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Help, I came home to a chicken massacre...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by OregonChickie, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. OregonChickie

    OregonChickie In the Brooder

    Apr 20, 2011
    Am wondering what killed my girls, what to do with my one survivor and how to avoid this in the future.

    I had 3 girls, about 7 months old, raised from chicks. They have a very secure coop and attached run but during the day, we let them free range in the enclosed back yard. Around 4:00pm, something came and attacked them. We found one girl dead, neck possibly broken, she was basically untouched, had most if not all her feathers and no bites, claw marks, missing parts, etc. We are completely missing another girl but her feathers are all over the place - literally, from one side of the yard to the other, in the front yard and across the street! The attacker(s) obviously took her with them and it breaks my heart to think of how she suffered. The third is alive, we found her hiding in her coop in the corner. Her tail is completely gone. I don't see any blood, bites, scratches or anything but her backside and vent are completely exposed and she is scared. She was able to fly onto her roost and she dropped a soft egg without a shell, that's never happened before. I left her on her roost for the night, I thought maybe the familiarity of her coop would be good for her and since there are no other girls left, she won't be bothered.

    We have always allowed the girls to free range during the day. We have a completely fenced in back yard, not predator proof but enclosed like many neighborhood back yards. The girls put themselves away at dusk and we lock the door to the attached run and coop which are completely 100% predator safe. I want to get more chicks but will need to figure out a safer place for the girls. And then, will incorporating new girls into my one existing hen's environment be an issue? Will she be OK on her own without any company until we get new hens? Oh, my heart is just broken about this, it is our first attack and I don't ever want it to happen again. My kids cried at bedtime, my son is in my bed, wants to sleep with mommy tonight, my daughter said her heart was broken into a million pieces. I'm just trying to make sense of it so it never happens again.

    I've read up on the different types of predators and none of them seem to fit with what I came home to. We live in a suburban cul-d-sac, there is a small wooded undeveloped area next to us, we saw wild turkeys in our yard this morning, which is unusual and I wondered if maybe a raccoon had followed them and found our chickens but the attacks aren't consistent with what I read online about raccoon attacks. We live in Eugene, Oregon.

  2. Hot2Pot

    Hot2Pot Fox Hollow Rabbitry

    Feb 1, 2010
    West TN
    Sorry for your loss. Usually if an animal kills for fun, not food, it is a domestic animal like a dog. Some dogs can jump, climb or wiggle under fences, and they will keep coming back. Did you see tracks? It could also be other predators, for example hawks spread feathers all over when consuming prey. Maybe you could hot wire the outside of your fence. I would not let the remaining hen out.
  3. BrattishTaz

    BrattishTaz Roo Magnet

    Jan 8, 2011
    Tampa Area, Florida
    I am sooo sorry! [​IMG] I'm not sure what could have done this. I do hope you find out though. I think a friend or two for your remaining bird is a good idea. Perhaps you can find a couple around the same age.
  4. OregonChickie

    OregonChickie In the Brooder

    Apr 20, 2011
    Quote:Thank you both for your posts. Hot2Pot, I actually have a dog - an ancient 16 yr old yellow lab who is almost blind, mostly deaf and arthritic. He and the girls live quite peacefully together, it's a joy to see him sitting in the grass while they peck around him. Even though he would never attack the girls, I was able to rule him out easily because of the feathers in the front yard and across the street and also because the one body we found was in a corner behind the girls coop where he wouldn't fit. However, I wonder if he happened upon the attackers before they could finish their job and that's why we found the one body mostly untouched?

    Brattish, I see the benefit of getting some friends for our remaining hen but also want to make sure she has some alone time to heal. Or even see if she is able to heal before we bring new chicks into the mix.
  5. SkyWarrior

    SkyWarrior Songster

    Apr 2, 2010
    Wilds of Montana
    Sorry for your loss. That's really tough to go through.

    Free ranging is always a bit of a gamble, given you've got a fenced area that isn't secure. My guess is a fox. Dogs usually kill and leave a fair amount of carnage. A fox will take its prey elsewhere to eat.

    The hen that died with a broken neck probably ran or flew into a fence in a panic. I've had that happen by accident. The hen that's injured may take a while to recoup. I don't know if she'll get along with chicks -- many hens don't, but maybe she will.

    How to keep that from happening again? Free range your chickens only when you're home or can be on the lookout for predators. [​IMG] Even then, I've heard of people losing chickens when they're standing right there.
  6. OregonChickie

    OregonChickie In the Brooder

    Apr 20, 2011
    Quote:Skywarrior, thank you for your post. We are trying to figure out the best way to keep this from happening again for sure. I love that they free range but we will probably enclose a larger run for them instead and never let them out.

    Our remaining hen is a little worse off than we thought. I've (hopefully) attached a picture, any advice would be greatly appreciated. She came out of her coop all by herself, ate a little and drank a little so I have high hopes for her recovery.

  7. OregonChickie

    OregonChickie In the Brooder

    Apr 20, 2011
    Oh my, I'm so sorry that is such a huge picture! I tried to resize it but I guess it didn't work.

  8. egglicious

    egglicious Songster

    May 7, 2011
    I think it's a really good sign that she ate and drank. She will probably make it. If I were you I might bring her in with a heat lamp and give her some good high protein treats and some vitamin/electrolytes treated water.
  9. heatherkh

    heatherkh Chirping

    Jul 21, 2011
    Clackamas, Oregon
    You might want to clean/disinfect that wound and treat it with Neosporin, Vetricyn or Blue-Kote to stave off infection. I've seen chickens on this site heal from all kinds of horrid wounds!! Good news that she's eating and drinking. Chickens are tough creatures.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
  10. mamachicken888

    mamachicken888 Songster

    Sep 23, 2011
    East Oklahoma
    My bets are on a stray dog. I looked up the other day to see one coming across our yard toward our chicken pen. I think it was a Rottweiler. I didn't know I could move so fast! Anyway, that ended ok with me chasing him off.

    I'm really sorry you lost your girls. Mine are only 6 weeks and we have invested a lot of time, love and care into them. It would be awful to do that for 7 months and then loose them!

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