Multiple Chicken Deaths

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Farming Wife, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. Farming Wife

    Farming Wife Hatching

    Jun 27, 2016
    Carlisle, KY 40311
    [​IMG]Okay BYC, maybe you guys can help me out. My husband and I had around 40 hens and some roosters, about a month ago we went to the barn to let them out to free range (which we ALWAYS do) after we let them out we left and returned about an hour later to check on them, we try to check on them regularly while they forage during the day. As soon as we pulled into the farm drive we knew something was up, feathers were EVERYWHERE. We lost about 10-13 hens and are alpha rooster. After this incident we had nightly and early morning watches to try and kill whatever was harming our birds, we found nothing, no tracks or fur, nothing. After keeping the hens up for a week, I felt safe again and let them out and everything continued as normal.

    Well last week we moved our eight new pullets in with our large flock, we kept them in the pen for a few days as we usually do with new birds and then let them all out again. Everything went well until yesterday, we had been gone over the weekend to the lake and had a dear friend help us with the hens, he also raises chickens so he was the only guy I trust with my girls, Anyway when we returned Sunday afternoon all but one of our new pullets were dead.

    We're getting really discouraged since in our years doing this we've never had this happen. We have live traps set up currently and the girls are not allowed out till we catch whatever is harming them, we just cant afford to loose anymore. Please if you have any tips on catching whatever it is please leave a comment or message me, we are in great need here. Thanks everyone!

    PS: If this helps identify what killed the birds this is what we found: The dead birds we did find were only half eaten, some had their heads removed and others did not. All that was left behind mostly were just feathers, there wasn't even that much blood splatter.

  2. Farming Wife

    Farming Wife Hatching

    Jun 27, 2016
    Carlisle, KY 40311
    We really can't afford a trail camera, though my husband and I have discussed it.. I feel so awful leaving them cooped up, its no way for them to live.. Though I will probably have to do so until this 'Chicken Killer' is dead or caught.. Thanks though
  3. This is hard, without actually being on site and looking for sign...the trail com is actually an awesome option. Lock the girls up, setup the cam and wait and see what's poking around and trying to get in.

    Originally I was thinking neighborhood dog(s). But when you posted, "partially eaten"...that could be a raccoon, or several.

    But nothing in your cage trap?

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
  4. Here's a post from My Coop Project thread:

    Protecting the Flock

    I know that I have posted about using cage traps to catch predators, but for the life of me...I cannot find it. So here it is again.


    I live in town. This is what I use to catch any culprits that might want to make a meal out of my chickens. The trap opening is 13 inches X 13 inches, and 36 inches in length. Once the predator steps on the treadle, the door closes and your predator problems are solved. Any one that keeps chickens should have at least a pair of these for quick use when predators stalk our birds. These traps are solid, well built and will last you for many years.

    Stay away from the Havahart brand traps, unless you're after squirrels, Havaharts are cheaply made and use sheet metal, the springs that lock the trap are weak. I've had animals push out of a Havahart Trap. If a predator forces out of a Havahart trap once, the trap is ruined.

    For most predators bait it with a tin of soft cat food food and set it each night. One time I had a squirrel problem, so I baited it with a mix of peanuts and corn, caught a lot of birds, but after a few days no squirrels. You will probably not want to leave it set during the day, all you'll catch is a bunch of chickens; trust me.

    You'll need to stake it so it cannot be turned over, if the trap rolls over the washers will slide and the trap door will open. If the predator escapes, they just got a free education as to what to avoid in the future.

    It works great for squirrels, weasels, mink, feral cats, small dogs, dumb foxes with a lower I.Q., and raccoons; basically most of the animals that want to make a meal out of our birds.

    For cautious predators like foxes, the trap has to be perfectly bedded, no wobble at all or a fox will not enter the trap. The trap needs to be well weathered, just leave them outside and nature will do a great job. When handling the trap, always wear gloves, try not to touch the trap with bare hands.

    Cautious predators are very challenging to stop from killing chickens.

    Most foxes that become chicken killers are the young of the year that are just learning to hunt and provide for themselves. Chickens are an easy prey item for young foxes...

    Here Is my recipe:
    1 tin of sardines
    2 cups of vegetable oil

    Mix the sardines and vegetable oil in a blender until puraid completely. Then in a 5 gallon bucket mix the slurry thoroughly with about 10 pounds of dry dog food.

    This makes a very good bait for most any predator that feeds on chickens.

    If you are having trouble catching the predator that is being overly cautious, and there are no malfunctions of the trap itself, wire the trap open so that it cannot trigger and let the target animal hit the trap each night for about a week. Check the trap each day to ensure that the predator is visiting the cage trap, re-bait as needed.

    After week, remove the wire and ensure that the trap is properly set. If the predator is hitting the trap regularly, you should have your chicken killer the next morning.

    This approach works great for even those very cautious predators like foxes.

  5. did you look at the link? it tells you how to tell what killed your birds
  6. keesmom

    keesmom Crowing

    Jul 28, 2008
    I've had 2 daytime mass losses. Once to a fox, the other time to coyotes. Either one could be your culprit. Another possibility is dogs if any run loose near you.

  7. When I first read the post, I was thinking dogs as well...or a fox or coyote. Some type of canine....
  8. How are things going?

  9. Farming Wife

    Farming Wife Hatching

    Jun 27, 2016
    Carlisle, KY 40311
    Thanks everyone for the helpful information! We used some different bait in our trap and caught our culprit... Mama coon and two babies, we "disposed" of them and everything is going well again, my ladies are very happy to be back out again. Also, with so many loses we've decided to order more chicks this fall so we'll be full functioning this Spring!

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