Missing Chicken -- What do you think attacked it?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jugbandjames, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. jugbandjames

    jugbandjames New Egg

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    Dec 1, 2009
    I have three pet pullets, about 4.5 months old. I live in the woods but have a fully enclosed coop with the fence buried deeply into the ground. My chickens free range during the day and I put them up in their coop every night. They even return to the coop before it gets dark on their own. Last night, my girlfriend and I both had to work late. We each thought the other was going to be home to put the chickens up, but when I got home at 9:30 PM the coop was open and there were no chickens inside.

    I started looking around with the flashlight and calling for them, and one came running over from the woods. She was really freaked out and jumped up on my arm and didn't want to get off. I eventually got her in the coop and continued looking for the remaining two chickens. I searched all around for a couple of hours and eventually decided to give up when I found a couple piles of feathers, obviously torn from the chickens.

    In the morning, I found another chicken about a quarter of a mile from my house in the neighbors yard (much, much farther than they normally range). She seemed pretty rattled and was shivering, possibly from cold since it was around 30 degrees last night and there was frost on the ground. Between my house and where I found the second chicken, I found a giant pile of her feathers, but she appeared to be uninjured. Judging by the amount of feathers in the coup, they had been inside when they were attacked. In total, I found two piles of feathers that seem to belong to the missing chicken, and one pile of feathers that belongs to the chicken I found this morning (she's white and the still-missing-chicken is black). The pile belonging to the missing chicken were much closer to the coop, and judging by the trail of feathers, she may smacked into a wall trying to escape. I spent much of the day searching through the woods but have found no sign of the remaining chicken.

    The sun sets here about about 5PM and my neighbor said she heard some noises outside and her dog started going crazy (it's an indoor, tiny dog) around 8:30PM. It also rained until about 7PM and the feathers were completely dry when I found them, so it happened at least 2 hours after sunset. What sort of animal do you think this was? I've seen foxes and raccoons in our woods, but it seems too late in the evening to be a fox, and wouldn't a raccoon have left a body or body parts behind? When I was out searching that night, I heard some owls, and we have great horned owls in the area, but would they have entered the enclosed coop? What could have pulled off so many of my white chicken's feathers without causing damage? Also, since I found a pile of feathers from my white chicken and she was still alive, do you think the third chicken could be out there somewhere? What are some strategies for finding a lost chicken?

    Sorry if I seem a little frantic, but we spend a lot of time with our chickens. They're our pets. I feel terrible about leaving them exposed to predators, so I'd like to figure out what attacked them in case it tries to come back. And, obviously, we'll need to be more careful about closing the coop before it gets dark.
     
  2. Will they come to you when you call or shake the scratch cup?
    If it is dead then I would say a fox did it.

    Matthew
     
  3. jugbandjames

    jugbandjames New Egg

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    Dec 1, 2009
    Yes, they do come when I call. When I was searching for them, I was calling for them, and that's actually how I found the first one.
     
  4. Kennyog

    Kennyog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 7, 2009
    Oak Grove
    Fox.
     

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