Lost 5 in Two Days... And the Plot Thickens... (Update)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by bobbi-j, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I got 6 pullets from a friend 1 1/2 weeks ago. They were just starting to lay (on Sat. there were 5 cute little pullet eggs in the coop). On Sat. we let them out to free range with the rest of the flock (no lectures on quarantining, please - it's a choice I made and that's the end of it). Saturday night they were all back in their coop. Sunday morning everyone went out, Sunday night 5 were in the coop. DH let them out yesterday and went to work at his sister's all day, I was at my job. Everyone present and accounted for last night. Today, DH was around most of the day except for a few hours while out doing fieldwork. Tonight, 4 more of the new pullets are missing. There are no feather piles, no carcasses, so I don't think it's our dog (10 month old Redbone Coonhound mix with history of killing chickens in June, but there was evidence EVERYWHERE). I'm guessing it's most likely a coyote. When I came up to the house and told DH about it, he said, "Well, that maybe explains why they all went running for cover late this afternoon." I guess he looked out his office window and saw them all scattering. But we've seen that anytime any large bird flies over, so it wasn't on his radar to check it out. I find it interesting that it was all the new birds that have disappeared. I don't know if they free ranged where they used to live or not. If not, they maybe just didn't know to run for cover. Needless to day, they'll all be cooped for awhile.
  2. minnehaha

    minnehaha Songster

    Mar 13, 2014
    Spokane, WA
    AAAAWWWWW...I am so sorry you lost your pullets. [​IMG]. My neighbors lost 4 pullets last week to coyotes who dug under the fence. I lost my cat at the same time. I felt so bad for my neighbor that I gave her 4 of my pullets.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Well, I thought I had the culprit figured out. I may still have, but I'm not sure. I found a couple of feather piles by the house where the dog likes to drag his "treasures" and chew on them. But not nearly enough feathers for 5 birds, and no carcasses. I found a trail of feathers - not many, but mostly downy type ones going from the area where they range into the soybean field right next to the area. On the other side of this field (I'm terrible at measurements, so I have no idea how far - maybe the length of a few city blocks) is a slough where we have, in the past, chased coyotes out while deer hunting. So now I'm torn between "It was the dog" and "It was coyotes". I did have coyotes wipe out 5 or so in a day last year while we were on vacation. I know for sure it was them because we didn't have a dog at the time. Opinions, anyone? I still find it suspicious that it was only the new ones. That's the main reason I was thinking dog. He has not bothered the chickens that were here when we got him, or the ones that were hatched on the place - thanks to broody mamas. But the ones he killed in June were meat birds that were shipped to us. And he did show some interest in these new pullets, too. So, go ahead and tell me what you think. Centrarchid, I'd be especially interested in your opinion.
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    I'm very sorry, bobbi. Sounds like could be a combination of coyote and your dog getting a carcass left by the coyote maybe. But, I'm no expert, just going on your evidence you stated.
  5. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

    Jun 10, 2014
    I wouldn't read too much into the feathers in the dog's happy place - my dog isn't outside more than 2 minutes before he has a goose feather in his mouth - they're tasty. He doesn't chase or bother the geese (they chase and bother him) or other fowl.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Calling @centrarchid for you.

    Bummer bobbi-j, so sorry. Wonder if because the new chooks were unfamiliar with the place, maybe didn't pay attention to hearing something that didn't belong that the long time residents would have?
  7. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Any updates, Bobbi?
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Thanks for asking - no updates. I still haven't found any carcasses, and it's been warm enough her that there should be an odor by now if they were just laying about. So, the thoughts are that they were either carried off, or it was the dog and he buried them. The chickens are still locked up for now. I figure another week or so, and I'll start letting the now two flocks out on alternating days, making sure the dog is kenneled anytime they're out and we won't be around. If they still disappear, at least we know that it's not the dog... The flock got separated to this year's crop of chicks plus two one-year olds from last year, and the "old" girls (2 1/2 year olds). I figure it'll make it easier that way when it comes time to thin the flock. Torn about the roosters, though. The "old" guy is in with the hens, the new one that I like is with the pullets. What I'd really like is if I could keep them both...
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Quote: Ah, I hear ya. I've been there so many times with rooster decisions.

    I hope you solve the mystery soon. Seems like if the dog buried something, he'd have dug it up again for "seconds", as they sometimes do. Just thought I'd check in with you on this one.
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Dog within age range when episodes of bad behavior to be expected. He also will not yet be competent against a coyote even when he a considerable size advantage. Not too long ago I had a coyote come in and kill a few birds. Pup at the time (Scoob) policed up a couple of carcasses and brought them into yard and laid down among them. I saw carcasses initially thinking Scoob was culprit but noted very little feather damage especially where I found carcasses. Killer also was very good at killing, better than a fox which often has to wrestle victims with multiple bites. Very shortly as less than an hour later the carcasses were removed while Scoob was confined. Culprit was watching entire time I trying to figure things out. Later I found kill sites some distance from house after a few more birds were lost. Scoob at that time simply watched as far as I kind tell. I tend to have good depth in free-ranging birds making such losses easy to absorb and expected. If I am correct, keep your pup out of fights with coyote as getting whipped now can make many dogs, even LGD's less effective later.

    The behavior of birds when dog walks through flock can be informative as well. Birds scared of dog?

    Also once dog is mature, flock does not have to spread out much to make dog's defending efforts very difficult if working alone. Remember the snatch and run often done by Mr. Fox. Predator with good lead can get away if dog does not press chase very far. That is why I opted for speed and more than one dog to stop that nonsense.

    One more thing, check around fence areas that might slow dog down. If chickens get in there you can have problems keeping predators out.

    Currently I am having all sorts of fun with hawks as they rile birds up in pasture. They are not after chickens, rather after songbirds hiding in cover patches used for juveniles during warmer part of year. Even had a Coopers Hawk try to catch a Sharp-shinned hawk with later almost taking my head off as it buzzed past. Mareks will soon likely be popping up as a result of the songbirds.

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