Help! Eight chickens just dissappeared

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by alex-w, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. alex-w

    alex-w New Egg

    Mar 30, 2012
    I am a new chicken farmer that really does not know much yet. I had 8 four week old chickens in a large chicken tractor type coop and when I got home this morning I found the door open and all of them gone. The wire holding the door to the outside coop closed was broken, and the door partially open. We have a dog tha has been very interested in them, but I cant see her killing all 8 and leaving no signs. How far will chickens run if they get out? Is there any chance any may have survived? I have looked all over our three acre place and roamed parts of the neighboring land and see no signs of feathers or anything. My three your old is going to be heartbroken!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    :frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us, just wish it were under better circumstances. :frow

    Eight 4 week olds all gone without a trace and the door ripped open. Probably happened overnight. That eliminates some things, but there is still a pretty good list of possible suspects.

    I have had a hen come back the next morning after a dog attack in mid-afternoon. I have no idea where she spent the night, but she was wanting back with her buddies the next morning. From what you describe, I would not hold out much hope, but there is a possibility. If it happened at night, they probably could not see to get to safety. I wish I could be more positive.

    Them being only 4 weeks old makes it a little harder. They are still small enough that something could eat them without a trace where with larger chickens there would probably be traces. I hate raccoons and they are a possibility, but I think a raccoon would probably eat them on the spot or at least not carry them that far. And I would not expect them to eat all 8, even at that size, though they could kill them. Not all predators read the book and act typical for their species, but we are only guessing.

    I don't think a snake would eat that many, plus a snake might have trouble ripping the door open. That depends on how strong the door was and how big the snake was.

    Some member of the weasel family like maybe a mink could do it, but I think they would leave evidence. I don't know how likely a wolverine or bear are where you live. Those might be a bit exotic. I'm not sure how a bobcat would act. I don't know their traits.

    My real suspects are dog, coyote, or fox. Any of those are capable of eating them or carryiing them off for later and they are pretty strong. It is possible something else took them back to their cubs, kits, or something too. It's early in the year many places, but maybe some of them have babies to feed.

    This is real hard, especially with the child. I really am sorry this happened.
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Welcome to BYC [​IMG]
    So sorry to hear about your chicks. Hope they come back [​IMG]
    I've had a predator in my chick pen a few weeks ago. Killed 5 youngsters and I couldn't find a trace of them. And I looked everywhere. It was terrible. We set a trap and caught two beasties so far, lost another hen 3 days ago, but I think we're winning.
    I found you cannot secure a chicken house/run too much when you have predators around. I spent a lot of money on materials for the chick pen, but time and determination won there, sadly.
    Hope you weren't put off keeping chickens by this experience. Heartache and losses are part of the package, but when things are good, they're great!
  4. aprophet

    aprophet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2010
    chesapeake Va.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  5. Amy S

    Amy S Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sorry to hear this.

    How does the wire look? Is it gnarled, twisted, or clean cut? How easy is it to view/access your coop in regards to neighbors and passersby? The culprit could also be of the human variety...
  6. bluedubloonfarm

    bluedubloonfarm Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 3, 2012
    Sorry to hear about your chicks, last year we lost everything from 4wk old chicks to full adults, most of it was the neighbors 2 dogs and some of it was a coyote. The difference between the two was usually that a dog attack was sloppy, heads eaten off, feathers everywhere or carcasses eaten in the vicinity, sometimes there were no bodies with slobbery feathers everywhere, sometimes there were bodies. Coyote attack usually left a very neat pile of feathers a ways from the catch with absolutely nothing left but feathers. Scour the area and see if you can even find any feathers anywhere, a dog would most likely not like the fact that a 4wk old chick is mostly feathers. Raccoon or fox is another option, but I haven't got any experience with those. Hope you can find the culprit!
  7. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas

    this thought crossed my mind when I read your post too...that, and pictures of the damage might be helpful...
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  8. alex-w

    alex-w New Egg

    Mar 30, 2012
    Thanks for all the replies. It sure is frustrating, since I spent so much time trying to make my coop predator proof. The wire looks like a pretty clean break. I will definately be using heavier and more wire in the future. The coop is out of view from the road, but I guess human predators are a possiblilty. I don't know why anyone would want to steal chickens, but I guess people will steal anything. There are lots of coyotes, foxes, dogs,coons, etc in the area. I'm going to try again, I just went to town to get some more chicks. They were out of the breeds I wanted, but I came home with two California whites chicks and two Polish crested chicks anyway. Hopefully my three year old will approve and it will make things better when he sees them this evening.
  9. AmyLM

    AmyLM Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2011
    Buckley washington
    I would defiantly think you got chicken napped. :( predators will dig under, tear through, and generally find in any way possible... not cleanly break the wire on only the door. THATS human. :( I would report it to the police and tell your neighbors what happened. Maybe someone saw something.
  10. Amy S

    Amy S Chillin' With My Peeps

    We may be going with a padlock (still building our coop) style closing system. They don't cost much and rule out any non-human predators.

    Alex-w...Yep, don't give up! We learn, and that makes us all the more dilligent in protecting our flock Congrats on you new birds. [​IMG]

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