headless chickens in broad daylight

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Just Fluff, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. Just Fluff

    Just Fluff Out Of The Brooder

    57
    2
    41
    Nov 30, 2008
    Question: what should I think of finding several beheaded chickens? One hen literally disappeared, along with my drake Khaki Campbell a few days later. Interspersed between the two disappearances, and one beheading later, I had two roosters beheaded and one hen that I found that had been chewed on, as well as beheaded.

    I did allow my chickens to free range in the afternoons. I have one English Shepherd male, just turned a year old, and one heeler pup, about 5 months old. Both are loose during the day, as we can't put up a fence yet. I have not had any problems all summer with any of my chickens disappearing, so was not expecting to lose any. Would a dog only take off the head and not do anything else with them? My ES has never touched the birds, and has always basically ignored them. I take him in the coop with me, and let him watch me petting the hens and talking to them. I have seen the heeler chase a few of the birds, but they always fly away and she doesn't pursue them. I am wondering if they killed them, more for the 'pack' mentality of two young dogs loose for a few hours a day.

    Currently, I am keeping the birds locked in their coop and courtyard, and they all seem to be content to stay there, for the most part. Even those that easily fly over the fencing now pretty much stay inside. (This place was a foreclosure, so there's a lot of work to be done!)

    We live out in the country, and I know that there are coyotes, skunks, raccoons and bobcats, as well as hawks and eagles. My ES will chase birds away from the area, from sparrows up to a buzzard. The way the buildings are set up, he could have been on the other side of the house when the attacks were made. The last rooster was killed in our hay barn, which is open on one side. There were quite a number of feathers a bale or two over, and the carcass of the rooster, minus his head. I saw the pup in that area but the body was cold, and she had been locked inside for most of the day, and the ES had also been in the house. None of the chickens act specifically afraid of either dog. I just really don't think my ES would do it, but I can see the pup do it. And would they just take off the head and leave the bird alone? We put the birds in our burn pile, but the pup kept dragging them out. (Can't burn right now due to weather conditions.) So I'm thinking if the pup killed the birds, she would chew the heck out of them. I haven't seen the ES anywhere near the carcasses.

    Any thoughts?

    (And before you beat me up for having loose dogs, I am working hard on getting a fence put up. We had a new pipe line go through our front yard recently, and as mentioned, the place had been abandoned for several years, so the fences, etc., are in bad repair. We will probably be putting them in a 6' x 12' run for now until we can fix the yard. Also, as time and money will allow, I want to build a large enclosed area in the pasture for my chickens to free range, or build some chicken tractors and put them out that way.)
     
  2. rosemary_2024

    rosemary_2024 New Egg

    9
    0
    7
    Nov 25, 2011
    Hi I'm new here and I don't know much about Chickens other than what I've learned by my own ...

    but this might help you ... I once watched a movie .. I forget what country this was in ... but on this very Isolated
    Island the Scientists could not find out who or what would eat the birds who's baby's they would have once a year,
    the adult birds would have, they finely found out by putting a camera near some of the birds nests .. found it was deer
    that would eat the heads off the birds .. for something that was only in the birds brains .. and they'd leave the body's ...
    untouched ... I don't know if this will help but I hope it does ...

    If I were you I'd keep the chickens inside till you can get a large area and put them in at night time as I do ...

    Oh and check out Cargo Netting to cover the top of there pen ... Army / Navy stores should have it if not check out
    the Murry McMurry hatchery... they carry that ... Good Luck ***

    Sincerely, Rose ***
     
  3. Just Fluff

    Just Fluff Out Of The Brooder

    57
    2
    41
    Nov 30, 2008
    Hmm, that is interesting, as all of the mule deer have come down from the mountains, and they are plentiful this year. That would be a bit odd tho'!

    The birds live in a concrete coop, with a courtyard, so they are pretty safe now. I can't really put anything over the courtyard, as there is a large tree that takes up about half of the area. It's great for shade in the summer! They all come back to the coop at night when I let them out to free range. I've never lost one in the courtyard or coop. Of course, now that I've said that, I'll lose half my flock! [​IMG]

    One thing that is interesting, is I haven't noticed any other prints, but then, I haven't looked really hard either, and the ground is mostly packed dirt or grass where they have disappeared or been beheaded.
     
  4. groundpecker

    groundpecker Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,143
    36
    164
    Jun 26, 2011
    Rison, Arkansas
    beheaded chickens in daylight reads like a hawk or other bird of prey. Other animals may come along and chew on or drag them off, once the hawk is gone. I suggest leaving your birds in the run for 2-3 weeks and set up live trap cages to catch ground dwelling chicken snatchers.
     
  5. Just Fluff

    Just Fluff Out Of The Brooder

    57
    2
    41
    Nov 30, 2008
    We do have lots of hawks around, of various breeds, as well as some eagles, so that is definitely a possibility. Thank you for your thoughts on this!

    I will be leaving them in their coop and run for at least a month or so. We do have a havaheart trap we could use, but I'm thinking we'll catch our cats! [​IMG]
     
  6. rosemary_2024

    rosemary_2024 New Egg

    9
    0
    7
    Nov 25, 2011
    Wind-Chimes

    The Birds are likely to do it too but myself I moved my Wind-chimes next to there little yard, and a smaller one inside the yard, when I noticed a hawk circling the area .. I have mine in there during the day, there's enough wind right now during the day to keep there moving and making noise ... even my rooster loves how they sound, he even with his beak pushed the chimes till they made noise once and he then did it again, and the hens have gotten used to there sounds ... might be something to buy there pretty cheep and you could hang them from pretty much anything ... just a Idea *

    Hope it's something that will help you with your problem ***

    Rose ***
     
  7. Kudu

    Kudu New Egg

    2
    0
    6
    Nov 16, 2012
    Hi !

    I had two headless chickens yesterday morning, I thought it could be a weasel, or a raccoon, apparently they feast on chicken brains for special vitamins to help with winter-survival!

    This afternoon another one was missing.

    A strange, very anxious shriek woke me up early today; and then silence.....It was right before daybreak, I went out but could not find anything...

    I ran into a giant owl tonight when i went to get some eggs from the coup...could it be?

    Anybody out there with the same experience?

    Ps. They were white chickens....The speckled and blue ones are still fine!
     
  8. masufa

    masufa New Egg

    3
    0
    7
    Jun 18, 2012
    We had that happen a couple of years ago, I lost 2 ducks and 3 chickens.. We figured out it was an Owl .I heard that if we had left the body there he would have come back for it the next time. I started locking up the chickens and ducks at night and haven't lost any yet.
     
  9. Kudu

    Kudu New Egg

    2
    0
    6
    Nov 16, 2012
    Thank you Musafa....I rest my case...then :)
     
  10. Pretty Pony

    Pretty Pony Out Of The Brooder

    84
    1
    43
    Dec 2, 2008
    Ft. Smith, AR
    I lost 4 SLW's about a month ago. I found 2 bodies, one head-less, the other with wounds over the back. The other 2 I never found anything but a pile of feathers.

    I have seen a hawk around, and since this was in daylight hours, that's what I suspected. I lock the flock up at night but day time, they are all out. I too have a large tree growing in the middle of a cemented pen ( I converted an old dog kennel into my coops) so to cover it would be useless with all the limbs that fall down whenever the wind blows.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by