One pullet missing without a trace, rooster killed and buried?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by cloverhillsfarm, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. cloverhillsfarm

    cloverhillsfarm In the Brooder

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    Feb 17, 2018
    So something attacked our little flock that was free ranging today, sometime around 10am I think (full daylight for at least 2 hours). One of our hens just disappeared without a trace. She was maybe 4-5 lbs at most. I haven't found a single feather that belonged to her. Our rooster, who was a very large golden laced wyandotte (8+lbs), was also attacked. He apparently fought back. The yard was littered with his feathers in 3 places, all very close to our house (like 3-10 ft away). There were some down type feathers from either his belly or rump, and some neck feathers. I followed a trail of feathers into the woods that surround our house and found him, deceased, about 20ft into the woods, buried under a pile of leaves. He had puncture and bite wounds around his neck and chest. I am assuming it was a pair of animals that attacked them, but obviously I don't know this for sure. We are in central virginia with lots of woods around us, so I guess any predator is fair game. Anyone know of a predator that would leave one carcass buried while taking the other one away without a trace? It had not been eaten at all, just killed, and it was totally covered. Very strange. I can't say I'm happy to know that the predator was literally at my back door. The remaining girls are, unfortunately, confined to their electrified, fenced in pasture from now on. I hate it, because they love free ranging, but today has convinced me that they need more protection.
     
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  2. Trish1974

    Trish1974 Araucana enthusiast

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    I am so sorry for your loss. Foxes will kill and stash/bury all day long. Not sure if coyotes bury their kill but that could be another possibility.
     
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  3. Had a feral cat do this, twice. We knew it was the cat because we watched her come back to the carcass, which was lightly buried, with part of a wing sticking out, to feed the next day. We relocated the cat and got a higher type of electric net which seemed to solve the problem.
     
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  4. penny1960

    penny1960 Going back to La La Land

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    might help for you to tell us where you live we could know more of who did this that way?????
    Welcome to Backyard Chickens awful hard way to start
     
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  5. cloverhillsfarm

    cloverhillsfarm In the Brooder

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    Feb 17, 2018
    Thank you for your sympathy. It was a sad day, but one hen who was missing at first showed up about 2 hours later, so we went from totally crushed to really happy she survived. Foxes or coyotes were our best bet too. I know we have red foxes, gray foxes, and eastern coyotes in the area. The little hen would have been easy pickings for any of them. She was very sweet but not always great at staying with the rest of the flock. I just can't believe a fox could kill our rooster. He was huge- at least 2.5 ft tall and over 8 lbs, but he apparently put up a good fight. However, I think a coyote (we have very large ones here) wouldn't have had any trouble taking the rooster back to his/her den, so I am leaning toward a pair of foxes as the culprit, not that we will ever know for sure.
     
  6. cloverhillsfarm

    cloverhillsfarm In the Brooder

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    Feb 17, 2018
    yikes- a cat?? Luckily we don't have any that I know of in the area. Our 3 dogs and the other wildlife in the area seem to keep them away
     
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  7. Howard E

    Howard E Crowing

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    Cats of all sizes are an option, and that includes bobcats, lynx, etc. As we found out last winter with a member's video, these cats will kill more than one bird. They bury the extras in litter and leaves for later. That is one of their signature moves.

    If you are willing to believe a fox or coyote got past your dogs or other defenses, know that a bobcat or similar could too.
     
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  8. Peppercorngal

    Peppercorngal Songster

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    I'm so sorry you lost your rooster, but I'm so happy your hen made it home safe. It's truly devastating to loose one of the flock. We had problems with coyotes trying to rush in from the woods and grab our hens while free ranging. I sell eggs and while some customers were there they actually saw this happen! We had to invest in some 4 foot high fence and fenced a 50x50 foot area for them to free range and be safe from dogs, coyotes and such during the day. Foxes and coyotes will not try to jump or dig under fences during the day so it worked great. Costs some money, but worth the safety! Good luck with whatever solution you decide. I couldn't bear to not free range, they get so many benefits from it and are much happier! Welcome here! :)
     
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  9. cloverhillsfarm

    cloverhillsfarm In the Brooder

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    Feb 17, 2018
    I had never really thought about wild cats, simply because we've never seen any, but I guess you don't really see them. I'm sure we have bobcats in the area and hunters report mountain lions from time to time, though "official" reports say there are no mountain lions in central virginia. I also thought they were typically nocturnal hunters, though in the spring when predators have hungry babies to feed, I guess the normal rules don't apply. Electric netting and more electric netting is my solution!
     
  10. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

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    Wait, so let me get this clear. The only casualty was the rooster and he was buried but his carcass only had wounds, nothing was eaten?

    This seems strange to me. Why would an animal cache its only kill without eating it? If it had cached the first and gone back to try for a second, why would it not return to eat the first if it had not been successful taking a second?
     
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