Help Identify Turkey Killer


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 5, 2009
Fort Wayne IN
I have had Royal Palms for almost 8 years with no problems. They are free range in a 3acre fenced yard with a large horse arena and stables to go into. Typically they roost very high. Last year I found my old Tom with his neck ripped out. This Spring I found one of my young Toms with his neck ripped out in the arena. Today it was one of my hens and I found the Tom alive but all the skin on is neck was ripped open. Besides the turkeys there are geese, ducks, chickens, peacocks, and guineas on my property. There is an occassional chicken or duck that goes missing but this seems to target my Turkeys.

I have dogs but dont believe they are the culprits given all of the other critters that are not being touched. There would also have to be a lot of blood loss and the dogs have nothing on them. There are foxes, coyotes, coons, possums, and bob cats that I know of around here.

Any ideas on what it might be? Also how can I treat the Tom - I irrigated the wound but it needs some disinfectant and am not sure what to use.

Thanks for your help
Set some live traps and keep them set (dry cat or dog food will work well for a while if traps are covered - dry).

Possibly raccoon. How much of killed tom's neck was `missing'? Our neighbor's had a BR hen that roosted in a huge, old, Osage Orange. A raccoon spooked it off the branch, in the dark, then climbed back down and killed hen by grabbing neck. When I went over to set trap for them the hen was prone on the snow, raccoon tracks around her. The neck was stretched out and nearly all the meat/skin was gone (could count the vertebrae from base of skull to torso). Weasels/fox will also target neck.

Healthy raccoons, on a `daytime' schedule, are more common in human intensive environments (Red Fox can show up at any time).

Blu-kote/betadine+water (1:10) solution can be used for cleaning. Probably should consider a systemic antibiotic (most feed stores sell injectable Penicillin).

Good luck!
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Sounds like something in the weasel family. They and run a tree faster than a squirrel and fight like a chainsaw. If it attacked at night, your turkeys didn't stand a chance! Maybe a electric fence a couple inches off the ground and a second strand a couple inches higher will get them if it set out beyond the pasture area's fence, in the clear. a third strand about 6 inches higher would also help if it's coons.

Trapping is your next option but you really need to figure out what's happening and what you're fighting. Any tracks?
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Helpful to know if attacks occuring during day or night. If night, then could be a natural predator of adult wild turkey which is great horned owl and it subdues by going after head and neck.
Owl most likely. Raccoon is also possible. Owls would be more than willing to fly into the arena after the turkeys.
Thank you for all the advice it has been very helpful. All the attacks have been at night. There have been no tracks that I could see. The first Tom had part of his shoulders by his neck torn open. The hen had all the skin ripped off around her neck and so did the Tom. The last Tom is still alive much to my surprise. Thanks for the betadine suggestion.

All the attacks seem to happen around the same area (lost a bunch of guineas in the same area last year, missing heads, ripped necks around 10 all at once). There are a lot of trees in that area.
This sounds like the work of a Great Horned Owl.

We have GHO here, I can here their "whoo whoo" calls at night. I have had them kill my ducks - they eat the head/neck first and then work on the crop area on down - kind of stripping the flesh away.

After 5 peaceful years, I had to start putting my ducks in the chicken coop at night. The GHO do not bother my geese.

Can you have the turkeys roost (I know easier typed than done) in an area where you can enclose them - so the owl cannot find them to attack?
Actually thats a good idea. They roost in my horse arena and I can close it off. Something so simple I never thought off. Thanks.

I have been told there are GHO around here.
When we moved in around 10 years ago I found a large GHO plastic decoy. Wonder if they had it because of Owls. Are those used to scare other Owls away?


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