Lost our flock

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by andysforrest, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. andysforrest

    andysforrest In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2010
    Hi everyone,

    Well, over the last two nights, we lost our entire flock of 18 birds. We've had these chickens since last year. In the spring, we built a wood coop raised off the ground. We've had no extreme predator problems. We lost one chicken to a hawk during the late summer and one chicken to a racoon in early fall. (We think it was a racoon because it's head and crop were missing with the neck pulled through the fencing. Also, happened during daylight hours.) We've had no problems at night and the coop has appeared solid. Yesterday morning, we found 15 of our chickens dead inside the coop. Their necks were cut, but their carcasses were not eaten in any way. Three birds had made it through, although one was injured.

    My husband disposed of the carcasses and the entire coop was cleaned out, bedding removed and we inspected the floor. No holes at all, no cracks in the wood where something could get in. We had ventilation holes at the top of the coop which were screened. We found one screen pushed in and thought maybe this was how the predator got in. We boarded those all up to keep things out. Last night when we checked on the chickens (about 6pm), two were on the roosts and the injured one was still in a nesting box. There were two eggs in the nesting box next to her.

    This morning, we found the last three chickens dead. Same style - cut necks, head intact, carcasses not disturbed. The eggs were still in the nesting box. Here's my request for help:

    1) What predator am I dealing with?
    2) How do I protect any future flocks? (I'm sure there's more I can do, but what?)
    3) Is anyone in the Central IL area with more experience that would be willing to inspect my coop and give suggestions to improvement?

    I'm at a total loss and pretty devastated at this loss. It won't keep me down, but I need to learn more before I can move forward. Thanks for any help you can give!


  2. StevenW.

    StevenW. Lovin' My Quackers!

    Oct 7, 2010
    Central, Illinois
    Quote:I live in central IL if you need more hens just pm me [​IMG] and you need to have them closed uo ever night so the predators dont get in and yes sounds like raccoon
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2010
  3. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Crowing

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    1) What predator am I dealing with?

    I'd say some type of weasel siince it's coming in through a small opening, and only drinking blood

    2) How do I protect any future flocks?

    No openings larger than 1/4 inch
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010
  4. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    I'm not sure about the predator. I was always worrying about predators & still do but I installed hot wire around my coop & run. 2 strands of wire around the run . First strand 3 inches above ground & second strand about 18 inches above ground. The coop has only one wire about three inches above ground. I only turn it off when I let them out to free range so they don't get zapped going out & going back in.
  5. andysforrest

    andysforrest In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2010
    Today 10:40 am
    I live in central IL if you need more hens just pm me and you need to have them closed uo ever night so the predators dont get in and yes sounds like raccoon

    -----The flock was closed up at night. If we weren't going to be home prior to dark, they weren't let out during the day. On the first night in question, the chickens were put away at 4:15, which is well before dark. If it was a racoon, how did it get in??? I'm so bummed and definitely want more chickens, but I don't want to subject any others to something that's not safe.

    To Ducklover: Where in Central IL are you? I'm in the Bloomington area. I'd love to have some other chicken people see what we've done and see if I'm doing something wrong. (That goes for anyone who is willing to help us learn!)

  6. So sorry for your loss. [​IMG] Hope you can solve your mystery and get back to sharing your life with some chickens again sometime soon.
    Take care.
  7. drdoolittle

    drdoolittle Songster

    Jul 30, 2010
    NE Indiana
    It does sound like it must be a weasel--------we have them around here, but so far they haven't bothered the chickens. That may be because our chicken coop is half of a small barn that houses our 6 goats and a cat------maybe the presence of the cat keeps weasels away. I'm thinking of adding at least one more cat, if the one we have will accept another.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010

  8. sharol

    sharol Songster

    Jun 13, 2010
    Admire, KS
    Have you considered at 2 legged predator?
  9. andysforrest

    andysforrest In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2010
    Today 12:46 pm Have you considered at 2 legged predator?

    A 2-legged predator??? Like, a hawk or something? Again, I can't figure out how they would get in to a coop that is completely shut up. My husband wondered if the weasel could have been hiding inside the coop, like it came in the screened ventilation area, but didn't leave yesterday and then killed again last night. But, he didn't see anything and the coop was completely cleaned out to get rid of the blood and stuff from the first night.

    Again, I'm just baffled...
  10. I would say weasel. They are capable of fitting in TINY openings...

    I've seen a few in the last couple years. The

    dogs & cats kill them and leave them as "presents" around the yard. LOL

    Keep all bushes & trees away from the coop...keep the lawn/grass/weeds down...weasels like cover and climb very well. Use doubled up hardware cloth. They can fit through 1/2" wire easily, so at least 1/4" wire.



    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by