Missing necks

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by toritori, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. toritori

    toritori Chirping

    May 2, 2011
    Saranac Inn, NY
    We have a bit of a mixed flock: one 4 yr old Silver Laced Wyandotte, then 3 Red-Sex LInk that we got as chicks in April, 1 White Silkie (who thinks she is one of the Red Sex-Links), and 2 black ones (not sure what they are) that we got in May. There were 3 three sex-links and 3 white silkies that were purchased at the time, but we have had racoon issues. We had not planned on the 4 black ones, but my daughter's 3rd grade class hatched them and no one else would take them. One black on was taken by a racoon, we are pretty sure, and then last week the one black that was a roo disappeared too.

    We have taken action against the racoons, new door and a pellet gun. But then yesterday happened....

    ****WARNING! GRAPHIC!!*****

    I went to let the chickens out, all jumped out like normal except for one black one. She was dead, her neck had been chewed down to the spine so that there was intact body...spine...and then head. The waterer was knocked over, oystershell dispenser torn off the wall and the feed container was apart. No damage to the door or anything like that.

    My husband cleaned it up, bless his heart, we changed the shavings and tucked everyone else back in last night. He even went out and checked on everybody at 10pm. A-ok.

    Then I went out this morning, and the other black one was dead. This time, the head was separated from the body and there was no neck what so ever. Other than neck feathers and few other feathers, the rest of the coop looked fine. I go the rest of the girls out and shut the door. ONce I had my stomach settled a couple hours later I went back and in the closed coop I found a small ermine. Maybe 8" long plus a 4" tail. He seemed tiny, but had taken the head and had it tucked in a corner.

    Ok...so other than a giant case of nausea and the overwhelming dread of explaining this to my very logical 9yr old who wants the "whys and wherefores" of everything, I am left with a few questions:

    1) Could this little ermine have killed the 2 black ones?
    2) Could this have been the other chickens?
    3) Is this happening because the black rooster is gone and now the black ones had no protector?
    4) What animal would take just the necks? Or did they die of something and then the chickens just took the opportunity?
    5) What questions should I be asking?

    We free range our chickens and I know that things happen. They lead a fabulous life in the sun and plants with our dog protecting them. I know that occasionally we will have losses due to that. That is a calculated risk that we take. However, losing them overnight in a closed coop is just heart breaking. That is supposed to be their safe place. If any one has any advice I would be greatly appreciative.

  2. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    I think the answer to your question is YES, an ermine (weasel) can kill all those. The solution in the short run is to trap that one. The quick solution is to use a rat trap baited with chicken parts........liver would be the best. Google "weasel rat trap".

    Longer term solution is to beef up security and that means no holes in the coop larger than 1/2". So half inch hardware cloth over the openings and that means all of them.

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