Missing Chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Wafflevixen, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. Wafflevixen

    Wafflevixen Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 8, 2014
    Hello everyone. New to the site. Wish it were under better circumstances.

    I've been trying for about two years now to raise Salmon Faverolles. I've always run into problems every single time. First it was a raccoon, then a bad batch of chicks from the hatchery, and now this.

    I had three 7+ week old chickens that I just moved out of the brooder into a larger pen. Two standards (brother/sister) and a bantam frizzle hen with a bad limp.

    Anyway I checked on them every hour that first day to make certain they were adjusting. They seemed fine. I went in the house at 4:00 PM and came back out at 6:00 PM to lock them in the coop. My standard hen was gone. Vanished. No feathers, no blood, nothing. I keep wings clipped, so she couldn't have flown out. I was frustrated, but vainly hoped she might show up in the morning.

    Well, she didn't. I let the rooster and the frizzle girl out in the morning and watched them closely. I left the house for about 30 mins to feed the donkeys around 11 AM. When I came back, my rooster was gone. Again, no feathers or blood or anything. I'm scratching my head trying to figure this one out. I have taken the frizzle girl out and put her back in the brooder for now.

    Any ideas? I read that rats could take smaller chickens without leaving a trace, but there's no where one might live. I even had my husband lift up the coop so I could check under it for inhabitants. Previous predators have always left some sort of trace. I've never seen anything like this.
     
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Hi and welcome -sorry it is under such circumstances that you have joined us.

    Can you describe or, better still post photos of, your enclosure? Knowing what the setting is can help to identify potential predators that can overcome barriers one might consider to be safe.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  3. Wafflevixen

    Wafflevixen Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 8, 2014
    It's about a 10x20 run I would guess. 5ft tall metal mesh fencing.

    A raccoon climbed over the fence in the past, but we could immediately tell it had been there by the mess it made.
     
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    So the top is open? What sort of "mesh" (anything larger than 1/2 inch hardware cloth is easily circumvented by pretty much all common predators - and can be passed over, under and through with no signs)? Is the wire simply sitting flush with the ground, buried beneath the surface or secured to a perimeter board? At this point I would keep the list of potential suspects fairly wide open - including aerial predators. Many of the common predators can kill and remove a bird leaving little to no sign that they were there.
     
  5. Wafflevixen

    Wafflevixen Out Of The Brooder

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    Well none of my adult chickens have had problems with this predator until now. This morning my last rooster was taken. There's sign this time though. A small trail of feathers leading around the coop, then a huge pile of feathers in one neat stack. It looks like whatever it was plucked nearly every feather off of him. No body or pieces or anything. A few drops of blood on the feathers. Checked on the chickens at 8 AM and at 9 AM the feathers were there with the rooster missing. Going to do some critter proofing today to keep my hens safe. Doesn't look like I'll have any chicks this spring though. All these hens and no roosters.
     
  6. guybyars

    guybyars New Egg

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    Birds missing without a trace usually means a fox.

    Webcams are now fairly inexpensive and might shed some light on who the perpetrator is.
     
  7. Wafflevixen

    Wafflevixen Out Of The Brooder

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    It's a hawk! Just saw it fly out of my pen. Thankfully got all of the rest of my chickens locked up. Once I get the netting up that I bought they should be safe.
     
  8. FarmerWife

    FarmerWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I HATE hawks. I don't like to keep my chickens locked in the coop, they hate it, and I don't blame them. They're used to being out in the yard. I have to keep a good watch, because lately they've been coming around, we nearly lost one of our Buff Orpington hens the other day, it barely missed her before she managed to dive under a huge rose bush. We keep plenty of large bushes for them to take cover under. Thorny one's. Mean as it sounds, I'm glad when they accidentally fly into the thorny rose bushes and get poked. So far no losses this year, but last year we lost a couple of hens. We tried scarecrows, didn't work for very long, even though we kept changing the locations. What I do now is try to change the times I have them out. Seems to me there are certain times of the day when they're more active around here, so I try to keep them locked up until at least early afternoon. I throw a lot of scratch and treats for them under the bushes so they stay there a lot. At night we put them in the coop (chicken bunker) it's built like a fort, to keep predators out. We have coyotes, skunks, mountain lions, and skunks here in our area. Mountain lions not as frequently as the rest. Not to mention dogs, some people here don't keep their dogs in their own yards, and the come around at night looking for a chicken to eat. As for the hawks, I wish it weren't illegal to shoot them. Keep your coop covered from the top, we had ours built with sheet metal for the bottom and top, the bottom half is sheet metal, about three feet tall all around, then thick wire around the rest so they can see from their perches and have fresh air. Nothing has ever gotten in, knock on wood. Owls will also take them in the night if you don't cover them.

    Dianna
     
  9. WthrLady

    WthrLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chicken miss being free range all day. I take them on field trips when the weather is tolerable, 20' or higher- my comfort not theirs.

    They mope when the miss a day, but I can't emotionally afford to loose another.
     
  10. Wafflevixen

    Wafflevixen Out Of The Brooder

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    Well haven't had any more losses since we worked on the pen. Though I still see the hawk almost everyday. Once I saw a murder harassing him, maybe they'll run him off! My girls had to stay in the coop for a while, with only supervised time in the yard multiple times each day. Our coop has sheet metal on the top and several latches on the door. I lost my first batch of chicks to a raccoon who could open latches. He took all seven of them in one night. It's been rough trying to raise chickens in my area. I'm picking up two replacement roosters on Sunday though! I probably won't be able to hatch any babies until next summer, but that's better than no babies at all.
     

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