Lost 8- all dead or is there hope?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by StonebeckFarm, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. StonebeckFarm

    StonebeckFarm In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2007
    Wayupstate NY
    Wednesday morning we lost 8 hens - all 11 weeks old while they were free ranging in the yard/pasture and we were home. They were part of a flock of 25. We looked for the missing hens as we were putting their sisters to and my husband found several piles of feather on the other side of the fence, down the embankment towards the marshy area left over from the former beaver pond. Due to the heat the hens had taken to lying under an old plum tree and roosting in the branches. The tree extends over the fence. We have made several searches for them over the last 24 hours. We found one pile of feathers that lets us know one barred rock was definitely eaten. And there were quite a few feathers from Pearl- our Rhode Island Red who was mostly white- with just a red neck and head. But we found no black feathers and two black sex-link birds were missing. (4 Rhode Island Reds, 2 black sex-link and 2 Barred Rocks are gone). My husband searched for quite a while this afternoon, but no other evidence of death except the feathers we already found.

    Could a fox have gotten all 8? Is there any hope that a few might show back up after getting really scared and going into hiding? I thought I heard one while I was looking for them last night- but it was 10pm and I had a weak flash light. I tried to find it, but had to finally give up.

    (We live in the country so there are tons of predators.)

    Thanks for any insight- we are all really sad right now.
  2. rufus

    rufus Crowing

    May 17, 2007
    Eight at once! Either it is a pack of coyotes, or a two legged predator. My money is on the latter. Somebody is having a family get together or a church supper. Don't trust your neighbors. If they would steal chickens they will steal anything.

  3. Bubba

    Bubba Songster

    Jun 18, 2007
    Did you happen to look for tracks? That may be your best clue. Unless the fox was killing them and running them back to the den one at a time I doubt it. Coyotes maybe, human more likely... Sorry losing any pet sucks, losing 8 :mad:[​IMG]

  4. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    [​IMG] I am so sorry for your loss. It's so hard to lose our pets especially when they are so young.

    Yes, definately check for tracks or bits of fur caught on the bush or the fence. But at this time of the year it could be a mama fox and her older young ones hunting together, or coyotes, or dogs.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    That's a good one. Usually if a predator gets them... there are at least some feathers. I say it could have easily been two legged, especially if they were tame. Else I would expect that there would be feathers or some blood and mayhem in the group. It could have been a pack of dogs but then I'd expect dead birds on the ground... could have been hawks but why are 8 gone? They do one at a time... so I guess humans sadily if they dont come back tonight.
  6. usbr

    usbr Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    11 weeks is still a pretty small chicken so I can see a family of foxes taking quite a few of them but obvously, the larger the predator, the easier it would be to eat them all. Any dogs running the neighborhood? I dont think any 2 legged perdators took them, when humans take chickens they usually dont pluck them nearby and you said you found feather piles. You didnt mention coons but dont rule them out and I have had them work in groups, weather intentional or not they were out in force a few times. I also had a rooster come back the next day after a attack, he just showed up around 11am, strutting like he owned the place and he saved the day. I didnt have the heart to tell him he was the fastest chicken I ever seen as he ran away from the coon and I took care of the problem. Im sure he told the girls he was the bombdiggity but I knew better. In anycase, you may be able to find a lost hen running around somewhere but it will be hard if they are our on thier own for too long.

  7. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Songster

    Apr 18, 2007
    Like USBR said, people who steal chickens don't settle down to pluck them on site. So no, I'm quite sure it wasn't human poaching.

    Multiple hits like you've experienced sound quite canine to me. Since you didn't find any dead and mangled birds, I doubt it's domestic dog(s). That leaves fox and coyote.

    Foxes usually take one. If you've got a few foxes running together, that's a few chickens. You will usually find a pile of feathers where the fox runs the bird to ground. Rather late in the season for a vixen to be busy with her kits, but not impossible.

    Coyotes are another possibility. Coyotes will sometimes take a large number of birds, caching them. Foxes will cache food also, but the coyotes seem more inclined to do this than the foxes.
  8. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    Chickens will go into hiding after a terrible scare. I hope you get lucky.
  9. StonebeckFarm

    StonebeckFarm In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2007
    Wayupstate NY
    Thank you all. Fox and coy dogs were our guess. I just didn't know they could take that many. [​IMG] My husband heard coy dogs yesterday. We live on 53 acres and don't have close neighbors. (We know the ones we do have and they have no interest in stealing chickens- one is a single man who builds luxury homes who is not home at that time and the other family is mostly vegetarian. They were not home either.) 35 of the acres are "wetlands"- either current or former beaver ponds. The other acres are forest, mountain, and pasture area. The pasture is large and was a former corral (15 years ago) and prior to that, a cow pasture. (20 years ago). The chickens and the garden are in the pasture between the barns.

    Currently we have the ladies spending the day in the tractor (aka the poultry chapel due to its steep pitched roof) and letting them free range right before bed as they go into their house (the coop) on their own. We are going to add a run as soon as my husband finishes his current building project.

    Chickbea- how would I find them if they went into hiding?

    Foxtrapper- Would I have heard any sounds if the coy dogs got them? I never heard any squawking at all. We hear the Blue heron in the current beaver pond all the time so I can hear a ruckus being made. Since Wednesday, I have jumped at every little sound.
  10. EboyDog

    EboyDog In the Brooder

    Jul 15, 2007
    Hallsville MO
    Have any showed up?? They will go hide and hide VERY well, a couple months ago my dog got into mine and unfortunatly got my favorite rooster; I thought I had lost 2 others until the next day they showed up. Prior to this, the rooster the dog got had been chased by my dog early inthe morning (the rooster had this thing for roosting in a tree at night instead of the coop) and he disappeared for an entire day and I gave up and considered the worse when in the afternoon after I let his girls out to range, he showed up and acted like nothing happened!

    When the two dissapeared, I searched all over, in the trees, in the tall weeds and grass near the house but with no success until they just appeared all on their own.

    If it was four legged preditor, there is a good chance that your flock scattered and some are hiding.

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