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Is this how a fox hunts?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Daisy_B, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. Daisy_B

    Daisy_B New Egg

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    Last night we lost all of our chooks (4 girls) [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    We awoke to find four huge piles of feathers outside their coop - no bodies, no blood, just feathers. I've been reading through the forum posts and it sounds that this was most likely a fox? I found the information a little confusing though - I looked at a few photos online about what is left behind when a fox gets in, but the photos look like they are just leaving behind a few feathers, often near fences, and the posts say they take a few bodies, but we lost them all. Whatever got our girls definitely completely denuded them. And seems to have done it just outside the coop. (Took an hour to clean up and two bags full of feathers). But all the feathers seemed so cleanly plucked out - nothing wet, no chew marks, no blood, or anything. We also heard nothing, which is unusual. Does this sound like a fox to those of you with experience?

    We live in the suburbs (Melbourne), but I guess there may well be some foxes around. We were just closing the coop door at night, and not locking it, so an animal could definitely have opened it. I just wanted to ask those of you who have suffered the same fate if this sounds like a fox, because before we get more I want to be sure it was an animal (not some creepy neighbour).

    And a final question - are there any special tricky secure door mechanisms I could look at for future purchase that chooks could use to get in and out of their coop? Obviously this predator is local and has now staked out our place as a possible restaurant so we have to be super careful. And I don't always get home before dusk to lock them up.

    Thank you for your help.
    Daisy.
     
  2. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

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    I could be a coon also, the same thing happened to me. Found only feathers. If it is a coon it will likely come back. I set up a trail cam to see what it was.
     
  3. roxyblue

    roxyblue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I AM SO SORRY!
    I lost one of my four to a racoon a few months a go, it took the body but we found a bunch of mangled feathers, some skin and the beak. doesn't sound like what you have, but I hope that you catch (kill?) what ever got your birds.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  4. NanaLantana

    NanaLantana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hate it when that happens - on my coop doors, I have a slide bolt, AND a dog collar clip. I had been thinking of making a 'floating' perch, that would be a mechanism that would open and close the pop door. I haven't designed it yet, since I still do the manual thing, but it could be done. When the roost is heavy with chickens, the door would be closed, when they jump off and it's light, the door would open. Wouldn't be too hard to figure out a wooden/hinged mechanism to do the job.
     
  5. Daisy_B

    Daisy_B New Egg

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    Oct 17, 2011
    Thanks for the sympathy (the kids were devastated as they raised these ones from eggs, sigh).

    I don't think we have raccoons in Australia. And I was surprised that none of the feathers were mangled at all.
     
  6. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:Sorry I didn't know you were in Australia. Always wanted to know is it spring there now?
     
  7. Daisy_B

    Daisy_B New Egg

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    Yes, we're in Melbourne. A beautiful spring day (if it weren't for the slaughter in the backyard [​IMG] )
     
  8. Ole and Lena

    Ole and Lena Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like a canine. I imagine you're talking red fox Vulpus vulpus probably introduced for hunting.

    Haven't lost a chicken to one yet, but sounds like pheasants and grouse I've seen killed by them. They usually kill pretty clean stalking and ambushing with a quick kill. They will lap up all the blood and often eat the skin, fat and innards onsite eating around the feathers, they are amazingly efficient at this. The rest of the carcass is carried off to heavy cover or to the den to feed the pups.

    Are there any tracks? They will look like a small, slightly elongated dog track.

    Don't know what other predators you might have in Australia. Are there any owls there? That would be my second guess.

    My coop door is a solid oak stair riser salvaged from an old house. It slides between 2 heavy pieces of lumber staked into the ground. It is held on top by a lumber cross tie and on bottom by a heavy timber spike that slides through the frame and into the a hole drilled in the side of the door. A large dog couldn't force his way inside.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  9. Daisy_B

    Daisy_B New Egg

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    No tracks, no idea where the predator came from or went, just the piles of feathers. There are a few owl species in Australia (although I don't think around where I live - I assume they'd have to be a reasonable size to silently carry off four chickens at once).

    Would a fox eat all four in one night? Or do they hunt in packs? If they took the other chooks away with them to bury for later, is it normal they would de-feather them all first right outside the coop? I sort of thought if they were taking away the others as 'spare' food, they would just take the whole animal rather than neatly removing all the feathers first.

    Thanks very much for sharing your experiences. (Not much point setting up a camera at this stage since the whole flock is gone - and I'd like to have some idea of what might have happened without having to go through it again with a new flock.)
     
  10. aprophet

    aprophet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:
     

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