It finally happened.... 😭

rumbleBee_STi

Songster
Jun 10, 2020
315
410
156
Sylva, North Carolina
I finally had my first chicken loss, & I haven’t stopped crying since. 😞 Pretty sure it happened sometime during the day this past Saturday. I only let my chooks free range if I’m able to be outside with them. Saturday evening I was getting everyone back into their run for coop time. While I was giving their last feed for the night, my husband says “I’m only counting 3 white (leghorn) ones.” I told him to check the coop, because sometimes they’ll go in early or be laying their egg before bed time. That’s when I started getting nervous. My leghorns never miss the opportunity for food, ever. We search on top of the ridge while I yelled “chook chook”. My husband said he was going to go walk around the hill below both runs. I was running inside to get the flash light & my husband yells out “Sam? I found feathers.” I ran down to where he was, sure enough... tons of feathers, & then an obvious trail of stray feathers. I followed the trail, more piles of feathers, also the remains of what my chook had in her crop. I started bawling my eyes out😭 Never found her body. Never heard anything. No squawking, no rustling. None of the flocks acted like they heard anything. I know this is part of keeping chickens, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. I’m terrified to let the rest of my chooks out now. The area where she was taken, my small group of 14 week old EE’s are always trying to range in. We’ve had a fox hitting our trail cam, & I’m pretty sure that’s what took my girl 💔 The picture shows how close she was taken from where all the runs/coops are, & from where I usually hangout at when they’re outside
E4F8AFE9-7163-4E7B-AE93-562A26B38496.jpeg
 

Offshoreorca

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Apr 15, 2020
1,211
4,711
356
Nova Scotia
My Coop
My Coop
Hi! I am so sorry for your loss. This is inevitable if you free range your girls, even with some supervision (which often cuts down, but doesn’t completely get rid of the risks). Every time it happens, it’s devastating. 😢 We had a young pullet taken by a hawk a few years ago and I’ve been careful to watch them closely ever since - and only free range them when I’m working in the yard for a couple hours. It could have well been a fox, but also might have been a number of other critters too. I would keep your girls inside their run and coop for a few weeks as many predators come back once they know there is easy food around. They will often move on if that food source isn’t there anymore.

Do the chickens go deep into the woods? Ours don’t go as far as your photo shows, so I wonder if the chicken was there or grabbed off your lawn and dragged there? If they’re going too far into the woods to forage, you might want to set up a bit of a barrier so they don’t. I give them just enough room under the trees that they can get away from aerial predators like hawks and owls, but not enough so they can easily run amuck of the forest dwelling predators.
 

rumbleBee_STi

Songster
Jun 10, 2020
315
410
156
Sylva, North Carolina
Hi! I am so sorry for your loss. This is inevitable if you free range your girls, even with some supervision (which often cuts down, but doesn’t completely get rid of the risks). Every time it happens, it’s devastating. 😢 We had a young pullet taken by a hawk a few years ago and I’ve been careful to watch them closely ever since - and only free range them when I’m working in the yard for a couple hours. It could have well been a fox, but also might have been a number of other critters too. I would keep your girls inside their run and coop for a few weeks as many predators come back once they know there is easy food around. They will often move on if that food source isn’t there anymore.

Do the chickens go deep into the woods? Ours don’t go as far as your photo shows, so I wonder if the chicken was there or grabbed off your lawn and dragged there? If they’re going too far into the woods to forage, you might want to set up a bit of a barrier so they don’t. I give them just enough room under the trees that they can get away from aerial predators like hawks and owls, but not enough so they can easily run amuck of the forest dwelling predators.
I have dreaded this day ever since I started free ranging them 😞 We have lots of hawks too, never had one try swooping down before though. It is very devastating, I had named all of my leghorns but after a while they all looked the exact same & eventually lost their colored ankle bracelets except for 1 girl so I started calling them “White girl 1,2,3,4” & saying their actual names now just feels so heartbreaking because i have no clue which girl was taken, even though none of them are my actual favorites, it’s still devastating. I assumed fox because of how quiet & undisturbed the attack was, but it could’ve been anything like you said. 😞

