Hen dead, head and neck gone

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by digbychris, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. digbychris

    digbychris Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I remember seeing similar post on here but can't find it now, if this is the wrong place for this question please let me know.

    Found a hen dead in the coop yesterday, She was facing into a corner and I thought she was asleep or sitting. But she was gone, as were her head and neck. I'm wondering what happened, as I'm not used to any aggression and she was a well established hen.
    I saw no signs of struggle or that it could have been an outside predator - no mess of feathers and only that hen was hurt so much as I could see.
    I wonder if she could have just died, and the wounds were post-mortem from the other birds? She could have been as much as 6 years old.
    The flock has recently been more cooped up than before with the winter temps. Coop has heat lamps, plenty of food and water. They have access to a run as well as their coop. Could boredom have played a factor in her death?
    Its certainly not something that happens, I mean I've lost hens before but not with these sort of wounds. I didn't have my phone with me to take pics.

    Appreciate any input.
     
    drumstick diva likes this.
  2. Brahmas_R_Awesome

    Brahmas_R_Awesome Out Of The Brooder

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    A hawk or owl got your chicken. That's what they will do. The chicken is probably to big for the predator to carry away so they will bite off the head and eat it. Sorry for your loss!!
     
    drumstick diva likes this.
  3. digbychris

    digbychris Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My first reaction was to reply and say that wasn't very possible. However, if the bird of prey first attacked outside, in the run, then followed the hen in thru the opening I guess it's possible. Does that sound likely?
     
    drumstick diva likes this.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    I'm thinking more likely candidate was a coon or a weasel. Any time I've had a hawk kill a bird, they flip them over, and devour the breast. I have not yet been unlucky enough to experience loss to owl predation. Weasels and coons will both decapitate their victims. Your predator, no matter who it was will be back for an other meal.
     
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

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    On the MN prairie.
    I agree that it's likely something from the weasel family (weasel, mink, skunk) or a coon. I have my doubts that a bird of prey would follow your chicken into the coop.
     
  6. Brahmas_R_Awesome

    Brahmas_R_Awesome Out Of The Brooder

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    Now that you say that you are probably right. Those little devils are known to reach through fencing and grab a chicken by the neck. And now that they have gotten a taste they will definitely be back. Try using a smaller mesh around the bottom of the coop for about 12 to 18" high to prevent critters from reaching through.
     
    drumstick diva and digbychris like this.
  7. digbychris

    digbychris Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So far, and I'm knocking on wood, it's only been the one hen. I think I will block the bottom of the coop and at the same time set up a game camera I have and try to position it so the chickens don't set it off. I could also set a live trap, but I may catch a barn cat lol. They have lived harmoniously with opossums in the past, I know, just stealing some eggs. I appreciate opossums being around the place, but not if they kill my birds. It could just as easily be a raccoon, I suppose but I've never seen one around before. Should be interesting!

    Thanks!
     
    drumstick diva likes this.
  8. DuckMom2017

    DuckMom2017 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I def think a raccoon. One took one of my ducks, ripped her head off and ate her breast.
    My woods have fewer raccoons these days.
     
  9. LadyRed76

    LadyRed76 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Opossum will eat a chicken too.
    Seen it with my own eyes.
     
    drumstick diva likes this.
  10. digbychris

    digbychris Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We'll see, and I'll post if I get any game cam pics or anything in the trap. Do you think wet cat food would be a good bait?
     

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