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Need Help Figuring Out What Happened in our Coop

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by inky123, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. inky123

    inky123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 16, 2010
    My husband and I have had a small flock (about 25-30) of Bantams for 2 years now. The Bantams are allowed to free range during the day and generally spend their days happily pecking around the backyard and in between the haybales at the edge of our yard with an occasional trip up to our deck to mooch treats. At night, they always return to the coop and the automatic door goes down shortly before dusk (we set the time based on the chicken's habits).

    This morning I went out to check for eggs and the entire coop was empty. It was obvious that something was awry. There were quite a few feathers on the floor, but no chickens or eggs to be found . After the initial panic, we managed to find 6 of our roosters hiding in the hay bales, obviously very spooked. One rooster was missing his tail feathers. Upon further investigation, we found raccoon prints on the back side of the coop and a small place where it appeared the window screen had been pulled open.

    After looking all day, we have not managed to find any more of our chickens. There was no blood in the coop and we have not found a single body part inside or outside the hen-house. 18 chickens have simply vanished into thin air and we don't know what to think. Almost all the feathers in the coop were identical, so could one chicken have been grabbed and the others have gone into hiding? If so, how long would be a reasonable time to wait for them to show up before we give up hope? Surely a raccoon could not carry off 18 chickens and leave no blood spots, body parts, etc.

    An ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated. Our chickens are all pets and we are absolutely heartbroken over this. If it helps, we know that the automatic door did go down at the appropriate time last night and the "man door" was securely closed and bolted. The coop has a solid floor and the only entry point we could find was the small section of screen. Also, the 6 roosters we did find would not go back into the coop tonight, choosing instead to roost in trees in the backyard.

    Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
     
  2. 202roosterlane

    202roosterlane Happy Hen on a Harley

    Feb 24, 2011
    Central Arkansas
    OMGoodness! I am so sorry to hear about your chickens. I just can't imagine what could have happened to the others. They must have found an escape route. I am hoping they will find their way home SOON!
     
  3. inky123

    inky123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 16, 2010
    Thanks, Roosterlane. We are hoping that they are safely hiding somewhere and come back soon, too. It has been a terribly distressing day and the only positive note is that we have 4 hens that are currently mothering 23 newly hatched bantams, silkies and showgirls. It has been really hot outside, so a few days ago we took them from the coop and gave them each a big Rubbermaid storage tote nest inside our attached garage where they could be more comfortable and we could monitor the babies. Thank goodness we had moved them inside or I shudder to think what might have happened.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011
  4. Hot2Pot

    Hot2Pot Fox Hollow Rabbitry

    Feb 1, 2010
    West TN
    :hugsOh my, I am sorry for your losses. Hopefully many of your hens will come out of hiding. Maybe you had a whole raccoon family get into the coop. It never gets any easier , this business of losing chickens to predators. They come around here day and night. I can't let the chickens run around like I used to. I know they miss the freedom. We lost a whole tractor full to dogs that ripped apart the chicken wire . Lost at least three to hawks, two to vultures, countless to coons. The list never ends. Hope you find more of them.
     
  5. aubreynoramarie

    aubreynoramarie designated lawn flamingo

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    May 27, 2010
    Reno, Nevada
    [​IMG]
    I am so sorry you're going through this. I just had a raccoon attack in my showgirl coop as well. I only had three but I thought all were dead. We found our rooster injured and a ton of HIS feathers all over the yard. We found a small bit of his girls' feathers too. I assumed my roo was the only one who survived and even he was not doing so well.

    Well te next day one of his girls did come limping home!

    I say just wait and you will find that some will come wandering home. Make sure you search your property well for injured birds that are hiding. If we did not find our rooster I do not think he would have been able to make it to us on his own...


    Hang in there
     
  6. Tylt33

    Tylt33 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 13, 2010
    Chico, California
    Look high and low. Raccoons often travel in family units, so you could have had four or five raccoons in there. Get the trap out. We had a raccoon get one of our girls and we caught it carrying her away after killing her. If we hadn't heard her scream, it would have gotten the rest of our girls, they were all huddled and hiding. The guy who built our coop had the foresight to put hardware cloth over the screen windows, and I am soooo thankful for that, I never would have thought to do that.
     
  7. saddina

    saddina Internally Deranged

    May 2, 2009
    Desert, CA
    Give it a day to see who else comes home. Sadly there's a chance the racoon reached in, pulled them out one by one, but usually you'd see a mess of parts. go reenforce that window, and set a trap.
     
  8. inky123

    inky123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 16, 2010
    I am sad to report that no more chickens have come home, and that my husband found several remains and feathers this morning much further out into the hayfield. Apparently the raccoon just snitched them off the roost as they were sleeping through the tear he made in the corner of the window screen. The coon did return last night and try to get into the coop through the same spot, but was unsuccessful as we have added reinforcements to the window and also installed a window fan for air circulation as we enter the dog days of summer. Hopefully we will be successful in trapping and removing him (or them). Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments, concern and advice. All are greatly appreciated. I guess we will now start our flock again with the 6 roosters that survived, the 4 hens that were inside the garage and the 20 assorted babies that hatched last week. Hopefully there will be no more tragedies in the future, both for the sake of the chickens and our hearts. [​IMG]
     
  9. aubreynoramarie

    aubreynoramarie designated lawn flamingo

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    May 27, 2010
    Reno, Nevada
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Redcatcher

    Redcatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2010
    At My Desk!
    Your tragedy might help me with my predator problem since it sounds remarkably like what happened and is happening to my flock. I had been narrowing it down to either a fox, raccoon or skunk. Now I am thinking it is a raccoon. After this last attack on my flock, "only" three chickens were never accounted for, though initially the entire flock was missing...Hiding. Two were mauled...one badly enough so that he later died from wounds. The one that died hardly had a feather out of place, yet the surviving one had his tail completely chewed off. Feathers everywhere. I am still hoping to trap or catch it but it seems to only visit when I least expect it. I have never had an attack like this before in all the years I have been keeping chickens.
     

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