Losing one chicken a day!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Hank's brood, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Hank's brood

    Hank's brood New Egg

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    Jun 14, 2011
    I was reading the different problems with predators, and hoped to find one that would tell me where to look or what to do. But I don't have a predator getting in the coop or raiding my flock at night. My free range flock are getting picked off during the day. On Sunday, one of my dogs got out and I thought he had gotten a hen, although I couldn't find it but saw a lot of feathers - both black and yellow. And one Buff Orpington was missing. The next day I found more feathers and a Rhode Island Red was missing. Today, a Silver Laced Wyandotte was missing. But I went into the woods by where I found the feathers and found her headless body. I believe we might have interrupted the predator in process. In the same area, we also found more feathers from the Red, but no body of either the Red or Buff. We think the black feathers from an Astrolorp might have been one that managed to escape, since we aren't missing any. Everything I read doesn't seem to fit - it's one chicken a day (for the last 3 days); eating the head first (based on the carcass we found); drags off or eats the rest of the body (since we aren't finding the carcasses); and it happens during the day not night. We ruled out a hawk since feathers were found going on the edge of the woods and then going in the woods, leading us to the carcass. We haven't seen any sign of a fox. Wouldn't a coon hunt at night? I would appreciate any ideas, suggestions, help. (By the way, we will now pen them in during the day until we know what predator to look for and how to catch him).
     
  2. Whitewinterwolf

    Whitewinterwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2011
    Massachusetts
    Hank's brood :

    I was reading the different problems with predators, and hoped to find one that would tell me where to look or what to do. But I don't have a predator getting in the coop or raiding my flock at night. My free range flock are getting picked off during the day. On Sunday, one of my dogs got out and I thought he had gotten a hen, although I couldn't find it but saw a lot of feathers - both black and yellow. And one Buff Orpington was missing. The next day I found more feathers and a Rhode Island Red was missing. Today, a Silver Laced Wyandotte was missing. But I went into the woods by where I found the feathers and found her headless body. I believe we might have interrupted the predator in process. In the same area, we also found more feathers from the Red, but no body of either the Red or Buff. We think the black feathers from an Astrolorp might have been one that managed to escape, since we aren't missing any. Everything I read doesn't seem to fit - it's one chicken a day (for the last 3 days); eating the head first (based on the carcass we found); drags off or eats the rest of the body (since we aren't finding the carcasses); and it happens during the day not night. We ruled out a hawk since feathers were found going on the edge of the woods and then going in the woods, leading us to the carcass. We haven't seen any sign of a fox. Wouldn't a coon hunt at night? I would appreciate any ideas, suggestions, help. (By the way, we will now pen them in during the day until we know what predator to look for and how to catch him).

    Hmm, head first really sounds like raccoon, and they don't always come out only at night, they can come out during the day also.
    I would think about installing a game cam to see what wanders past.
    Wish I had more to tell you, but that's my best guess! Best luck to you!​
     
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    You are being hit by a fox, they race thru, grab a bird and keep on moving till they are far away enough to feel safe to stop. A hawk would not enter thick woods, rather they go to their nest or up to a roost. Owls and coons mainly hunt at night. I'll almost bet a fox found you and he will be back till you run out of birds or stop him. Suggest you lockdown in a skirted run (fox dig well) and look into a electric fence set up and smoke the varmit!
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
  4. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

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    bryan...hawks will eat where they kill on the ground if they feel safe. But OP your predator sounds like a fox. They will hunt during the day...females with kits are especially troublesome this time of year.
     
  5. 5Leepy!

    5Leepy! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Austin, TX
    I vote hawk. Neighbors of mine lose some to hawks and they end up headless if the chicken is too heavy for the hawk to fly very far with. I'm sorry this is happening, good luck

    Aisha
     
  6. homesteadmomma

    homesteadmomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Parke Co. Indiana
    I'm going to have to vote for a fox or a raccoon. I had three pullets killed in one night that had their heads crushed/torn off and two had been drug away. I wasn't sure what had gotten to them, because I really thought our enclosed run would prevent almost any predator that we have around. The next night I was tucking in the girls and locking them up and heard something climbing the run fence, luckily I always carry a .22 when I go out, because honestly, I'm a bit scared of the dark and it makes me feel safer hehehe. So anyways I peek outside through the window and here is a coon prying up a 150+lb panel that wasn't securely fastened to the side panel. I had the gun waiting for him at the chicken door.
     
  7. Hank's brood

    Hank's brood New Egg

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    Jun 14, 2011
    Thanks for everyone for their posts. We have considered all the predators everyone has mentioned and have kind of ruled out a hawk. We are leaning more towards a fox or raccoon, as there are both here (all I have ever seen are the coons). And if this is kit season, a fox makes the most sense. So will we have to go through this every spring when kits are born??
     
  8. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

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    Howell Michigan
    All chickens are is a walking lunch for some predator. As long as they exist in your area and you allow your birds to free range you are going to lose some. You have several options you could use. One would be to start an aggressive trapping program to reduce their numbers. Live box traps can catch raccoons, skunks, and opossums. Although many raccoons soon learn how to steal the bait without getting caught. If that happens you'll need to go to a leg hold trap. I've had great success with Duke dog proof coon traps. Fox and coyotes are much more difficult to trap and snares seem to be the most effective.

    There isn't much you can do if you main predator is a raptor. Federal laws protect them and the penalties can be quite expensive. Often a rooster can help keep the flock alerted to the airborne danger and they can take cover under bushes or field shelters that you have provided. Nothing is fool proof protection for raptors unless you keep your flock under netting.
    While many hawks hunt open fields you can't assume that letting your birds free range in a woods will keep them safe. Some species of hawks, like Cooper's and Goshawks hunt quite well in thick woods.

    Poisons are also a method of last resort but their use and placement must be well thought out since they don't descrimanate and the result is terminal. The last thing you want is kill your own animals while trying to get rid of a predator.
     
  9. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

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    Hank's brood :

    Thanks for everyone for their posts. We have considered all the predators everyone has mentioned and have kind of ruled out a hawk. We are leaning more towards a fox or raccoon, as there are both here (all I have ever seen are the coons). And if this is kit season, a fox makes the most sense. So will we have to go through this every spring when kits are born??

    So now that you know it could have been a fox or a coon, the true question beg's. What do you plan to do to prevent it again ??. Do you still plan to let the birds free range unsupervised ??, Build any coverd run's or anything. How many birds can you effectively lose to collateral losses before restocking ?.​
     

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