identify what killed my chicken

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by thomas chicken, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. thomas chicken

    thomas chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 14, 2010
    Please help me identify what happened to my poor chicken.[​IMG]

    What I saw...

    Black chicken, a healthy Plymouth rock, didn't come to roost yesterday evening. I went looking around the yard for her. It was dark. I found her dead on the edge and under a winter honey suckle shrub. IMO the predator dragged her to this place, but no real indication of a struggle is apparent close by. Her head and neck were still attached to the body, but they had been stripped pretty well, even the beak was missing. The breast area was exposed and was mostly/somewhat eaten. The predator did not really or at least not clearly damage any other parts of the chickens body. The wings and legs were in normal condition. I would guess from the birds condition, i.e. temp, it happened about 1 hour before dark, it was cool to touch but not freezing.

    Where it happened...

    In the backyard approx 175-200' away from the house behind some shrubs, dogs stayed in almost entire day due to they are spoiled and it was like 37 degrees yesterday. Maybe 50-75' away from our neighbors house.

    Other info...

    Our yard is large and fenced with minimum 4' chain link.
    Our chickens "free" range by day since they have been outside ~9 months now. Black chicken was boss, also all three are not really accustomed to predators. I have seen them take cover when a hawk has flown over.
    Our westward neighbor has an over grown lot that is home to much wildlife. My dog has killed many possums which I think live over there.
    We have three dogs, a jack russell, a 60lb mix and a english bull dog, they have roamed with the chickens since they have been out, without aggression. I'm not ruling them out.
    Predators include, possums, raccoons, fox, cats, hawks, owls, dogs, rats, snakes. (I hope you formed an opinion on the description previously) This is all we have in our region, central Alabama.

    I stuck a live trap out this morning with carcass inside, but not sure if I expect predator to come back to feed.[​IMG]

    thomas chicken
  2. rosiethechicken

    rosiethechicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2010
    Sorry to hear that. I lost 1 of my 5 dear BRs the other day. First time chicken raiser and first time losing a chicken.
    The dead BR wasnt eaten at all. Except for missing feathers (almost cleaned) around crop area and lower,
    and a punch wound around crop area, nothing else. What a waste of such a beautiful life.
    If only I know for sure what killed it. I am guessing hawk.
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Weasel. If you have the others you most likely have weasels too.
  4. thomas chicken

    thomas chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 14, 2010
    These are our first chickens also. We live in the city, but we do have a lot of wildlife including predators, unfortunately.

    I spoke to my neighbor at lunch, she is active with her neighbors and walks very early in the morning so she hears and sees a lot. I was telling her what happened and she told me that there has been a large raccoon sighting, but not in our immediate area which is several blocks away. She further went on at say that we have foxes once again. Apparently we had foxes in this neighborhood years ago, but someone trapped them. I guess they are now back.

    She told me she has seen two of them and has actually been feeding them. This feeding area, behind our two houses is ~100' from where the chicken was killed. I'm inclined to think that it is very likely one of these grey foxes.

    Is a grey foxes MO to come back to a kill?
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Foxes will carry off a kill. So will coyotes and bobcats. It sounds like you may have a raptor.

    Sorry for your loss.
  6. aceoftrumps

    aceoftrumps Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 14, 2010
    South Central Louisiana
    When I had my first batch of chickens...barred rocks...and they were juveniles, I found three in the run dead and one missing. The main body had been eaten out and the limbs and head were intact. I mentioned it to a friend and she told me it was a sure sign of a possum. That day, I invested in a solar powered fence charger and wire. I've never had an attack since. A few days later, I set up a live animal trap and caught a possum, dispatched it and reset the trap...two days later, another possum.

    I bait with dry cat food and put the trap along the fence line since possums follow fence lines. Haven't had a problem since.

  7. thomas chicken

    thomas chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 14, 2010
    I can not say what killed this chicken and will never be able to 100% say what did, as there was no human eye witness. I'm pretty certain it was a four legged animal, judging by the evidence.

    As you have read I set a live trap last night. It was set off at some point, however it did not have any contents other than the dead chicken I used for bait. The chicken was moved from its original position so something attempted to drag it out of the trap. I blame myself for not properly setting up this trap! If it in fact is a fox I expect it may not return to this trap as it is "shy" of it now. If it is a opossum than it will likely be back to the trap to get the bait, they aren't the smartest critters.

    I'll keep posting it helps me work through these ideas and problems, even if no one replies.

  8. dinahmoe

    dinahmoe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2009
    central georgia
    Quote:oh,we will reply cause we want pictures of whatever you catch.gotta see pics of the killer.
  9. farmnfowl

    farmnfowl Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 9, 2010
    Northwest Indiana
    Brown weasels chew up the heads and are blood suckers.They dont damage the body much.They are small strong and deadly they can take down a full grown chicken,many times there size.they can squeeze through 1 inch size chicken wire which makes them even more effective killers.If it was a weasel though he will be back for more they are highly intelligent. The best way to catch a weasel is with a raw piece of chicken liver shoved onto the wire trigger of 110 conibear trap.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  10. thomas chicken

    thomas chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 14, 2010
    I'm in central Alabama. I do not think we have weasels here. I have been an outdoor person my entire life, almost 40 yrs, and have never seen nor heard of weasels here.

    I walked the yard today looking for sign and found a opossum foot print in a sandy area. I also saw some droppings, that I believe to be opossum. However I'm no expert in identifying a piece of (_____). [​IMG]

    Trap is reset and moved so I hope it comes back tonight to get bait. I hope I set the trap better.

    I need to take trapping 101!

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