Lost two chickens within a week!

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14 Years
Aug 12, 2008
Mullica Twp., NJ
We took in a 6 or 7 month old Americauna rooster last week, and were in the process of introducing him gradually to our existing flock, by letting him free range nearby, so the rest of the flock could get used to his presence. This seemed to be going very well, until we found him lying dead in the yard when we went out to put him away for the night. He was missing some feathers on his back, but other than that, there was no sign of serious injury that we could see easily. My husband and I were wondering if our usually chicken-friendly dog had decided to "play" with him because he was wandering all alone. I even thought maybe she didn't recognize that he belonged there, since he was new to the family. She'd never had a problem with any of our other chickens, over the past year that we'd had them, though. We never could figure out what could have happened to him.

Anyway, we let our other chickens out to free range yesterday, and then found one of our hens dead, around the same area that the rooster had been found. She had obviously been killed by some kind of predator because her back was ripped open, and possibly partially eaten. This was in an area that was separate from where our dogs are penned, although they have been known to get in from time to time. It didn't appear that they had gotten in there, however, or been involved in the attack. They had no blood or other "evidence" on their fur, for example. We do have stray cats in the neighborhood, but they usually don't venture into our back yard because of our dogs, goats, and horse.

Since the area where we found the dead birds is close to the chain-link fence that borders our property, I was wondering if a predator could have "laid in wait" for a straggler to venture away from the flock, before attacking near the safety of the fence barrier. I think this particular hen was likely to forage apart from the rest of the group, because she's been trying to steer clear from the advances of the larger orp rooster. Poor girl! She was our very best layer, and our last surviving Andalusian hen from our first batch of Meyer hatchery chicks. I guess we'll have to keep the rest of the chickens cooped up in their run unless someone is home to guard them from predators, from now on.

At least I have some of her eggs in the incubator right now... besides the two blues we just got from MPC (along with the "mystery" EE). I might even name the darker blue pullet after poor Sapphire, because we really like the name.
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What a terrible loss! So sorry. Glad you have Sapphire's eggs in the bator.
for a good hatch. I don't have any ideas about your predator. Good luck with fixing that problem.
The chickens were all giving me that look today... questioning me with their eyes about WHY I haven't been letting them come out and play.

I finally gave in and let them free range since we're home to keep an eye on them. My DH and I are actually in the process of putting up a new roost for them, so it's a good idea to give them something better to do, besides stick their beaks in our business while we work in the coop.
I just opened my coop and let my girls out and after recent losses I am always concerned. Your first loss sounds like a dog but your second loss sounds like a hawk. Where ther feathers picked off of the second one? Some times dogs tear flesh when they shake thier squeeky toy. How close were your dogs would they have carried on? Where they penned? Clearly "free ranging" isnt working at this time, if you keep them penned for a while the killer may move on. You can make up some of the differnce by dumping your freshly mowed grass clippings in the pen. Also great compost, great time to clean off the garden if your feeling guilty while you sove this. Short of a migrating hawk (you are in the area for this) it sounds like a dog. Keep us informed and keep you eyes open.
I am sorry for your loss. I know that you care for your birds as well, were counting on the new Roo.
I heard a sound that could have been a hawk today while I was out working in the yard (about late afternoon). The chickens were free ranging at the time, so I ran over to make sure they weren't in any danger... but nothing came close enough for me to see it.

I also watched our big dog, Kizzy, all day to see how she acted near the chickens and honestly, she seemed almost hesitant to approach them. I don't really blame her since our big orp rooster, Frost, is very intimidating. Even our little guy, Cobalt, has started "manning up" to protect the flock. He and Frost together make quite an impressive team! I just can't believe something was able to pick off Sapphire like that, with those two on the job.
Anyway, I've been keeping the small dogs penned up, as they were when the new rooster was killed.

The rooster looked like he was missing some back feathers, but the hen just seemed torn up, rather than plucked. I wondered if maybe something grabbed for him, but only got the feathers... and then maybe just the shock killed him. The hen was clawed or bitten, on her back. It seems like too much of a coincidence that their deaths were caused by two different culprits, in such a short time span. I think perhaps the roo was able to make it farther back away from the fenceline before dying, which may have prevented further carnage to his body. Sapphire was found close to the edge of the yard, where the predator may have felt safer about sticking around to finish the job.

I'm being very paranoid about letting the chickens out of my sight now, though. My DH and I even spent the day reinforcing the coop and run, just in case the critter comes calling for dinner!
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