Help Identify what is getting my pullets...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by queenspromise, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. queenspromise

    queenspromise New Egg

    Jan 2, 2013
    I had 70, 4 month old pullets that have a large coop they are lock in at night, and then a large outside enclosure that is board and wire and about 4 1/2 feet in height. I let them out early morning at about 6 am and it is still dark, and then I lock them in at night around 6 30p, and it is dark then!

    Day 1 - found 2 bodies along the far side of the fence but inside the enclosure. It looks like the first one was killed and eaten on the same spot. Head and neck had little to no trauma, split from the chest to the pelvis wide open with mostly everything looks like it had been eaten. If you flip the bird chest down, from the back it looked like it was perfectly fine. Minimal feather plucked. Couldn't find scratches or bite marks on the body, little to no blood, didn't look mauled

    #2 body- looks like it had been killed near #1 but then moved closer to the coop... the head had no trauma. The neck to the chest had been ripped open but looks like nothing was eaten or very minimal. Also didn't look mauled, minimal feathers missing, no blood couldn't find teeth marks or scratches on the body.

    Couldn't find any footprints and no hair left behind from crawling over the fence or digging underneath the wire...

    I kept everybody in and set a trap for 3 days... nothing

    Week later.... found another pullet dead... same spot as the last 2, but this time perfectly plucked... Every feather gone except on the farthest part of the wing tips... All in a pretty neat pile. Head look normal, but then literally the bird was stripped down to just the bone.. You could have used it in a science class to explain skeletal componets of a chicken.. Nothing broken, it was creepy... If it was close to Halloween I would thought it was a sick cruel prank... The head was left, and then then feather wing tips and the feet. Everything else was cleanly picked off to show the perfect gleaming bones... WEIRD! The bones were not chewed, and I could not find any marks.. I would have said whatever this is had used a scapel, blade and gloves!

    Set the trap again, and kept the girls in... nothing..

    Been 2 weeks of quiet and struck again last night.... same side of the coop as the other but now you can see it struck close to the fence as per usual but then dragged or did its final kill very close to the coop. This time feather everywhere, amd messy. The head was fine as usual, and the neck was ok too. Very little blood, but this time the pelvis was split open and entrails out in the mess of feathers not leg where the drumstick is...for lack of better explaination had the flesh torn right off so the joint was easily exposed, and then flesh from the drumstick on that side also tore over the back of the bird to the other side of the leg... but that part was left along. Other than that the upper part of the bird remain untouched...

    I was going to post pictures but this last kill is pretty graphic...
    - I do not know when this happens....
    - it has never gone inside the open coop as far as I know, nor takes the body out
    - I can never find any bites/wounds/scratches on the body
    - no prints or fur left behind

    I also have turkeys and ducks that wander around that area, and they have never been struck as of yet...

    I have eagles, hawks all birds of prey in the area... we were thinking raccoon... and we know they are around as well... Basically we have all predators.. We did put up a huge decoy owl in cause it was hawks or eagles... but obviously that is not working!!

  2. BethChick78

    BethChick78 Out Of The Brooder

    The only thing I could suggest is setting up a few trail cams if you have them. Good luck!
  3. Hollow Point

    Hollow Point Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2012
    SW Louisiana
    Probably a hawk or owl?
  4. Kimmi500

    Kimmi500 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2012
    Fredericksburg, VA
    The damage described sounds very familiar to me. We had the same thing happen. I lost 11 12 week old RIR chicks one night. I set up a game cam. The culprit was a great horned owl. She landed on the ground and pulled the chicks through the wire. She only ate the abdomen area of each chick. It was a mess to clean up. I keep everything wrapped in the hardware wire now. So my guess is you have an owl. So sorry for your loss :(
  5. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    1. Almost all Birds of Prey pluck or discard any feathers in the way before they feed. In fact the prey is usually still alive when feather plucking and feeding begins. Therefore pullet no.2 was likely attacked away from the coop and struggled in the grip of the BoP, spreading feathers from the area where she was caught and the BoP began feeding, to the place where she finally expired.

    2. There is more flesh that is easily stripped off on the underside of a pullet than on the top side. At this time of year Hawks are in full winter migration mode and areas without deep snow cover are blessed with more mated pairs of hawks than at any other time of the year.

    3. A pair of hawks will hunt together and feed off the same kill as long as they are not interfered with. The male hawks that are not mated by now are desperately trying to attract a female and this involves feeding behavior on the part of the male hawk.

    4. Feeding behavior is designed to impress the female hawk with the male's hunting powers. Think of it as a guy taking his girl friend out on a diner date. Pullet no. one was the main course and pullet no. 2 desert.

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