Free ranging hen vanished without a trace

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Petra Pancake, Jun 6, 2017.

  1. Petra Pancake

    Petra Pancake Songster

    My main flock consisting of four laying hens, a broody with her 3 tiny chicks and a Japanese Bantam rooster has been free ranging for the last 2 months. Today, my biggest hen (weighing about 3 kg) just vanished. No feathers, no blood, no visible signs of a fight. The others, including broody and chicks were fine. What could have gotten her and carried her off in the middle of the day? What would go for the biggest chicken of the flock?
    Dog? Fox? Hawk? They free range in a back garden that is partially fenced and has bushes, rocks and a hollow space under a deck for cover.
    Or would a hen just wander off and lose her way after 2 months in the garden? If it was a predator, can I still free range the others? They love it but during the day nobody is at home, we're working, so they're basically unsupervised. If I have to lock them up for their own safety, for how long would that be?
  2. I doubt she ran off.

    A dog would've left a lot of evidence, dogs normal kill for sport, so they usually don't eat the bird.

    A fox would've probably left feathers.

    A hawk is likely though
  3. Petra Pancake

    Petra Pancake Songster

    Thanks. Would a hawk or buzzard "remember" and come back for more? Birds of prey generally are rare here and don't seem to stay for long.
  4. Animals usually remember where they've gotten food before, so it might return
  5. Eggsoteric

    Eggsoteric Songster

    Nov 25, 2010
    If she's missing and hasn't wandered off, my guess would be fox or coyote. Hawks strike and eat their prey on the ground. Depending on the circumstances, I've had fox take a bird with no trace and I've had fox attacks with feathers left at the scene. Hawks aren't capable of carrying a chicken off. What ground predators do you have in your area?
    aart likes this.
  6. Chickens 4Ever

    Chickens 4Ever Songster

    May 28, 2017
    Ive gotten ducks missing without a trace, and I have owls and hawks. Probably one of them
  7. Chickens 4Ever

    Chickens 4Ever Songster

    May 28, 2017
    And, I have foxes in my yard every night. And when they do take a chicken, they always leave traces of feathers.
  8. Petra Pancake

    Petra Pancake Songster

    The good news: She's (still) alive. This morning I heard a scratching sound under my window - there she was, taking a leisurely dust bath. I had to deal with my kids first, so I just threw her a slice of bread through the window which she gobbled up. When I went to the back garden half an hour later to let the other chickens out, she was gone again without a trace. I suspect she's going broody and hiding somewhere out there. Not very safe - I hope I can round her up.
  9. CluckEwe

    CluckEwe In the Brooder

    Oct 8, 2014
    Chico California
    Hi Petra. How about an update? I had a chicken a few years ago shove off to a hidden brooding spot. She tried so hard, but was unsuccessful.
  10. Petra Pancake

    Petra Pancake Songster

    @CluckEwe, she has succeeded in hatching 8 chicks in her
    secret hiding place under the house, lost one and is now happily raising the other 7 :)
    I tried to upload a photo but it doesn't seem to work from my phone...

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