Well... we live on top of a mountain, but it isn’t very secluded. We have neighbors on almost every side of us but they aren’t next-door-neighbors & in between us & our neighbors is very woodsy. I have a black copper Maran rooster & the girls will usually follow him & he doesn’t go very far into woods. They’ve gone further than what the picture shows but that was a while back & they haven’t gone that far since. My leghorns are the ones who tend to range by themselves a lot of the time, so I kind of have a feeling my one girl was off by herself down there & something seen their chance & got her 😞. Or I could’ve went inside for any reason & she was grabbed then but I have no clue... I never stay inside long if my chooks are ranging but it doesn’t take long for something to grab one of them I guess. I know that if she were to have made a noise my rooster would’ve came running, like he always does when they squawk for no reason. My husband has started a plan to cut most of the trees & limbs down & put up an electric fence & other types of barriers.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,113
41,660
1,156
southern Michigan
I'm so sorry for your loss, it's hard. free ranging is wonderful for the birds, most of the time. Until it isn't, and I agree that you need to keep your birds in their safe coop and run for two weeks or so, hoping that your visiting predator does leave.
Reset your camera towards that area, you might see who's visiting. We've had losses like that to hawks; one bird, partially eaten and found not too far away. A fox is also a good possibility. Chickens are on everyone's menu!
Chickens do prefer wooded areas and shrub cover, they were jungle animals originally. Having them in open areas isn't best either.
Well set up electric fencing will deter many land predators, a very good thing!
Mary
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
9 Years
Sep 22, 2012
7,280
26,710
932
Germany
I am sorry for your loss.

When free ranging it is best to not have any lighter coloured chickens, as they get detected more easily by predators even when trying to hide in the undergrowth.
 
Last edited:

ackie

previously jwehl // dogs & cats & squirrels oh my!
Nov 3, 2020
5,131
15,965
556
Atlanta GA
I am sorry for your loss.

When free ranging it is best to not have any lighter coloured chickens, as they get detected more easily by predators even when trying to hide in the undergrowth.
I'm tempted to breed my unexpected white birds together but... then I'll have this exact problem.
 

CrazyCochin

❄️Winter is here! ❄️
May 21, 2019
5,220
35,679
901
Washington State, aka The pacific NorthWest
I finally had my first chicken loss, & I haven’t stopped crying since. 😞 Pretty sure it happened sometime during the day this past Saturday. I only let my chooks free range if I’m able to be outside with them. Saturday evening I was getting everyone back into their run for coop time. While I was giving their last feed for the night, my husband says “I’m only counting 3 white (leghorn) ones.” I told him to check the coop, because sometimes they’ll go in early or be laying their egg before bed time. That’s when I started getting nervous. My leghorns never miss the opportunity for food, ever. We search on top of the ridge while I yelled “chook chook”. My husband said he was going to go walk around the hill below both runs. I was running inside to get the flash light & my husband yells out “Sam? I found feathers.” I ran down to where he was, sure enough... tons of feathers, & then an obvious trail of stray feathers. I followed the trail, more piles of feathers, also the remains of what my chook had in her crop. I started bawling my eyes out😭 Never found her body. Never heard anything. No squawking, no rustling. None of the flocks acted like they heard anything. I know this is part of keeping chickens, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. I’m terrified to let the rest of my chooks out now. The area where she was taken, my small group of 14 week old EE’s are always trying to range in. We’ve had a fox hitting our trail cam, & I’m pretty sure that’s what took my girl 💔 The picture shows how close she was taken from where all the runs/coops are, & from where I usually hangout at when they’re outside View attachment 2449005
I am so sorry for your loss, my sympathy goes out to you, :hugs 🤗
I know what it feels like, we have lost two roosters and never found the bodies, but the best you can do is work hard to make sure your other feather babies are safe, God bless you and your flock!
 

Willow2253

Crowing
Dec 6, 2019
1,416
4,761
336
Eastern Oregon
I’m so sorry for your loss. The only time I’ve lost birds to predators was while nobody was home, so mine only get to free range when somebody is home or the dogs are on guard now. I had two favorites that I never found this year, I know it can be hard.
 

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