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Help determine what got 2 of my hens, 1 day, 1 night?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by turbokev, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. turbokev

    turbokev Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 7, 2010
    NH
    We’ve kept chickens for a few years now and until 3 weeks ago we have only lost one..
    That loss was to a Coopers Hawk in the dead of winter during the day.. After killing one of my Brahmas, he went in to the coop, through the little access door the chickens use! I trapped him in there and he was relocated. Never had a hawk problem again.
    My coop is a 12x8 built off the back of my garage.. I’m in a suburban area, not farm land or anything.
    The coop is also in a fenced in area, 4 feet high that is about 24 x 24 off the back of the garage. It isn’t specifically for protection, more to keep the hens from wandering during the day.

    Well, I’ve lost 2 hens in the last month, both with exactly the same ‘symptoms’ except for time of day..
    One was lost overnight and when I found the carcass the next morning, it had obviously been dead for several hours based on the bugs etc on the scene.. The other one was today, about 3:30 in the afternoon.
    The first one was lost overnight after I forgot to lock the door in to the coop.. that door is about 12” wide and 18” tall at ground level.. So whatever got the hen had to go over the fence, in to the coop, get the chicken (a big black cochin) and then carry her back out over the fence. About 40 feet from the fenced area, I found a lot of feathers in a circle, then another 20 feet away, another circle with a lot of feathers.. Another 20 feet away I found the carcass. No damage at all to the head, neck or breast. The feathers were stripped off her lower belly and between her legs. The only flesh damage was in that area as well. (and that wasn’t much at all) That was about 3 weeks ago and I have been diligent to lock the chickens in the coop every night since then.
    Well today the chickens were out in the pen while we were at church.. they are out every day from morning till dusk, so that’s not unusual. When they go in to roost, I lock them in and open the little door the next morning so they can come and go in to the coop as wanted.. their food and water is in there.
    When we got home from church around 4pm, my neighbor came over with a handful of black and white feathers and said “do these belong to one of your chickens?”.. they did.. we had just got a silver laced Wyandotte 10 days ago at the Deerfield fair.
    He said there was a pile of feathers in his yard, and that he had heard a ruckus a half hour earlier but didn’t see anything till he came out a little later and found the feathers..
    I walked over and about 40 feet from the pen was a circle of feathers.. another 10 feet or so was another circle of feathers.. then around the front of the house I found the hen.. she was stripped of feathers in the exact same spot as the Cochin.. and had some flesh wounds there in the same spot.
    Unfortunately, she was still alive but was obviously mortally wounded. I put her down and cleaned up all the feathers from his yard.. what a drag. She also had no damage to her head, neck or breast area.
    Any idea what predator would act in that way, and hunt both in the day and night? I’ve been searching threads all afternoon and I’m not finding anything that is the same..

    I live in Southern NH.. near the Exeter river. I’ve never seen a raccoon or a fisher cat, or an opossum.. but I’m not ruling any of them out. There is a large wooded area near us, and I know we have fox and even a bobcat in our town that people have taken pictures of. But checking the methods of these predators, the kills don’t match them..

    Anyone have a similar experience, or have any ideas about what might have attacked in the day the way they did?
    I’m getting a couple good sized traps tomorrow just in case it is something like a raccoon or opossum..
    Thanks for any help~
     
  2. N F C

    N F C Home in WY Premium Member

    33,402
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    Dec 12, 2013
    Wyoming
    Hi Kev,

    Sorry for the loss of your birds. Here are a couple of links that may help you identify what got your chickens:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-predators-pests-how-to-protect-treat-your-flock

    http://www.raising-chickens.org/chicken-predators.html

    There is always a danger when free ranging birds as there are a lot of predators that would like nothing better than a chicken dinner. And unfortunately, once they figure out where they can get one, they often come back for more. You might consider a covered run for your birds and beefing up the security of your coop.

    I wish you luck with your efforts.
     

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