Help! Racoon and Skunk Killing Flock

ReseisCL16

Songster
6 Years
May 17, 2014
139
154
157
Last Sunday, my Silkie never got into the coop. I couldn't find her in the bushes, the barn, anywhere. The next day, my Rosecomb rooster (also champion-bred) was mauled by something. His head had been eaten. The disturbing thing is that this last incident happened IN THE MORNING, after I had already let the flock out for the day. I smelled skunk as I was cleaning up the carcass. However, two days ago I actually found the remains of my Silkie, and she was torn to bits. This is more the behavior of a raccoon (believe me when I tell you I've had so many raccoon attacks over the years, but this is the first that's happened in the morning). I have a radio going 24/7 in my barn after coyote attacks last year, along with barbed wire, a motion- detector flood light, and blinking red Predator Eyes, that are supposed to scare away potential predators.

So I know I just posted a little while ago about my brand new mini-flock of pigeons (2 pairs). They were very expensive show-stock. Yesterday, I found two of the four dead. The pictures below are pictures of their loft and aviary. One had broken it's neck and the other was pulled halfway through the fence and it's head was chewed off. The other two didn't have a mark on them, but they're absolutely terrified of everything now.

I don't think whatever killed my pigeons was ever in the aviary, but I have the dead birds. Does anyone have any idea what to do to stop whatever predator(s) is killing my show flock? I set a live trap last night for a raccoon, but I don't want to catch a skunk in the raccoon trap! Please help!
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Sorry for the fuzziness. My camera isn't very good.
 

Abriana

Spicy Sugar Cookie
Apr 26, 2017
5,110
55,630
1,217
Midgard
definitely you need hardware cloth, 1/2 inch size. It’s more expensive but it will keep your girls safe. I use hardware cloth and I’ve never had a ground predator get my chickens and it’s been 2 and a half years since I got my birds. (Well one did once but she had escaped the fence and was free ranging).
 

ReseisCL16

Songster
6 Years
May 17, 2014
139
154
157
The birds had broken their necks. The predator, whatever it was, was never actually in the aviary. That "fence" is actually welded-metal dog kennel panels. I deduced that something scared them really badly and then ate the one that died closer to the edge of the fence where it could reach it. I can't stop the predator from going under other fences that enclose my run (it's a very large run), as I have feral cats that dig holes under it. The entire flock free-ranges most of the time, and those that can fly the fence, barbed wire and all, even though its about 6-7 feet high.
 

Bonniebooboo

Crowing
May 27, 2017
499
873
312
Kansas
Agree with the other posts. Hardware cloth, especially on the pen where the coop is. if your birds sit on the roof, they could easily be pulled through by a coon. Coons climb very well and look for places to get in or reach in to grab a bird. any bird. I hate to catch a skunk in a live trap too. But just in case, hook a chain or rope to it so you can pull it without getting too close. Yes they stink badly and the smell may linger, but better to drag the trap off and shoot the varmit or it will be back again. live trap, small can of cat food in back of trap, turn can upside down, coon more likely to work on getting the can vs grab and run, more likely to set trap off. That is how we do ours. We shoot. we don't haul off and turn loose. They return and tend to bring others to food source. Best of luck.
 

Bonniebooboo

Crowing
May 27, 2017
499
873
312
Kansas
Also, looking at your picture, you have little branches stuck in the wire to roost on. That is much to close for birds to roost by the fence. coons climb easily, reach through and grab, I know this first hand. I love that dog pen, but for birds it needs more, hardware cloth so a coon cannot just reach though, they will stretch as far as their front leg will let them, grab by head or neck, pull through fence. opossums will try things like this as well, but coons spend more time figuring things out. I actually have wire floors in my pens, some horse mats in one for floor. I have never known a cat to actually dig holes to get into anything. they paw the dirt lightly usually and go on. Armadillows is what I have digging holes mostly, then something else try and make it bigger to get in. If possible you might try a large branch set in the middle of your pen top to bottom. keep the highest roost branch around 18" from top of pen. coons will climb up on top of pen and reach in as well, but shouldn't be able to get hold of a head or neck.
 
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ReseisCL16

Songster
6 Years
May 17, 2014
139
154
157
That's smart. Before this, the birds were using the branches to perch on, but I see what you mean. I've had raccoons tear up coops before, because they're so smart. It's so frustrating! I can't seem to get rid of these stinkin' predators:barnie.

Would it help to move their loft inside? I have an old dairy barn on my property that I could move them into. The problem is that these aren't squabs I'm dealing with. One of the hens is nearing two years old and I've only had them for about a week and a half. They don't know where they live yet, so I can't let them fly free. Any ideas for how I could make it so that a predator wouldn't scare them so badly, but still let them get some fresh air?
 

itsasmallfarm

Crowing
Oct 27, 2016
2,066
3,219
341
canada
skunks eat/will be caught by pretty much anything. i mean any raccoon trap/set/bait will also catch a skunk. and a live trap makes it just that much more easy to catch the skunk.

also DP traps will also catch skunks (found out the hard way on that)
 

Bonniebooboo

Crowing
May 27, 2017
499
873
312
Kansas
That's smart. Before this, the birds were using the branches to perch on, but I see what you mean. I've had raccoons tear up coops before, because they're so smart. It's so frustrating! I can't seem to get rid of these stinkin' predators:barnie.

Would it help to move their loft inside? I have an old dairy barn on my property that I could move them into. The problem is that these aren't squabs I'm dealing with. One of the hens is nearing two years old and I've only had them for about a week and a half. They don't know where they live yet, so I can't let them fly free. Any ideas for how I could make it so that a predator wouldn't scare them so badly, but still let them get some fresh air?

That is a dilemma. moving to the barn would definitely help if there are overhead predators like hawks landing and scaring them so bad they fly and break their own necks. or a good dark tarp over top of pen secured with straps. Coons find their way into my barn, so may find their way into your barn. You would still need good hardware cloth to keep your birds from poking their heads out and predators from reaching in. can you close your birds in the coop till slightly later in the day? I had a big horned owl out by my chicken coop pretty early in the morning, he had caught something, but not my chicken. I quit letting them out at daylight. You will probably never get rid of all predators, but you can reduce the incidence of them. Set those traps at dusk and check every morning. you'll get there. I set mine next to my chicken pen/coop. Even though we have plenty of skunks around, we don't seem to have much problem with them and the chickens. HUGE problem with opossums and coons. Sometimes early morning coyote.
 

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