Headless in the yard - still a coon?

Shiloh Acres

Chirping
9 Years
Jul 16, 2010
211
2
99
Only one of the half-grown chickens was small enough to squeeze out of the run, and she managed to get out while I was gone to town today. I found her beside the rabbit pen, headless but otherwise intact. The attack was daytime. She was about 4-5 month old silky x standard pullet.

Was it still likely a coon? I don't think she was pulled through the wire, I think she got out and something killed her. Yard is fenced, but not totally safe. Normally they are in the run of welded 3x4 wire with netting on top except when I can be out there in the evening.

Any chance it could still be a weasel? I hope not, as those concern me more for the rabbits' and even geese's sakes. Their cages and coops should be coon proof, but weasels can get in. And I have three litters of rabbit kits at the moment. Almost no chicks left, thanks to a bird swooping down, two snakes, and now this whatever-it-is.


Only one single baby chick, and her mama worked so hard to hatch her she may never recover, so I want her to keep that chick. I've been keeping that pair in the garage at night since the snake incidents.

Thanks.
 
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JoePa

Songster
Apr 18, 2011
267
36
164
Lehigh County Pa.
Coons usually are out at night - very rarely do they wander around during the day - maybe a cat - a fox would have taken the whole bird - a coyote would also take the whole thing - a hawk would probably fly away with it unless it was too big to carry - same with a skunk they are usually only out at night - so I would guess a cat or a hawk - hope it isn't a weasel - if it was you got a problem - those things are killing machines and hard to trap - good luck
 

Shiloh Acres

Chirping
9 Years
Jul 16, 2010
211
2
99
Maybe a cat. I did wonder about a coon out in the daytime. I'm sure they are here, but I have yet to see one. Cats are another matter. They are actually my chief chicken predator. I've not had trouble with fully grown chickens and cats before, but I kept losing chickens here to the point I don't free range anymore. My neighbor has no less than five feral females that breed uncontrollably, and I actually caught two adult toms in the coop and run one day (fortunately the chickens made plenty of noise and I got there before they got one.).

They hunt cooperatively sometimes. My guineas usually see them and let me know.

Well, if it was a cat, I'd prefer that to a weasel. My chicken coop is hopefully weasel-proof, but I had to build for the geese and rabbits to keep out coyotes, so the cages are strong but the openings are larger.

I'm starting to think about cat traps. I hate to do it, but she produces dozens of kittens a year and the situation quickly gets out of hand. I do everything I can to protect my chickens, and having lost perhaps half the flock over the course of a year is really starting to bug me.

Thanks for the replies. And I surely hope it's NOT a weasel!
 

aprophet

Songster
10 Years
Jan 12, 2010
3,798
36
239
chesapeake Va.
I use a peice of plywood I dust it with flour or corn starch or baby powder and then I put a marshmallow with a little molasses on it and a little bit of sardine right beside it and then look and see what kind of tracks are there the next morning this tells me what could be the problem not necessarily what is the problem put picture of the prints/tracks you find
 

Shiloh Acres

Chirping
9 Years
Jul 16, 2010
211
2
99
Thanks. I'll give that a try tomorrow. Had a bit of trout tonight, so I'll see if that works in place of sardines. If not, I have a can of sardines too. I just hope I don't attract anything more, but in general my animals are fairly secure against known predators, as long as they stick to their usual habits. Just wish this little girl hadn't squeezed out of the run. I'm going to expand it soon and add poultry wire to the bottom when I do, so I no longer have to worry about chicks straying through.
 

Love my Critters!

Songster
11 Years
Apr 15, 2008
820
5
151
Carlsbad, NM
Skunks do that here where I live. They only eat the head and leave the body. I know this sounds bad but I usually use the body as bait so I can kill the stupid skunk the next day.
 

greenfamilyfarms

Big Pippin'
11 Years
Feb 27, 2008
8,650
92
303
Elizabethtown, NC
Owls will also just eat the head. Unfortunately, owls are a protected species and can't be destroyed. If you do find out its an owl, you can call in the wildlife commission and they will remove it.
 

bryan99705

Songster
May 16, 2011
1,493
21
184
North Pole, Alaska 99705
Quote:That's a excellent way to determine what your visitor is and I would suggest putting it in spot that is most shielded where a cautious animal would approach from. Also if they know they like the sweets on the tracking board, it will draw them into a trap easier.

It does sound like a skunk kill, good luck. If it is a skunk, you might want to use the old school trap of a section of 6" stove pipe buried upright, flush in the ground with bait in the bottom. They dive in to get the bait and cannot back out and are stuck. Then it's up to you if it get relocated
or dies


Also coons don't read the rule book
about only coming out at night, especially if they have little ones

As for cats, get a good air rifle and blow them away!
 
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Shiloh Acres

Chirping
9 Years
Jul 16, 2010
211
2
99


I'll definitely use the board. Have skunks and owls here too. In fact, I think we have pretty much every north American predator, though the bears and cougars are pretty widely spaced. Well ... Probably no wolves either.

And I have a variety of farm animals to protect. Of course the chickens are the most vulnerable.

Hopefully I can find out what the current threat is today, and deal with it. Thanks for the suggestions. We are in fact crawling with skunks, and I'd never heard of that trap method, so also very helpful.

I do hope it's not an owl. As long as they hunt at night, my poultry is locked up. But daytime the geese are always out, and in the late afternoon I let the chickens out of the covered run. I don't know what time this happened yesterday, as the city is a long drive and I got home after 6pm.

Thanks again!
 

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