Lost half my flock in one night: mystery predator

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by CH, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. CH

    CH New Egg

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    Here's my story. I work night shift, so I can't be at home to close the coop door. Because of this I built a very secure run (or so I thought) with 6' fence, 5' above ground, 1' burried under ground to deter digging predators. The run is in a fairly wooded area and all open spots have a hanging hawk deterrent, so attack from the air has never been a problem. Everyting was fine for over 4 months, so I thought my set-up was great.

    Well, I came home one day to find 3 of my 6 buff orpingtons gone. No blood, no remains, nothing but some feathers left behind. After inspecting the area I found some feathers stuck between the fence and the top of a T-post. This lead me to believe something climbed the 5' fence, grabbed my birds, and drug them back over the fence to escape. My orpingtons are not full grown, but they are fairly large. What could carry one while climbing a 5' fence? I'm guessing raccoon or fox.

    Today I got a large trap and some materials to set up an electric fence. I know many people leave their coop open without issue, and I would like to do the same. With all the money I've already spent on this I really don't want to have to get an automatic coop door, and besides I've seen fox and raccoon in the day here so if the run isn't secure an auto-door won't help.

    Being reduced to 3 birds hurts, especially since I've been looking forward to the eggs and now I have to start over with chicks (if I can even get any at this point in the year). Not to mention having to make another area to seperate them from the 3 grown birds, getting more chick starter, etc. Incredible how much time and money can be lost in one night, and I know many of you have had much bigger losses than I.

    I know I have to work fast to get that electric fence up (if that will even help), since whatever ate my chickens will be back for more. Hopefully the trap will catch something in the mean time. If not I'll probably have a total loss and have to start all over. Kinda makes me want to give up but I already have a lot of money invested in this. [​IMG]

    Advice and suggestions would be appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2010
  2. bonder

    bonder Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 2, 2010
    I don't have any advice as I'm rather new to chickens as well, but I feel terrible for you: Good luck!
     
  3. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    So sorry about your loss.

    If the predator climbed over, can you cover the run?

    Imp
     
  4. CH

    CH New Egg

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    Jun 12, 2010
    Covering the run is not economically feasible. The run is around 1600 sq ft with many large trees and bushes inside.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2010
  5. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Quote:That's a huge run. [​IMG]

    Just an idea, what about a fence topper angled out, like the barbed wire you see on top of chainlink.
    I think electric fence is a great idea. People here with it seem to really like it.

    Imp
     
  6. carrlr

    carrlr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry for your losses. You might want to construct a small run, with a covering, for the three remaining birds until you catch this predator. I'm going with a Raccoon at this point. I think trapping is your best bet. If you have large trees anywhere close to your extremely large run, raccoons will climb the trees and jump into the run. If there are no trees you'll want to use a two strand electrical fence. One strand around 12" from the ground and the second about 12" down from the top edge. If the predator jumps above the lower wire, the upper one will get him. Best wishes.
     
  7. nuttyredhead

    nuttyredhead Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2010
    Southern NH
    Im so sorry for you.
     
  8. jenjscott

    jenjscott Mosquito Beach Poultry

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    Don't forget bobcat as a possibility. Put one or two electric strands around the bottom and one around the top. I have had great success with this in kritter kountry.
     
  9. turtlebird

    turtlebird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is your coop spacious enough that you could close your remaining 3 ladies in before you leave for work while you are figuring out how to fortify your run? I would hate for you to lose them all, as you can count FOR SURE that something will be back for a free chicken dinner.
     
  10. bluehenluvr

    bluehenluvr Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 22, 2010
    I can assure you that if you dont cover you're run or close the coop at night, you will continue to lose birds. That sounds like a coon.
     

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