Missing chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by tegaan1, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. tegaan1

    tegaan1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    I had 3 black and white hens go missing. We have red and black ones too. I am wondering if anyone has any ideas on what could have gotten them? These are the mean feisty hens, we have a slow, fat meat hen and one with a gimpy toe and friendly easy going ones. There was no evidence of a predator....they are just gone. We are also missing a chick. I am very sad and worried.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks
     
  2. laceynoelle

    laceynoelle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2009
    Reno
    Are they penned? If so, it could have been an aerial predator, ie hawk/eagle. The white plumage would be easier to see, too. If not it could have been a dog, cat, fox, coyote, or a bunch of other things. They also could have wandered off if you haven't had them for long. A raccoon can commonly get your chickens even if they are in a coop. What kind of set up do you have, first off?
     
  3. maxdecphoenix

    maxdecphoenix Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 25, 2013
    This happened to me with a duck. I have a little A-frame hutch with 4 removable doors on the end. One evening, one of the top doors didn't get placed back, and the next morning I was missing a Mallard. There were no tracks, no loose feathers, no signs of digging or fighting. No upturned grass.It was as if a shadow just crept along and snatched it out of existence.

    I was distressed, I had already lost two chickens due to them being too brave for their own good. Now I'd lost my Mallard drake. I couldn't believe I didn't hear anything, their hutch was just outside the window, and the ducks, when enclosed, are rather vocal when I approach, but I'd heard no sounds.


    I have a few predators around being in South Miss, dogs, cats, coons, hawks, owls, armadillo, and even possums (yes, possums eat live meat. I've had the unfortunate experience of hearing and witnessing the aftermath of one getting hold of a nursing kitten.) While I'll never be 100% sure of what took it. I am 99% CERTAIN it was a raccoon. We've had subsequent attacks and sightings, but have managed to not loose any more birds, a feat in itself because the chickens refuse to sleep anywhere but in the branches of a Chinaberry tree.

    Coons are silent killers. Capable of dexterous climbing, resilience and remarkable intelligent. Do not underestimate their intelligence. I've walked out the back porch, seen them, then retreated into the house to observe them. I watched as it and it's babe attempted to claw open the lower doors, rather than dig under the mobile hutch. They have learned how to open the feed storage bin, but lack the strength to move the cinderblock I now place on top of it. They display almost no fear whatsoever of humans, and will literally continue trying, until you deliver a well placed kick. This is only a temporary measure though, they will retreat and return within minutes.

    If your birds were closed in, I would bet the farm it was raccoons, All the other predators simply lack the patience and intelligence to not leave behind readily identifiable evidence. Dogs attempt to dig or brute force assaults. And are prone to making plenty of noise during a hunt. Cats are most similar to coons, but domesticated felines lack the killing strength to take out a chicken quietly.

    The only reservation I have about saying it was a coon, is that more than 1 was taken, in my experience a moderately sized bird will feed a mother and babe, or a male. Coons are not pack hunters. You will almost certainly never see more than 2 or 3 together during a raid (this is almost certainly a mom with kits). Males will share areas, but will not form hunting parties. I have a feeling your chickens were attacked by a coon, they dispersed, and something else got the others. I have seen mine disperse, then went to look for them. They will hide anywhere they feel safe, and make no noise. I thought I had lost 1, but it returned the next morning.

    I suggest purchasing a bb/pellet or substantial caliber AIR rifle. Coons are nocturnal hunters, so I was prohibited in letting loose with the 12 gauge. I actually purchased an old pump action pellet rifle, and put it to good use that very night. Being that it's getting cold now, and vegetation is dying off, coons will be taking brazen risks to get food to keep fat on during winter. And using every minute from dusk til dawn to hunt.

    I'd say take the preventative measures of policing up all scraps/trays of food and keep all trash covered tightly. But the coon now knows where to find live bird. It WILL NOT forget. You'll have to spend the next few evenings being very observant from dusk til dawn and kill it. It will not quit otherwise.
     
  4. tegaan1

    tegaan1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    Our birds are free range and any fences we have are the standard size about 3 feet or so high....the jump or fly right over. Our birds go in a locked coop at night. We were home all day when they went missing. We have 2 roosters and they crow a lot. We did not hear anything unusual. We do have woods and a big field. We have had the chickens since spring and they are very good about coming back to roost. If it was only one missing I wouldn't wonder so much but 3 of the same kind (barred rock) and no trace of feathers or anything and at the same time in the daylight?

    Kari
     
  5. laceynoelle

    laceynoelle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2009
    Reno
    Do you think someone could have took them? I thought I had birds missing for weeks, until I noticed them in my neighbor's pen. I don't think it's very significant that all three were the same breed, because any breed could become prey. (Unless someone took your barred rocks)
    From what you described, I think it could have been a hawk, or a small family of them. This is the time of year, where I live anyway, that hawks are more of a problem. The hawk chicks are learning to hunt, and a family could easily take three chickens without a trace, especially if you have a wooded area nearby.
    During a hawk attack, the rooster will alert the hens once or twice, then after that, the flock is generally quiet and hiding from the predator(s). Hawks are patient birds and will wait for the chickens to come out unless you notice and chase them away. Usually they leave very few, if any feathers, preferring to fly away with their catch. Another telltale sign is if you see a hen without any skin/feathers on her neck. That happens sometimes when they chicken gets away, and it is very gruesome.
    That's the only daylight predator I can think of right now that could have taken them, other than a possible jerk neighbor. Dog's usually don't carry the birds away, their technique is more of a 'kill them all and leave the bodies' thing, and most other predators are nocturnal.
    Hope this helps a little. :]
     
  6. tegaan1

    tegaan1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    WE do have hawks around and I think that or a raven got the little one. But we were outside quite a bit that day and we did not see anything. We don't have many neighbors...our landlords above us and 1 across the street. Very mysterious.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Not really mysterious at all....free range chickens get eaten, often without any evidence and often after months of no problems.
     
  8. Mehjr10

    Mehjr10 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Fox will hit, carry off and stash and then will come back and hit again until he is done or is disturbed.
     
  9. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

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    We lost 7 chickens in 2 days a few years back. The only trace was one of my rooster's black tail feathers, and he was a huge boy! He went missing without a sound while I was outside. It was just dumb luck one day that I was outside and actually saw the critter - it was a fox. We built runs for the chickens, kept them in for a while, and the fox hasn't been back, even though we are back to free ranging. He either moved on or was shot by someone else.
     
  10. tegaan1

    tegaan1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    So yesterday we saw a coyote in the woods in our yard. We thought he got my favorite rooster, but 6 hours later the rooster showed up all wet, tired and injured. So we put him by himself under a heat lamp to recover. I got a better look at him this am and he is torn up a bit. The skin it torn in a few places and he might have a not too deep puncture on his body under his wing. Any suggestions on how to treat him? I pulled the feathers from the wounds and added garlic to his water. What else should I do?

    Thanks kari
     

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