Lost my first hen to a predator

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Susan Dye, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. Susan Dye

    Susan Dye Crowing

    Jul 25, 2017
    Staunton, Va
    After 2 yrs of no problems with predators, I lost my BA, one of my favorite hens, night before last. She was, more or less, gutted and the carcass was left behind. Found no signs of digging or destruction of the fencing. Of course, winter has finally set in so I can't have my windows open at night so that I can hear any disturbance outside, So, I'm wondering, first, what may have attacked and killed my girl. My guess is a stray cat that I have often had to run off. The second thing I'm wondering about is has anyone used, with success, something on the line of a baby monitor in their coop? A trail cam, at least the ones I've seen, will only tell me what was out there, but will not alert me when the predator is present and active. Have a feeling if there is one that would tell me that, it would be more money than I can afford. Secured the hen house more effectively last night with no loss of life. Of course, I don't know that the predator came back last night. I'm still guessing it's the cat since no effort was made to break in last night. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    DobieLover, Chick-N-Fun and Shadrach like this.
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Crossing the Road

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    Securing the coop the BEST YOU CAN is the best choice. A baby monitor may help,,,,,, but I think that when you hear the distress,,,,, it may be already too late,,, or a false alarm also.
    The way you describe the chicken,,, it may have been the work of a opossum.??? A small to medium one possibly.:idunno
    Cats can be predators of chickens, but not very often. I know there will be a swarm of different opinions flowing from many different peeps out there.
    I have a Number of feral cats on my grounds,,,, and none of them bother my chickens. They did show much interest in baby chicks BTW, and also My Pigeons. They left my small banties alone for some reason even they were smaller than my pigeons. Serama Chicken in my avatar.
    WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :highfive:
    Haydog03, RoosterML, puffypoo and 5 others like this.
  3. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    I love my game cams. No they don't alert me to the threat, but when I notice something different the next time I go to the coop. I check the memory chip and know what I'm dealing with and take appropriate steps to alleviate. STC_0043.jpg
    I didn't loose any hens. But I am more diligent about locking up the coop securely as in double checking all latches. I have found that the coons come early morning, early evening and the middle of the night. They also work in pairs. In the second Pic you will see one trying to get in from below and another from above. STC_0068 (1)-3.JPG GC
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have used baby monitors but you need to respond when the sounds of alarm are made. After doing some learning since, I suggest adding a low power night light inside coop to make so birds can see their assailant. That will give more time to wake you up.

    Harden you coop as well and consider putting out a live trap baited with remains of bird you just lost. I am betting current problem is an Opossum..
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Even though the game cameras tell you only who is out there, they also where they are trying to break in. Additionally, most predators I deal with visit multiple times before attempting to take a chicken as generally there for something else first.
  6. ChickenDad921

    ChickenDad921 In the Brooder

    Jun 5, 2018
    This is our first year owning chickens. We haven't had a problem all spring/summer. Now I have moved them to the summer kitchen for the winter. Don't really have to worry about predators in there. Best you really can do is secure everything to the best of your ability. Good luck.
  7. JedJackson

    JedJackson Crossing the Road

    Jul 6, 2016
    NW Washington state
    I'm sorry about your loss. It's always tough when this kind of thing happens. Did this happen while they were in the coop at night? Was the coop secured? If so, you did right already by making it more secure. The coop really needs to be predator proof, which means there should be no way any animal can either dig in, or slither in through holes. Chicken wire should be replaced by 1/2" hardware cloth or smaller.

    If it happened during the day, you may need to start confining the birds in a secure run unless you are there to watch them.

    As to the predator, it is hard to say. Cats are capable but in my experience they rarely take grown chickens. It's possible, though. A starving animal will go to great lengths. A possum is another good guess, or maybe a skunk. Most other predators wouldn't have stopped with one bird.
  8. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    I’m sorry to read you’ve had a hen killed Susan. It’s particularly hard when they’ve been killed in the coop because one tends to believe that they’re safe in their coop and run.
    Tighter security is the best solution and often it isn’t that expensive or hard to do.

    I build my coops at least half a metre off the ground believing in part that this will help deter the diggers, but I’ve seen weasels on the lead in ramp trying to get through the mesh on the summer pop doors.

    Night camera’s can be useful but they wont stop a predator.
    A contact I’ve made in Australia has been experimenting with a PIR, but instead of activating a light it’s linked to a speaker and he’s experimenting with different snake recordings which aren’t loud but most creatures will back away from.
    This probably wont help you, but after the physical barriers are made good, it does show there are other less conventional options.
  9. Chick-N-Fun

    Chick-N-Fun Almy Acres Farm

    Jun 26, 2014
    Corning, NY
    I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet hen! Bear hugs! :hugs
    Best of luck securing the rest of your flock.
  10. Susan Dye

    Susan Dye Crowing

    Jul 25, 2017
    Staunton, Va
    Thank you all for your input. I am going to set a Havahart trap. If it's a cat, I'll call animal control or take it to the pound. If it's a wild animal, I can take it to the Wildlife Center. They are very welcoming of any kind of wild animal and will be able to release it after examining it for possible diseases. I live in the city and have a 6' privacy/wood fence. The hens have a little less than half the back yard fenced for free ranging. I know there can be wild life in the city, I used to see wild rabbits all the time. But, see that's why I think it's the cat I've seen hanging around the hen's yard. I USED to see rabbits. Haven't seen any since the cat started roaming the neighborhood. He used to come around early in the mornings, but I would spot him right away and run him off. Then he started showing up different times in the afternoon. And since I'm home most of the day, again I would run him off. He was studying the chickens and always approaching closer and closer. I think he was testing them to see how close he could get without raising an alarm and getting the girls comfortable with seeing him. He, or whatever it was, got Wanda inside the hen house. There were tons of her feathers inside, as well as small bits of her, but no feathers from any of the other girls. Wanda was my only BA, so it was easy to see that no other hens were attacked/caught. Don't know if the others fled to find shelter outside, or if they slept through the attack. Is that possible? Not the fleeing, but the sleeping. I don't have a rooster b/c they are not allowed in the city limits. I can't imagine a good roo allowing that to happen without raising an alarm. And don't most predators return when they find "easy" prey? From what I've read on this forum, most of the more common predators would not have been so easily discouraged by the few, so far, reinforcements I've made.
    Haydog03, cavemanrich and JedJackson like this.

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