mystery of the missing chickens.

borristherat

In the Brooder
8 Years
Sep 9, 2011
18
0
22
i am fairly new but enthusiastic about keeping a few hens and am looking for input from a more experianced keeper. i will ramble out the whole story so people can make an informed decision.

firstly we are in the uk. the disapearing hens are fully grown large fowl (barnvelders)

about this time last year we got 6 hens they roamed free over our land (about 10 acres) during the day and are locked in a shed (4x8) at night. this worked well untill two months ago when 1 hen every 2/3 days disappeared during the day. so i built a pen (40x60) that is 6 feet high 1 inch galv steel mesh and is buried 2 feet in the ground. then got some new hens to have a total of 6 again, letting them in the pen by day and in the shed at night and still they are disappearing at the rate of 1 every 2/3 days from inside the pen during the day. no trace of feathers or anything just 1 missing hen, the remaining hens seem very nervous. no signs of digging, no holes, no sign of anything.

further to this we have 4 dogs that wonder about the area as they please (whole boundry is dog proof) that i thought would discourage any predators, the dogs are all working dogs and i am 100% sure they are not responable.

so anybody have a clue what this could be?

my greatest thanks in advance for any help.
 
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borristherat

In the Brooder
8 Years
Sep 9, 2011
18
0
22
top is not covered as i didnt think any bird in the uk would carry off an adult barnvelder, smallest hen is about 5lbs surely this is a bit big for a buzzard? and the pen is only 20 feet from the house.
i will be covering the top today but would like to solve the problem rather than prevent it as at some point i would like the hens to roam free again as they enjoy it so much.
i am well armed (for an englishman) and would be prepared to "eliminate the problem" if i could identify it and it was legal.
 

Wisher1000

Bama Biddy
9 Years
Mar 31, 2010
7,707
1,235
396
Tuscaloosa County, Alabama
Hawk? Eagle? Coon? Opposum? I don't know what varmits you have in the UK. I think its time for a top or roof on your pen. In an attempt to discover the culprit, maybe try a game camera or a live trap...
 
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brownysfp

Songster
9 Years
Dec 1, 2010
132
1
101
Correze, France
I've lost chickens to buzzards with not a trace left behind, except in one which I reckon was disturbed in the act. My first thought was human but with the dogs and the fence it's a hell of an effort for one hen at a time. There are long-running rumours of chicken-rustlers where I am but nothing's happened - yet. Good luck with finding a solution.
 

nzpouter

Songster
11 Years
Jan 19, 2009
3,228
86
233
new zealand
Quote:so are my dogs... well other people's cats anyway... but they still miss the odd one.. and a cat can carry a grown hen, we're having a problem with a feral now, loss 5 pekin and an orpington in the last 5 weeks, usually taken just out of our property and eaten under a shelter tree....

so maybe, a patrol around your boundary could be fruitful...
 

borristherat

In the Brooder
8 Years
Sep 9, 2011
18
0
22
thanks for all the replies. if its a buzzard then i guess keeping them in the run and whacking a roof on it is the only solution.

as for rustlers then do you think a .223 will solve the problem or would a shotgun be a better bet? (for those without a sense of humour this last bit is a joke)
 

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