My husband and I are totally at a loss. HELP!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by HannahSmith2013, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. HannahSmith2013

    HannahSmith2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2013
    Braselton,Ga
    Okay, my husband and I have had chickens for about a year now. And although we are in NO way experts, I would say that we have come along way and could hold a pretty substantial conversation with the best of them. We had about 30 chickens up until June. We have had all different types of breeds. We downsized recently because of a new baby and just didn't have the time for all 30 of them. We kept our barred rock rooster and three tetra tint hens which are housed in our HUGE pen and LARGE coop with 6 nesting boxes. We've had them since they were hatched. We also have our Silver Duckwing Bantam pair that just hatched 5 chicks of their own. (<3 them) Anyway, they are all pets to us and they all have names.

    In our time of owning, we have had ONE experience with a predator where something was KILLED. In March, we went out in the morning to feed and water and collect eggs to find that our bantam rooster, Monte had been killed/taken. He was in our chicken tractor that we built. After looking at the pen, we noticed that the chicken wire had been pulled from the frame of the pen on ALL four sides and that's, undoubtedly, how whatever it was got in the pen and got him. There were feathers EVERYWHERE. After being sad, we moved on to feed our two rabbits (my daughters birthday gifts) and found the pen turned completely over on its side and both rabbits were gone. All that was left was fur. This pen sat about 4ft off the ground and stood about 6ft tall all together. We noticed that the rabbit wire had been pulled/bitten from the bottom and the back of the pen (the side that was against the wall before flipped on its side) rabbit wire was completely ripped off. We do have coyotes VERY close to our home. A cow pasture is what lines the back of our 3 acres. We just chalked it up as that, a pack of coyotes.

    Now, Friday morning, my husband was leaving for work (around 7am). He was walking out to his truck and one of our hens (Reba) ran right up to him. He went into a panic and ran out to the chicken pen. Although ALL 4 of the chickens seemed okay physically, one of our hens (Daisy) had a scratched up face and they all seemed on edge. After looking at the coop, we noticed feathers EVERYWHERE. We fed and watered them while also walking the entire pen inside and out for any sign of something getting in. We didn't see anything. We didn't have any choice but to go about our business.

    Friday evening, my husband and I were gone ALL evening. We didn't get home until dark. We went out and checked on them as we were unloading the car. It was about 9:45pm and they were fine. We were heading to bed around 12:30am and my husband said he was going to check one more time. He calls me in a clear panic and said two of the hens were gone and that the last hen was under the coop and our rooster Luke was passing the back side of the pen with all his feather fluffed with blood all over his comb and neck (none of it was his). I went outside and we saw feathers EVERYWHERE. Out of the coop, down the coop ramp, in a diagonal pattern across the pen to the back left corner. Once Luke saw my husband, he completely relaxed. We moved him and the third hen. We searched for any signs of the other two hens and the chalked it up as whatever it was was successful this time and killed them.

    We went back inside, did some research and came to the conclusion that there was no way possible that a pack of coyotes did this without some sort of tracks or sign of them being there (it had rained that day and was muddy). We decided it had to be a fox and went to bed.

    Saturday morning (this morning), we went outside to asses the pen and coop in the daylight. We heard clucking and looked up and to our much welcoming surprise, our other two hens were in the tree and flew right down to us. They were both fine.

    So, my question is, what kind of fox attacks the same coop twice in one day but doesn't get a kill? And if it's not a fox, what the heck is it? How do we stop it? How do we protect our chickens?

    HELP US!
     
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Wow! That is rough! I'm wondering if you aren't dealing with a fox but perhaps a bobcat or raccoon or a family of them? They are tough and persistent. A fox will usually snatch a bird and head for the hills without a lot of evidence left behind. Here's what I would do: ditch the chicken wire and invest in hardware cloth (welded wire) with 1/2" squares. Chicken wire is a joke when a determined predator has chicken on his mind. Some folks even bury it a few inches underground to keep things from digging under. Secondly, I might set a live trap - bait it with a can of tuna. Maybe set up a game camera to see what you are dealing with. Gotta get this taken care of now that whatever it is has tasted chicken, he'll be back. Good luck to you!
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013
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  3. countrygoddess

    countrygoddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm so sorry to hear of your awful losses!! How sad and frustrating. =(

    If the wire is being pulled off, then I'm thinking dexterity. And that makes me think of raccoons. Fox generally won't leave behind a huge mess of feathers because they grab and run, although if they get into an excited frenzy in with chickens in the henhouse freaking out then there can be quite a mess and many dead chickens (I would think that would be a young fox. Female fox with kits want only to get one chicken and get it to her babies).

