5. 4SillyChicks

    4SillyChicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 19, 2013
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Hey everybody, thanks for all of your helpful ideas! We do have some light around our house from the street lights and neighbors houses. In fact, when I heard our chickens last night, one of our neighbor's lights was on; maybe that light woke up our chickens and made them want to come outside? We are definitely going to try putting up a video camera to see if we can try to catch this predator. When our chickens were young, we locked the door to their roost (which is inside the larger enclosure). Lately though, we have been leaving the roost door open; we'll definitely be closing and locking it tonight (and probably from now on)! Thanks again for all of your help!:)
     
  6. Tara80

    Tara80 Out Of The Brooder

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    I would agree that it was a predator. I know that when a raccoon was trying to reach through the chain link in one of my chicken pens, it scared them enough for them to actually leave their roosts in the middle of the night and run around (which is what the raccoon wanted); then the raccoon was able to grab them as they were running around and pull them up against the chain link to kill them.
    Not saying it was a raccoon, but it definitely was something that scared them out of their roost - which would explain them being outside; it's a predator ploy.
     
  7. Fowl Menagerie

    Fowl Menagerie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like a weasel. They can get into much smaller openings than a raccoon or dog, cat. The more noise and activity your chickens make the more they will kill. They go into a frenzy. I've lost as many as 20 birds in one night to a weasel until I finally was able to eliminate him. I keep a light on at night in the chicken pen and this is not good in this situation as the birds can see what is going on and become much more excited, causing more losses. If this a weasel he will probably come back. Good luck with catching him.
     
  8. 4SillyChicks

    4SillyChicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 19, 2013
    Lexington, Kentucky
    A lot of you have said that maybe a weasel killed my chickens. I always thought that weasels bit the head off of the chicken, and mine still had their heads. Is this not always the case?
     
  9. Fowl Menagerie

    Fowl Menagerie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It wasn't the case in my situation. He just bit them around the head and neck and left them to bleed out. Other than blood spots on dead birds they were whole.
     
  10. 4SillyChicks

    4SillyChicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 19, 2013
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Thanks! I'll definitely check the heads and necks of my chickens to see if they have any bite marks.
     

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