Hens after Lead Hen is gone.

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by tracytelliott, Oct 29, 2016.

  1. tracytelliott

    tracytelliott New Egg

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    Oct 29, 2016
    Hi, We are new to backyard hens, and we have a protected coop that our 4 hens stay in each evening. They free roam the backyard and we haven't seen any predators other than a single hawk months ago (1x only) that the girls ran off. Early morning, yesterday one of our hens was killed and it happened to be the 'lead' hen (mother hen? matriarch?- not sure of term). There were feathers in 3 different areas of the yard and she was far away from the initial area of feathers. I'm wondering if it was a hawk, wouldn't we see the hawk again today or back again yesterday afternoon? Is there a way to determine 'what' killed our hen?

    Also, I"m worried about the other three hens. (they are now up in their coop and not running free) They are going back to the site where she was killed, and clucking non stop and seem more frantic. I'm not sure how to help them and thought I'd ask here.
     
  2. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry for your loss.
    Is your yard fenced in? Did you find any parts of your hen or is she totally missing? If it was a hawk it had to be a big enough hawk to carry your hen away. Often a hawk will hit and eat right there at the kill site if it cannot carry the bird. If it was a larger predator (fox or dog) it could have carried the body away, perhaps even scaling a fence with it.
    I've had predator attacks that didn't seem to faze the chickens at all, and others where they stayed hidden for quite some time. Just this past Wednesday I had a hawk make three separate attacks into the yard (I was warned when I heard a rooster's warning call and raced out.) The first attack a hen lost some feathers (Thankfully that is all.), but they all hid in their runs or under large bushes for most of the day.
    When it returned the third time I left a dog out for a while and that seemed to end everything although the chickens and ducks stayed hidden for most of the afternoon.
    The rest of your birds will have to reset their pecking order.
     
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  3. tracytelliott

    tracytelliott New Egg

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    Oct 29, 2016
    Thank you, it's been harder losing one than I imagined. The attacker left her so we could try to figure out what happened. It seemed that from the feathers in the first area, which was light, to the second area, which seemed like most of her feathers to the last resting place, that maybe a bird had tried to pick her up. Most of her internal had been eaten away but her head and neck were still intact. Fenced yard, no stray dogs, our dogs love them and like to tease and play. Only a neighborhood cat that walks the back fence, and has for months while the girls roam. That cat has never gotten into the yard, and I feel like the other hens would have put up a fight or something. That cat has toyed with chipmunks. And we saw an owl months ago during the day, but not since. Really appreciate your reply, thank you.
     
  4. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] Just realized it was your first post, Welcome. It does sound like a hawk. If there is a plus side hawks are opportunists and often not successful. If you have a yard with hiding places, a deck, evergreens, bushes, even hang out cheap pie plates on a string, chickens are often able to hide.
    Years ago when we had Rhode Island red hen only flock, we had a major hawk problem, but when we got chickens again we chose larger breeds and added a rooster or two and that seemed to help a lot.
    Now we have to take major precautions against foxes who love the larger birds.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry about your hen! When one of my hens was killed by a predator, it took the rest of the flock about a week to get back to normal. They were all quiet and subdued and didn't go out exploring like before. I hope the rest of your hens get back to normal soon, I know how sad it is to see them upset.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    They are shook up from the attack and the pecking order has changed.
    Agrees with Adalida...it will take some time for them to get over it all.
    Keep them locked up as that hawk, or what ever attacked, will be back.
     

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