Losing chickens left and right

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by khudak, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. khudak

    khudak Hatching

    Mar 5, 2013
    Hi All. It all started about 3 weeks ago, I found the first hen... then shortly after, a rooster and another hen 2 consecutive days. The first hen was outside the coop and had been eaten pretty well. The rooster was inside the coop, only head missing, the other hen just had some of her breast missing. At that time my coop was admittedly not the most secure.. they were in a barn stall that went out into a 6ft welded wire enclosure. It wouldn't have been too hard for something to get to them.

    After that happened I moved the remaining 5 hens to a chain link dog kennel that has a secure roof. This morning I found 2 more hens, heads eaten off inside the kennel. No signs of anything digging underneath, so it had to be something that could get through the chain link of the kennel.. I read that racoons will reach through the fence...but if this is happening at night... my girls sleep on top of a dog house that is in the kennel. One of the girls from this morning was right near the edge of the fence on the inside... like something tried to pull her through, and the other was behind her a little bit. From what I have read on here, racoons or weasels are my best guess.

    However..I could be wrong, but I dont think they would come off from ontop of the dog house where they sleep and down next to the fence in the middle of the night to get close enough to whatever was doing it... how would the raccoon reach through and grab them if they were up on the dog house..in the back. Three sides of the kennel are covered with tarps... so the only open way to get to the chickens is the front. A raccoon could not reach through and grab them from the front if they were ontop their house..where they always are at night. I walk by the chickens at night when they are roosting, with my dogs, and they dont ever come off the house, even if a dog, or me, is right in front of their kennel. So why would they come down for a raccoon to grab them. So, what is small enough to get their entire body through the chainlink to get to them? A weasel?? But really, did a little weasel really kill my huge jerk of a rooster? That Roo was nasty even with me.. and I fed him everyday.. and he was HUGE!

    I just dont know what to do... I have only 3 girls left. I want to protect them..what the heck is doing this, and how can I stop it? Is the only safe place for chickens something that is totally enclosed on all 4 sides, with no fencing? Like a shed? I have a huge empty barn, that I want to try and use if I can get it more secure, or atleast one stall more secure... but if they are getting through something that is the size of a chainlink opening... ugh. So frustrating.

  2. rgoodwin

    rgoodwin In the Brooder

    Mar 5, 2013
    sounds kinda like mink My friend or maybe a skunk. Do you live near a creek?
  3. lovincolorado

    lovincolorado In the Brooder

    Jul 28, 2012
    Bailey, CO
    This story makes me feel fortunate about my losses to the fox...I didnt have to find the carnage...they just disappeared. I agree probably weasel. From all I learned especially here on BYC, the best predator proof fencing is hardware cloth, but it has to be buried to prevent the digging predrtos from gaining access. Im sure you can still modify your barn to work, just consider predators in your area, and outsmart them!
    good luck. Im sorry for your loss
  4. BillHoo

    BillHoo In the Brooder

    Mar 4, 2008
    You need to use hardware cloth everywhere and get an electric fence charger and some wire.

    Also cover the ground around the coop and run with hardware cloth like this lady did:

    Foxes and other predators will climb and probe every part around your enclosure looking for a way in

  5. Abby Tengu

    Abby Tengu In the Brooder

    Sep 23, 2012
    I thought my chicken shed was safe from predators until I found my setting hen killed because the predator wanted the eggs. It turned out to be an opossum. I was amazed that it managed to slip through a very small opening where the walls met the roof. There was no way to climb up the shed. The opossum must have climbed a nearby tree and dropped on the roof. I wouldn't have thought it possible. Now all openings no matter how small had chicken wire blocking them.
    I'm really sorry about the deaths of your chickens. It feels like a heavy weight when they're being killed, one by one.

    Now I have a different chicken shelter that's exposed to night time predators while I get the new shelter built. So far, no lives have been lost because I have two dogs who are obsessed with chasing away animals who threaten the chickens. I also gave the chickens a light at night. If they see something they don't like, they squawk loud enough to alert the dogs. Also, with a light, they have a chance to get away or peck at their attacker.

  6. Campine

    Campine Chirping

    Aug 17, 2012
    Weasel is my guess. Put a dead chicken in a live trap, that's how I caught mine.
  7. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Songster

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    I have tried live traps for weasel unsuccessfully as they are so small they didn't set off the trap reliably. I built a box with a small 1 inch or 1.5 inch hole in it and a victor rat trap inside and a good bloody piece of liver. That is an almost guaranteed way to catch those little bastages.
    1 person likes this.
  8. feathers50

    feathers50 Hatching

    Oct 8, 2008
    northeast florida-Palatka
    I have the same kind of chicken coop made from an old dog kennel and last week something got inside a 3 in wide opening between the door and the side of the kennel. We have tried trapping but it's too smart to go in the trap. I have seen it and it is a fox. We blocked up that 3 in space and it hasn't gotten back in but my remaining chickens are terrified and won't go in the coop at night now. They go in the woods and come back in the morning. I was wondering if putting some of those solar path lights in the pen would work. This thing comes back every night even though it's been four days since it has been able to get in.
  9. JanetS

    JanetS Songster

    Jun 22, 2012
    We have a bobcat that has been coming back for over 2 months looking for more chickens.

    He/she got one of our hens while they were free ranging.
    We used 1/2" hardware cloth on both the coop and run. It's pricey but worth it. We haven't lost one chicken while they are in their pen. Sorry for your loss.

  10. Abby Tengu

    Abby Tengu In the Brooder

    Sep 23, 2012
    When predators can't hide in the dark, they might be afraid of getting pecked by chickens. I trapped a skunk and while I was trying to figure out how to let it lose without getting sprayed, I noticed that it was terrified whenever a hen walked over to the trap to look at it. In the dark, the chickens can't see enough to get out of the way or peck. A good nightlight is a game changer, I think.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by