1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Hen dead in coop--ideas on cause?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by hyzenthlay, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. hyzenthlay

    hyzenthlay Chillin' With My Peeps

    372
    24
    168
    Feb 26, 2009
    SW PA
    *cross-posted in emergency/illness forum*

    I found my almost 7 year old SLW hen dead right inside the open door of the coop at 4 pm today. Her head was bloody, with the skin on her neck partially torn open. There was a little blood in the coop, but not s lot. Her shoulder blade area was picked clean of feathers, and the feathers were all scattered right around her body inside the coop. No feathers to speak of outside the coop. She did not have any other apparent injuries. I last saw her at 9:30 am when I went out to the coop to give treats and collect eggs. She seemed fine then, happy and scurrying after treats with our other 9 girls. The other hens were acting flustered when I found her body, but none had any sign of injury.

    I feel very disturbed, not knowing if she died of natural causes and was subsequently picked at by the other hens, or if something attacked her in/near the open coop door.

    During the day, our hens have free range in our fenced acre yard in an urban area. We leave the coop door propped open so they can go in and out. We don't have many predators around--hawks for sure, but we've never seen evidence of raccoons, foxes, etc. it is also snowy here, and I didn't see any obvious tracks around, other than the chickens'. Our dogs were also out in the yard during this time, but they have always been wonderful with the chickens, and I don't think they would have done this. In fact, we leave the dogs out with the hens as a deterrent to hawks. I could picture them sniffing the body, but doubt they would do anything more, based on past experiences with dead things they discovered in the yard (like a partially disemboweled rabbit a couple weeks ago, which we assume was from a hawk).

    So, do chicken pluck and pick at each other after death? Or was she more likely attacked? Any ideas? [​IMG]
     
  2. DS17

    DS17 Out Of The Brooder

    73
    0
    39
    Jun 14, 2015
    I don't have an answer for you. Just wanted to say sorry for your loss [​IMG]
     
  3. eagrbeavr

    eagrbeavr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Something got her, and it will be back. May want to leave the door shut, chickens locked out of view, and put a baited live trap by the door. thats what I would do anyhow. So sorry for your loss.
     
  4. hyzenthlay

    hyzenthlay Chillin' With My Peeps

    372
    24
    168
    Feb 26, 2009
    SW PA
    Thanks so much...:(. Her name was Mrs. Fig, and she was one of the first group of four hens I got when we first started this chicken adventure. She would've been 7 years old next month. She was such a big, fluffy, beautiful girl. She was still laying, too, and never showed any signs of illness her whole life. She wasn't the boldest chicken--didn't like to be picked up or petted much--but was very even tempered with the hens and a good flock member. [​IMG]

    I was inside the house the whole day and didn't hear any commotion. I feel terrible wondering if she suffered, and thinking there might've been something I could've done to help her.
     
  5. hyzenthlay

    hyzenthlay Chillin' With My Peeps

    372
    24
    168
    Feb 26, 2009
    SW PA
    Eagerbeaver, I do have the rest of the girls locked up tight now, and I don't know how long I'll leave them like that--awhile, I guess. I like them to have their freedom, but I would hate for this to happen again....
     
  6. msazeeta

    msazeeta Out Of The Brooder

    39
    3
    31
    Feb 17, 2016
    Concord, CA
    Sounds like something got her. Sorry for your loss :(
    Believe it or not a neighbor's cat got one of my hens before, but it was a banty, full grown nonetheless. I know because he told me after it brought her to their door. Just a possibility since it only killed and didn't actually eat her.
     
  7. eagrbeavr

    eagrbeavr Chillin' With My Peeps

    I hear ya. Its a real PIA. I would imagine it wouldnt be hard to trap what it is. It'll probably be back every day or night now, knowing the chickens are there.

    I cant say for sure thats what it is, but it sure as hell sounds like it. Buy or borrow a trap from someone. Wish you best of luck.
     
  8. eagrbeavr

    eagrbeavr Chillin' With My Peeps

    And again, sorry for the loss. Try not to beat yourself up about it. Obviously if you knew, you'd've done something. (Easy to say, I know)
     
  9. hyzenthlay

    hyzenthlay Chillin' With My Peeps

    372
    24
    168
    Feb 26, 2009
    SW PA
    Thanks, eagrbeavr, I hadn't really thought about a trap, because I assumed if it was a predator it was most likely a hawk--not just because I know we have them around, but also because I didn't see any unusual tracks in the snow around the coop. But with your comments in mind I went out to the coop around midnight last night to see what I could see--there were rabbit tracks in the fresh powder around the coop, but nothing else. And this morning there were more rabbit tracks and squirrel tracks, but I think that's it.

    I'm still leaving the girls locked in the coop now, which they are not happy about (they tried to squeeze out past my legs when I went in to clean and give treats this morning)--but I don't know how much danger they're in and I don't want to risk it. I might go get a live trap since you mentioned it, but my bet is still on a hawk if it was a predator. We don't have a ton of them, but there are at least a couple red tails that hang around the neighborhood pretty regularly, and we've also seen coopers hawks. The girls are pretty smart and hide under the bushes or the truck when a hawk is around (and if I notice that I'll go out and round them up and lock them in the coop), but I'm sure that's not 100% failsafe. I also have an outdoor camera around here somewhere--I think I'll dig it up and set it up by the coop to see what's lurking around when I'm not there.

    Other than being a bit antsy, the other girls seem fine this morning. There were 6 eggs so far today from 9 hens, and I know people say hens stop laying sometimes after a big disturbance, so I guess by that measure they are doing ok.
     
  10. eagrbeavr

    eagrbeavr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ya know, you're probably right about it being a hawk.I have that concern too. I have a Sharp Shinned that lurks around. Havent seen in in awhile. Theres a couple Red Tails in the vicinity too. I have a run thats about 20x30 or so and I threw bird netting over it. Its not heavy duty, A hawk could get thru it, but I needed it at the time and it was available. The girls free range when I get home so the possibility of a hawk massacre is still there. That reminds me, I'd like to get a Blue Isbar this year. I understand theyre good predator alerters.

    Glad to hear your girls seem to be doing fine.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by