1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Gut pile in the garden

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by roostersgirl, Sep 25, 2014.

  1. roostersgirl

    roostersgirl New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    May 25, 2014
    I debated between posting here or in predators/pests, but since I want to believe my chickens did this themselves...
    We have 16 orpingtons hens (I don't think we have any roosters), about 6 months old. They're pretty, happy, docile girls. We keep them safe in a coop at night, but during the day, they have free access to the garden, which is probably about... 500 square feet, give or take?? and surrounded by a 6-foot wire fence with extra chicken wire around the bottom. Last night when we were putting the girls to bed, my husband and I found (well, the dog helped find) what appeared to be a gut pile in an area of the garden where the girls all like to congregate. We still have 16 chickens. It was fairly dark out, and my husband didn't want to leave the entrails all night, so he disposed of them in the woods, so I did not get a good look at them. This morning I re-counted the girls, who all seem happy and at ease, and came up with 16 again. Then I had a look around the garden, but found no fur, feathers, bones -- nothing to indicate that a massacre had occurred.
    So... do I assume my chickens killed something and left a gut pile? Do birds do that? Do they eat fur/feathers and bone??
    Or do I assume that some random psycho threw a gut pile into the center of our garden?
    I'm inclined to wish for the former, because the latter would make me lose sleep at night. :) But I'm clueless as to weather chickens would leave a little pile of organs just lying around...
    Thank you for any help and information!
     
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    16,515
    4,539
    481
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oregon
    My Coop
    I would not attribute that to your birds - if it were truly just guts that is not really something I'd expect from them.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,945
    3,104
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Chickens will eat a mouse whole after pecking it to break the bones and making it easier to swallow. They will peck larger frogs into bite-sized pieces. On larger animals they will eat meat, entrails, and some small bones but they will not eat fur or large bones. They might eat some feathers but it’s not likely they will eat the skin or most feathers of a larger bird. That just does not sound like something the chickens killed.

    Some predators will eat other parts first, but entrails are usually high on the preferred list for predators to eat. I don’t know how big that entrails pile was so I have no clue as to how big that animal was, but I can’t come up with any scenario where a predator killed an animal and left that behind while taking away the skin and major bones.

    I still can’t come up with a scenario for that to happen, but was that afterbirth and not entrails?

    Some of us feed dead animals to their chickens, various predators that we catch or maybe fresh roadkill. Chickens will clean up a surprising amount of that. But they don’t eat the fur or skin and they don’t leave entrails behind. Did someone possibly toss that in there to feed the chickens without telling you just to dispose of it? Even that is creepy to me.

    Sorry, but no, that does not sound right.
     
  4. roostersgirl

    roostersgirl New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    May 25, 2014
    Oh, crikey, that's not what I was hoping to hear...
    The size was small... something i would attribute to no larger than a rabbit or smallish cat, although I don't have a lot of experience with entrails. It had a ... gutty? smell. I so wish my husband had just left it or waited for a flashlight for further exploration. We live in a fairly country setting -- we have neighbors, but only 3 houses in our immediate area, and none of them strike me as the type to go around leaving ickies in other people's spaces, nor do they seem the cluelessy "helpful" types. From what I could determine by poking it with a stick in the dusk, it appeared to be intestine and stomach, all kind of still attached to each other. I'm giving myself the heebie-jeebies now. Guts don't gross me out per se, but random guts in my garden is just... too spooky!
    Sigh.
    Maybe it's time to get a trail cam since my fear of the unknown greatly outweighs my fear of the known!
    Thanks for your input! I knew chickens do enjoy meat now and again, but I figured what were left was the wrong parts to be their doing. Creepy!
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,703
    5,462
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I can think of a possible scenario....it could be that something(fox?) killed a rabbit(?) and was well into gutting and eating it but you (or something else) interrupted it, it took off with it's dinner but left some spilled guts behind.

    This wouldn't work if you are absolutely sure that there is no way for anything to infiltrate your garden fence.

    Not sure where you live (crikey-aussie?) or what kinds of animals you have around. Some critters could scale a 6 foot wire fence depending on how stable it is.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,522
    2,456
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Ah! A who-dunnit! My money is on a cat. I have a cat, going on 21 years old now, who has killed just about every sort of prey that isn't larger than he is, and dragged some of the "left-overs" into the house. I once found a partially disemboweled rabbit in my guest room closet.

    Cats, both feral and pets, roam at night, looking for moving critters. Most of the time, they eat very little of the kill, the main point of it being sport. Everything you describe fits perfectly pointing to a cat being your mystery villain. Unless you live on Mars, cats are everywhere.
     
  7. roostersgirl

    roostersgirl New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    May 25, 2014
    I never thought about the possibility of something being dragged in... I know rabbits can and do get in through a few areas (we secure them as we find them) so I suppose that is a possibility!
    We're actually in SW Michigan. "Crikey" is just a lot more polite than the first word that came to my mind. [​IMG]
     
  8. roostersgirl

    roostersgirl New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    May 25, 2014
    I'm sure we have ferals around, so I'm going to go with that. Amazing that a cat would drag anything into a garden full of chickens, but who knows... maybe they're friends and it was a present. That's far less sinister than any of the scenarios my over-active imagination conjured up!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,703
    5,462
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ah OK...lol... Hey neighbor, where are ya? I'm west of Paw Paw.

    I'm thinking it was not dragged in, but hunted there and maybe dragged out.....
    ......but who knows, it's hard to say without knowing the size of the organs and the condition of the fence.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,945
    3,104
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    If it only happens once, I'd consider it a mystery of life, just one of those strange unexplainable things that happens. If it happens again, then I’d start thinking about a game camera or something like that.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by