Help! Something is picking off my meat chickens and I cant figure out what...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by crenees, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. crenees

    crenees Out Of The Brooder

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    Okay, I signed up to this forum a few weeks ago to get pointers on how to raise/butcher meat chickens…now I need y’all’s help in figuring out what has killed my chicks two weeks before slaughter!!

    I’ve had two attacks…the first was when (on New Year’s Eve) my husband and I stayed out late (of course) and forgot to close the chicken coop up. I should add that for some reason these meat chickens (I have…had red broilers from Ideal) like to sleep outside in the caged area instead of going into their coop at night…they just all pile up in the corner. I had 25 chickens and on that first attack 20 were killed although the morning of I only found 3 dead in the yard. One had its foot chewed off but no other visible damage and the other two had bite marks on their chest area (about the size of a fox, dog, etc.) with no other damage. Over the next few weeks pieces of the other chickens started surfacing around the yard which led me to believe the predator had buried the other chickens and was coming back at night to feed and leaving pieces around my yard (which is securely fenced with no signs of holes/digging etc. for access which leads me to believe this predator can either jump extremely high or is climbing surrounding trees to get in/out).

    Now this morning I woke up and went out to feed the 5 remaining meat chickens I have and found 2 dead in the caged area (side note: the caged area was enclosed and there are no holes that would have allowed something to break in) both the animals have their heads chewed off with no other damage…also I found 1 head right next to the fence like something just pulled it off and left it there (although there are some bite marks that indicate it was an animal). There are scratch marks around the cage but like I said no holes that would’ve allowed the animal to get in…which is REALLY confusing because one of the bodies is in the middle of the fenced in area.

    Help! Has anyone had anything like this happen to their flock? Also, I have another flock of egg layers in another fenced area right next to the meat chickens which are allowed to free range as much as they want who’ve never been preyed upon…I’m so confused!

    On a side note, I did purchase a trap from my feed store yesterday (ironic I know) so if I catch the culpret I will definitely let y'all know what it was but I'd like any suggestions...I'm thinking fox, bobcat, coyote but I'm not sure about the behavior of these animals so whatever knowledge y'all have is greatly appreciated!

    Courtney
     
  2. crenees

    crenees Out Of The Brooder

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    Thought it would be helpful to include a picture of what I woke up to this morning...
    [​IMG]
     
  3. flyboy129

    flyboy129 Out Of The Brooder

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    Looks like a coon. They will grab through a fence and rip a chicken apart. After a chicken looses its head, it can and will flop, walk, shuffle around a bit before the nerves play out, which may explain the one laying in the middle. Buy a live catch trap big enough for a large coon. Bait it with either chicken meat or sardines, etc. Shoot the thing in the morning.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Red fox. Can grab birds close to fencing and pull them through the 2"x4" wire fencing. They will dismember and bury / cache remains in vicinity of where they were captured.

    Get chickens to stay away from fencing, especially at night. Even during day, some roosters are stupid enough to try and fight fox through wire. Result is often headless rooster.

    Get them to roost in coop or elevated location away from fencing.
     
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
    Whether it's a coon or fox, you might want to consider putting 1/2" hardware cloth around the bottom 2' of your exsisting fence so that whatever it is can't reach through and kill your chickens.
     
  6. crenees

    crenees Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey centrarchid!

    I've definitely tried...for the first few nights I would go out there at night and manually move them into the coop but after a few weeks I just let them do what they wanted hoping my next round of broilers would have the instinct to go inside at night...cant figure why this batch doesnt do what should come, at least in my understanding, naturally...very frustrating especially now that the predation is occuring...I mean their food & water is in the coop along with lots of railing for roosting...dont understand...

    I thought perhaps it was a grey fox since those are the only ones that I know of who can climb trees for entry (perhaps red foxes can too though)...I'm starting to think that the two attacks were done by different animals since the first seemed to indicate a fox with the burying all of the extras and this latest one seems, at least what I'm hearing, to be done by a raccoon or maybe even possum...I mean the heads are just pulled clean off and I just found the second head so they didnt even eat what they were able to pull off of the two they caught...so confusing and frustrating!!

    I just got finished setting up a large live trap and put the two carcasses in for bait...hopefully I'll get lucky tonight and catch me the sucker who did this latest attack...I've got a bullet that's got his/her name on it!
     
  7. crenees

    crenees Out Of The Brooder

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    That's a good idea...I actually have some extra fencing so I was thinking about putting a second fence around the first a little ways away to prevent anything from reaching in...I've got another round of chicks coming from Ideal this week so I will definitely be reinforcing that coop before they're scheduled to go outside...
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Do as Bobb-j suggested with perimeter fencing. Then increase lighting slightly in coop in case light levels drop too fast for birds to get to roost.

    Racoon may simply climb fence. If so electrify it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012

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