Disappearing chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mlterry, May 24, 2016.

  1. mlterry

    mlterry Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 29, 2015
    Last week I lost a hen. I was at home and I let the chickens out of the pen. When I put them away that evening one was missing. I didn't hear anything and I was outside with them most of the time. Well, today my sister let them out before I got home. When I drove up most of the chickens came to greet me but I didn't see my buff orpington or my protector roo. I started calling and looking for them and found the buff in the chicken house. Then I saw lots of feathers from the roo, but no blood or body. My sister didn't hear any type of attack. Does anyone have any idea of what might be getting my chicks? Are predator attacks worse in the spring? Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    My guess would be fox or coyote. Predators have babies that need feeding in the spring. You may want to keep our chickens locked in their run for a few weeks to discourage whatever is snatching them.
  3. mlterry

    mlterry Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 29, 2015
    Thanks so much. I thought it might be a fox but I didn't think they would be out during the day so much.
  4. Godsgrl

    Godsgrl Ostrich wrangler

    Aug 27, 2007
    at the zoo usually
    We are currently battling a fox. She took 2 chicks; one overnight, one in the morning. We've seen this thing frequently during the day. Currently have a trap set for her. There are no signs left behind, just missing birds. According to DNR, we are allowed to trap and dispatch this animal, but NOT to relocate it. Good luck
  5. mlterry

    mlterry Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 29, 2015
    I'm sorry to hear about your chicks. I hope you are able to get the fox. I'm keeping mine in right now since I'm not home and it just about broke my sister's heart that she let them out and Roo disappeared. When looking at the buff orpington that was staying in the coop when everyone else was out we found that she had been attacked. Under one of her wing's the skin is torn and flapping and there is a puncture from a tooth. My sis and I are treating her with Neosporin but a friend at work said that Vetercyin was really good for healing wounds. I went to Tractor Supply at lunch and got their last bottle.
  6. jessicaw12

    jessicaw12 Just Hatched

    May 25, 2016
    We had a fox and her kits wipe out our flock. We let our chickens free range during the day and locked them up at night. Came home from work and only one of my girls was waiting for me. I walked over to the neighbors to see if they were over them and came across piles of feathers (no blood and no tracks). So we figured something had gotten them; I was devastated. 1 rooster and 3 hens gone. Rosie was the only one we had left; she must have been off laying an egg because she was always with the rooster.

    We kept her locked up ALL day until we got home and would only let her out when we got home. She was only allowed out 1 hour before roosting time. She HATED it. We got some 3 month old pullets and they stayed locked up 24-7. My husband decided to be "helpful" one morning and feed the chickens because I was running late. He let Rosie out like we used to do. I saw her as I was pulling out of the driveway. There was no way I would have been able to catch her (he had just let her out and she wanted to scratch; no way to temp her with food AND I was 7 1/2 months pregnant). I called my husband and fussed at him; he said she would be fine and he would come home on his lunch break to grab her and put her back in the coop. I called him around lunch and he told me the neighbors called him around 10 to say that they saw Rosie get taken by a mommy fox and her babies. The neighbors/ our landlords are elderly and would not have been able to stop the attack. Our coop is completely predator proof and we are going to set traps for foxes soon.

    We have all sorts of predators: hawks, coyotes, bobcats, dogs, foxes and snakes. We had not had a problem in 2 years of having our chickens free range until this year. A neighbor down the road had their boxer puppy attacked by a fox; they had let it out in the backyard to go potty.

    We have our babies for now so no eggs for a couple months. We probably wont let them free range. they will only be allowed out while being supervised. Both attacks happened during the day
  7. Birdinhand

    Birdinhand Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2016
    I grew up on a farm and when I got old enough I borrowed an incubator and started a flock, I was probably 10. we had plenty of space for free ranging and my parents didn't want to pay high feed bills so I let them out each day, thinking it was night predators that were the likely problem. much to my dismay, we started loosing chickens, one by one. then one day after school I heard a commotion and ran down to the barn to see what was going on. I got half way down the hill and along came a hen, running for her dear life and after her was a fox, in broad daylight, it practically ran across my feet giving hardly a care that I was there. it was spring and likely finding food for it's kits. I was devastated and gave up with chickens shortly after that.

    fast forward 30 something years to last year, I built the fort knox of chicken coops with hardware cloth wall to wall and across the ceiling and two feet into the ground, angled at a 45 degree angle toward the outside. we have a dog and kayotes, hawks and live on a steep hill, so unfortunately our hens have to be cooped up 24/7. I may create a fenced in area and give free ranging another try but I'm going to wait till my kids are older and can handle the prospects of losing some of our beloved hens.

    I have friends who think I'm ridiculous and paranoid, telling me that they have been free ranging for "a long time now" without a single issue", only to then lose everything to coons with kits. hungry parents are a challenge, hungry parents desperate to feed their babies are amazingly persistent and bold.
  8. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    I'm guessing fox, too. Supposedly May is the worse month for losses by Fox. They have kits to feed and are out all hours of the day and night looking for food to feed them.
    For those of you setting traps for foxes, good luck with that. Foxes are notoriously successful at avoiding traps. We have tried just about every kind and have caught raccoons and opossum (These last two being relatively easy to catch.), but no foxes.
  9. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    Kalispell MT
    We get foxes regularly. All they leave is a pile of feathers. Shoot one and a few months later another comes to take its place. Finally bought electric poultry netting. Haven't lost a bird that stayed inside the netting since I put it up last year. Had one bird that insisted on flying over the netting and the neighbors saw the fox take her. The netting gives the girls 1,000 square feet of area to roam in. So much nicer for them than having to stay in the run all day long.
  10. mlterry

    mlterry Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 29, 2015
    Well, as I said earlier, I'm keeping them up right now. I might let them out in the evening for a few minutes soon but only when I can be right there. My hen is recuperating but still stays away as much as possible from the others during the day. My rooster, Rudy, is learning to crow. He never tried when the other rooster was there. It's funny to hear him and his crow is so much lower pitched than Roo's was. Rudy seems to be happy to assume the job as "rooster of the flock." I will probably start letting the chick out more later in the summer when there are not so many babies to be fed by the predators.

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