Hen killing detective - please help

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Rockchickmomma, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. Rockchickmomma

    Rockchickmomma In the Brooder

    Feb 4, 2017
    Please help me work this out... I'm in New Zealand

    1. We have a small flock of Orpingtons and one little buff girl has managed to get out and about for a wander on most days. We don't worry too much about this as she has a wee rummage around and regularly goes back to her pen to see the girls again.

    2. We have two young (10 months) labrador x boxer dogs who have grown up around the chooks and have been interested but not aggressive towards the lonesome wanderer. We always discourage them from approaching her and if they do she squares up to them and at least once has chased them across the yard. We do feed them raw chicken necks as well as other meat and biscuit.

    3. We live in semi rural area adjacent to forest and fields and often see our brown hawk/buzzards soaring in the locality. I've never seen any perched nearby but have been conscious in the dry summer that they may be finding it harder to hunt food.

    4. Two days ago we found the remains of our lonesome wanderer. She had been pretty much pulled apart and there were feathers in two separate areas of the yard/garden. The dogs automatically became the chief suspects because this seems to be the obvious conclusion but something doesn't feel right about it.

    Here's why and I would appreciate any opinions...

    If the dogs have killed and eaten the bird - she would have bled out and they would surely have signs of blood and other debris on them?

    There were body parts totally missing including the leg and claw and I would have thought they might have eaten the meaty parts first?

    They could have eaten the whole bird in one sitting between them, why would they not do that?

    I'm prepared to believe it was the dogs but does anyone have any other thoughts about whether I can be more sure it was them and not a hawk? If it was them, are they now more likely to behave in a predatory way??

    Thanks in advance
  2. 2 many chickens

    2 many chickens Songster

    Jan 14, 2017
    I'm going to have to go with it was the dogs. When a hawk killed a couple of my hens it ripped thier heads off. they was just a lifeless body. I'm no expert tho..
  3. RWise

    RWise Songster

    Dec 25, 2012
    Oakhurst Oklahoma
    It could have been the dog/s, I feed my dogs raw chicken and they have never bothered a live bird. Now they will certainly take a kill from something else. So it may not have been the dog/s even if you caught them with the dead bird, they may have ran off whatever killed it and taken the spoils. Watch closely! And find that hole and close it up,,,,
    MicahtheOkie likes this.
  4. andreanar

    andreanar Crowing

    May 16, 2014
    Finger Lakes, NY
    I had a dog attack on my coop and run once. What I noticed about dog attacks is A LOT of feathers everywhere! Dogs seem to chase and pull feathers, almost like they enjoy the chase before actually catching the bird. I would think feathers would be spread out over a large area. I don't really think, tho, that you have any way of being completely sure.
    MicahtheOkie and igorsMistress like this.
  5. igorsMistress

    igorsMistress Crossing the Road Barefoot

    Apr 9, 2013
    Phoenix AZ
    My Coop
    :hugs I'm sorry about the loss of your wanderer and, I agree you have no way to be sure.

    My dog caught a pigeon and she didn't eat it, but she had some fun with it and the feathers were all over the place, not just here and there. If the dogs killed it and didn't eat it I suspect it was a game of chase, not for food. They don't have to hunt for their food because you feed them. Labs are bird dogs, flush and retrieve is practically in their DNA.
  6. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    If it was the dogs, there will be feathers in their stool. I'm going with the possibility of a buzzard.
  7. Akrnaf2

    Akrnaf2 The educated Rhino

    Jul 5, 2014
    Center of Israel
    Yes. there is another potential explanation to feathers in the excrements. The Buzzard could have killed it first and then they could have eaten from the carcass.
    sourland likes this.
  8. Boonie Stomper

    Boonie Stomper Songster

    Jan 1, 2018
    DC, MD, VA region
    Could have been a tug of war if both dogs were chasing and caught it. That would explain the missing leg.
    Or a hawk could have started out killing and eating only to have another animal take over from there.
    Sorry for you loss. Bet you won't be so fast to allow out of bounds wandering next time.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
    Chelsa'sChicks likes this.
  9. Chelsa'sChicks

    Chelsa'sChicks Songster

    Aug 16, 2017
    When I was a kid we had a dog who killed 2 hens. The dog was pure white and didn't have blood anywhere on him. He also didn't eat the bird and just killed it.

    Dogs mostly kill for sport unless it's a feral dog. So eating your bird may not have happened at all if it was your dogs.

    I did have a hen that died it was after she was dead (killed by a opossum not my dog) my dog found her body in the barn before me and ran off with her leg.. not the body or meaty parts.

    FYI my dogs do not kill the chickens and the chickens free range. The dogs live on my farm so they run free also on the property. If mine were killers I would have no birds left plus the dogs are always within 10 ft from me.
  10. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Free Ranging

    May 4, 2016
    Somewhere in the Universe
    Sorry to hear of your loss. My dogs have gotten chickens before. It's usually when they're puppies, like your dogs are. :(

    Not in my experience. If I hadn't caught the dogs with the chickens, I would not have known they did it.

    Puppies like to chew, and especially since they're already well fed, they might not even be hungry enough to bother.

    Not hungry. Dogs like to play, especially puppies. Often they kill a chicken, without always knowing what to do with the bird after it's just laying there.

    Usually yes, they will behave in a more predatory way. They're dogs and dogs are predators. But that doesn't mean it is hopeless at all! Puppies (and sometimes adults) mess up. They just need training.

    I think it's very likely it was your dogs. Again, sorry for your loss and hope everything goes better from now on!
    MicahtheOkie likes this.

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