    Raccoons are much messier, although they tend to leave behind more than just feathers. Weasels are, too, but aren't strong enough to tear wire off of wooden frames.

    If attacks are happening during the day, it could be hawks. They will attack on the ground, leaving feathers everywhere, and try to fly off with the chicken. Often, they will fly away after having injured many birds, but they will return to finish their meal. I've had experiences with hawks and ravens. My 9 year old son went out to the chicken house to get eggs and as he approached, he saw a hawk fly out. In the corner was a cowering hen with her back so torn up that lung tissue was exposed. Her feathers were all over the yard as the hawk grabbed and grabbed and grabbed at her as she ran into the house. Ravens have killed two of my bantams and steal eggs.

    All the years that we've had chickens, we've had an electric poultry net fence from Premier 1 around the chicken house/yard. In that time, we've lost 3 chickens to airborne predators while our neighbors have lost entire flocks to coyote, fox, fisher, weasel... you name it. I HIGHLY recommend that fencing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013
  4. HannahSmith2013

    HannahSmith2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2013
    Braselton,Ga
    Yeah. We are so confused on what it might be it's ridiculous. The feather pattern last night almost looked like the chicken was being dragged but then when we found them, not one of them was hurt. Nothing on them. Luke, our rooster, had blood on him but it wasn't his because he doesn't have a scratch or a bite mark. I just figured that if it was an animal like that, it would have surely killed one by now. We actually have the heavy duty wire on our big pen and after the first attack in March we double fenced in the chicken tractor. I have no idea what it but whatever it is, it sure did cause a frenzy.
     
  5. HannahSmith2013

    HannahSmith2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2013
    Braselton,Ga
    Another thing, our chicken tractor would so much easier access with smaller birds but hasn't even been messed with. I just don't get it. There is no sign of anything digging or climbing. Our nesting boxed in the coop stick out on the side. Trees cover the area that our pen is in. I was wondering if a fox would jump on the nesting boxes, onto the top of the coop and then in the pen. This pen is huge and we don't have fencing over the top of it. BUT, the fencing around it is heavy duty and easily over 6ft tall.
     
  6. countrygoddess

    countrygoddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm still thinking raccoons. I agree with the person who mentioned getting a game camera--knowing what you're dealing with can make preventing future attacks so much easier. Also, I really would seriously consider getting electric netting.
     
  7. dwalters

    dwalters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 23, 2013
    Southern Michigan
    Sorry a little off topic but it sounds like you have a great protector in your roo. I had a BR roo that took on a racoon, a hawk, and the neighbors dog. I just lost him this spring after five years. There's just something about those guys. They love their hens. Your attacks are making me think racoon also. Or very smart dog.
     
  8. HannahSmith2013

    HannahSmith2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2013
    Braselton,Ga
    Definitely going to consider the possibility of raccoons. We've had them get into our trash recently.
     
  9. 10xmama

    10xmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So your coop has a roof right... But it opens to a pen/run? Do you close up your coop at night so the chickens are completely enclosed in the coop?

    We have LOTS of predators on our property. We used hardware cloth along the bottom half of our run and then chicken wire on the top half. We actually poured a concrete barrier/footings to keep things from digging into our run. Our coop and run both have roofs. Our coop has an automatic door that shuts at sunset and opens at sunrise. Closing them up at night keeps the night hunters away.

    I am so sorry for your loss and hope you find a solution quickly.
     
  10. countrygoddess

    countrygoddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    "Definitely going to consider the possibility of raccoons. We've had them get into our trash recently."


    Ah, yes. I'd bet money on it...
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013

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