Help me figure out who MURDERED our flock!!!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by isaac isley, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. isaac isley

    isaac isley Out Of The Brooder

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    We had a flock of 8 chickens. 2 1/2 weeks ago I went out to the coop to feed my chickens in the morning like I always do, only to find all but one of them DEAD lying in the coop [​IMG]!!! Sapphire, the one chicken that was still alive was lying there helpless and looking like she was going to die.

    The coop was an A frame coop made of wood and chicken wire. The chickens have all lived there safely for 6 months before the attack. The predator tore a huge 2 foot hole into the chicken wire about a foot off of the ground and got in for the kill. Some of them had snapped necks and patches of feathers missing on random parts of their bodies. They appeared to have been bloodless. They all had different injuries and it was a horrible feathery scene.

    We scooped up Sapphire, cleaned her wound, and put her in a box with a light in our outside shed. We had no idea if she would make it or not. She was limping and scared to death. Over the next few days she began to improve [​IMG] and we were thrilled. We decided to get her a companion chick to keep her company until we trapped the darn predator and built a better coop.
    Sapphire and Sesame were inseperable from the moment they met [​IMG] and were getting along just fine. Sapphire's wound was almost completely healed after 1 1/2 weeks and we were so happy....We also decided to order 15 chicks from a popular online hatchery to start over.

    Unfortunatley, Saturday night we decided to put them in an older coop of my uncles that was wooden and off of the ground. It seemed secure enough. It had 1/2" mesh wire and all of the works. The wood was particle wood (which has proven to be the problem) so we thoght it was safe and time to let the birds back out at night....

    THE VERY FIRST NIGHT we put our babies out in that coop...the predator (at this point we dont even know if it is the same critter) clawed or chewed another 2 foot hole into the side of the wooden coop, took Sapphire and killed Sesame. [​IMG][​IMG]:mad: We are/were devisatated!!

    The coop is 3 1/2 feet off of the ground...what the heck would have done such a thing?? We are in coastal NC. I called some wildlife control people and they said it could be anything...then one guy called me back and asked if we had Bears locally. A black bear has been spotted around here.

    At this point we dont know what to do. We dont have a ton of money to invest into fancy coops and now with these chicks on the way, we are as worried as ever. We put a deposit on a German Shepard puppy to help but what can a puppy do when he is little? We are just lost. Any pointers would be greatly appreaciated. [​IMG]

    Let me know if pictures would help, we can take some and post them tomorrow.

    -Shonny and Isaac
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012
  2. hallerlake

    hallerlake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Bear was my first thought. It's difficult to build something strong enough to keep out a bear.
     
  3. Laingcroft

    Laingcroft Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are mini wildlife/barn cameras that aren't too expensive. I would try to get one (borrow or buy) to see exactly what prowling around your yard. I would have thought it is too early for bears (they hibernate) but with all the wild (warm) winter weather we've had, who knows.
     
  4. moetrout

    moetrout Chillin' With My Peeps

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    2 foot hole in a coup 3 feet off the ground and through particle board.....my bet is on a bear! I am from Michigan and don't know what kinds of animals you have down your way, but up here that is about the only thing I could think of that would do that. Anything else really wouldn't need a 2 foot hole.
     
  5. FarmTillURdead

    FarmTillURdead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Large racoons have been known to tear through chicken wire and welded wire fence. I use a layer of chain link over the chicken wire. Being that it climbed up there this would be my guess as I have photos of 25 pound racoons climbing up our deer feeder poles. The way your chickens were killed and left also maked me think this. But if the hole really is 2 feet that is bear or ferral dog. Do you know anyone that has a hunting game camera you can borrow? So you know what your up against?
    Look for claw marks - I know bears will claw and dig. Racoons will just chew. Lots of pin like holes on the edges.

    I don't know about your local trapping laws but an "arm trap" also called a "dog-safe trap" mounted up high (cause I don't trust them to be totally dog proof) on your coop with a Lil' smokie sausage works wonders on large racoons.


    In a lot of states you are allowed to protect your livestock outside of trapping season. Some folks use the "3 S's rule". Shoot Shovel and Shut-Up. Once a predator knows where to eat... it will be back. Until you eliminate the food source or the problem.

    ... some advise on the pup... if your not around the dog CONSTANTLY with extreme dilligence to teach it not to "play" with chickens... you will loose chicks to the dog. It has taken me over a year with the two Livestock Guard Dogs with daily constant supervision to get them to leave birds alone. The only way to train them was to catch them in the act of hurting chickens to tell them "No" or they don't make the connection. I lost several chickens from being "played" with.

    I have been in your shoes with predators. I slowly lost 42 chickens one year. It was hawks, then falcons, then possums, my own dogs... It's miserable getting a working system. Don't give up. It will work out eventually - you just have to figure out how.
     
  6. isaac isley

    isaac isley Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the advice. Do you all think the predator will come back on our property knowing that all of the chickens are gone? What do we do now. I dont want to put an innocent chicken out there for bait, and from what I have found online the "Live Bait" Wild life traps are $300!

    What would you do to solve the problem, before the new chicks are ready to go outside?

    And thank you for the advice on the puppy. The play was to only have them around the chicks while being supervised....and observe and watch how they grow.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012
  7. FarmTillURdead

    FarmTillURdead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know how close your coop is to the house... but a motion light could help. They aren't that hard to install. Very simple if your patient and know where the circuit breaker box is.
    I would also put a radio out. I have used radios for years to keep coyotes away. I would imagine the people singing sound like howling humans and the chitter chat sounds like busy ones. It doesn't have to be real loud either.
    The last thing I would do is electric fence. Small ones can be bought fairly cheap and running a ring of it around your coop should detour anything. You could even put it on a timer for after dark hours. You might be able to find a used one cheap on Craigslist under farm and garden. Farmers always end up upgrading their electric fence. ; )
    I have been known to freeze chickens that thave been killed - to keep them - so I can wrap them in electrice fence wire, hook it to the fence and let a predator have a mouth full of that! I suppose a piece of beef jerky would work as well... but I want them thinkin' chicken! This is a little bit of a tricky prospect because the electrified chicken can't contact the ground or the fence won't work. But it can be done with bungee cords!
    If you do the fence let me know... I'd like to help you get it right. Animals must be in contact with the ground in order for it to work... so you would have to run it where they intend to snoop or climb.
    Those are my ideas... of the only things I found that works. I hope you get it worked out. Chickens are good therapy!
     
  8. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are in the country, pick a good hide area with a spotlight/flood light on the coop. Put some chickens in as bait. Set the .300 mag up on target and wait. Sorry to hurt the animal lover feeling here but that deal won't happen but once. That has to end. I don't you are safe even. Whatever it is is not exhibiting fear at all.
     
  9. the4heathernsmom

    the4heathernsmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2008
    east texas
    We had same thing happen and I gave up for 2 years even having chickens. We have recently started over. I agree, set up with bait and a gun, use traps, dogs will also go right through a secure run and will chew and dig at the wood/wire till they get in. We are on the "financially challenged" end of the spectrum and tried almost everything.....we had every predator you can think of but not bears.......in my experience once they found the food source they just kept coming back again and again. try old tin buried a foot down and surrounding the run...that has worked, it isn't pretty but works on the digging critters. Maybe cover the wooden areas where you have plywood with tin? Chicken wire can keep birds in but does nothing for protection. We rebuilt using welded wire aka horse no climb wire and have better success with it. The small welded wire was wayyyy too expensive and the welded wire is sturdy and keeps out the unwanteds!!!!
     
  10. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Get a trail cam, I had no idea how many varmints were around till I got one:

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