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Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by daddycool, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. daddycool

    daddycool New Egg

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    Feb 17, 2012
    Hi everybody. I'm new to the forum andI have a couple of questions if anybody can answer them.

    Yesterday we had 3 hens. And now we have only one. We've been raising chickens for almost 2 years now and we live in Portland, Oregon.

    I'm not sure what predator got them. There was a possum in the coop one night about a month ago. he was looking for eggs but it was January so he was out of luck. I just opened everything up so he could skulk away. The girls just got on their outside perch & ignored him eventually and he snuck out. They just started laying again which may have attracted the possum, but the 2 eggs in the nestbox were untouched.

    The 2 hens that died were attacked at the neck. all the feathers were removed and the necks & throats were just a bare bloody mess. One of them had also been eaten on her side (ribcage & belly) and had a lot of her yellow & white chicken fat munched on. There were feathers everywhere and the chicken who was eaten appeared to be kind of flattened. The 2nd victim was still alive somehow, but her neck and throat were sliced to ribbons. I had to help her "cross over" to the spirit world. (Poor Girl. She was everybody's favorite too.) No other injuries that I could see. I think she fought the predator tooth & nail.

    There's a gang of feral cats around, but I've only seen one of them inside the run one time. It was like he fell off the fence and he was scrambling for his life to get out of there. My feeling is that 3 angry hens are just too much for a cat to handle.There were 4 cats hanging around outside this morning and feathers all over the run so I knew something was wrong. But not one of those cats had the nerve to go into the run. It's too hard for them to get back out. I think they just smelled the blood and were hanging out. Unless there's some kind of a serial killer cat amongst them, I don't think they would cause all that death & destruction and then stay around to watch the authorities (me) conduct an investigation.

    We have a covered and (almost) fully enclosed run in a corner of our yard. There's about an 18 inch opening between the roof and the top of the fence ... which as of today is covered with poultry wire. That was really the only way in and out of the crime scene besides the door.

    Here are my questions:

    Any ideas about what killed them? Possum? Cat? Owl? Raccoon? One of these 4 are most likely the culprit.

    Any advice on the best way to put a hen out of her misery in a situation like this? I took pity on my favorite hen so she would stop suffering. But it was ugly. There's has to be a "good" way to quickly & humanely kill a chicken.

    There's one barred rock hen still alive. She came out relatively unscathed. But she's alone now. Is she in greater danger because she's alone? Can a hen do OK on her own like this for a month or 2 until we can introduce some new pullets? What kind of behavior should we expect from this frightened hen who had to witness a murder and a mercy killing of her coop mates?

    Any guidance that anyone can give me about any of this would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.
     
  2. Blarneyeggs

    Blarneyeggs Overrun With Chickens

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    sorry about your losses, my guess would be raccoon. My first impulse would be to immediately get your Barred Rock a companion, but I talked to someone today who has onlyone chicken, so it is possible.

    Sounds like you're making some great moves getting your run predator proof, have you considered a roo? He'll protect your girls, warn of danger and usually sacrifice themselves for their girls
     
  3. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't answer as to what killed the two. I've not had one killed as of yet. But they do not like to be alone. She had 2 "sister" now she don't. That in itself can be traumatic on the one left. I had a RIR some years ago that was by herself. Well, her and a Old English sheepdog. I do think she thought she was a dog. She and that dog had more fun. But without the dog I would have been lonely for her.

    If a hen is to injured to survive I would say put her on a stump and crop the head off. That ends it. Not pretty or easy but final.

    I really sorry for your bad luck. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  4. citychickx6

    citychickx6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First let me say Welcome to BYC.

    I am so sorry you have lost hens. The gap in the roofing you describe was large enough to let many critters in.
    I would suggest you add some much stronger wire everywhere that you have chicken wire. It is misleading. Chicken wire will only keep your hens in it will not stop a predator. Raccoons can and do bite right through it.

    I have experienced a raccoon attack with ducks many years ago and what you describe as the injuries could be a raccoon or a skunk. Foxes in my experience are more of a meal on the run predator. Grab-n-go so to speak.
    Whatever it was will be back most certainly.
    It is worth the time and effort to beef up all your fencing and check for any weakness. Remember that foxes, skunks and raccoons will dig under as well.

    I think your hen may be rather flighty and scared without others with her. Can you move her into the garage in a rabbit hutch or other cage while you work on the fencing?
    It is sad you had to help the other hen pass.
    My thoughts are with you and I will keep hoping for the best for your barred rock.
     
  5. daddycool

    daddycool New Egg

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    Feb 17, 2012
    Thanks for the reply.

    Yes our outfit was pretty well predator proofed except for the one small area.
    And unfortunately because of that .. our girls paid the price.
    I know that it's virtually impossible to 100% safeguard the run. But now that I've covered the small opening at the top of the fence today, ours is pretty darn secure. Amazingly, the possum and the murderer are the only intruders we've had in 2 years as far as I know. (Unless you count that retarded feral cat who couldn't get out of it's own way.) The weird thing is that both intruders happened AFTER we made improvements and put a solid roof over the run this summer. Go figure? As I said before, I don't consider the cats to be much of a threat to a group of fully grown hens. The cats always seemed kind of leary of them. They seemed dumbfounded, frightened and fascinated by the hens.The cats are only a year old. They grew up around here with these chickens and a few neighbors chickens always nearby and I think they just liked to watch the birds. But eat them ??? ... Not so much. Am I wrong to assume that?


    We live inside the city limits where roosters are prohibited. (unless you know a way to silence a rooster)
    Without a permit from the city we are only supposed to have 3 hens also but can probably get away with 4.
    I know a few people who have 4 & 5 hens without any permit and without any law enforcement problems.


    I would get some companions for the remaining hen right away, but it's Feb.
    We raised these birds from chicks last time. They were hatched in March of 2010.
    We are thinking about getting some pullets that are ready to be outdoors this time rather than going through the whole baby chick routine again. But we haven't exactly made up our minds. If we do opt for the more mature birds, I think we might have to wait. I'm not sure if there are more mature birds readily available in Feb. I was under the impression that most chicks aren't hatched until Feb. March or April. But I could be wrong. I don't have a lot of experience so that's something I'll have to research.

    Thank again for taking the time to reply.
     
  6. daddycool

    daddycool New Egg

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    Feb 17, 2012
    Thanks for the reply and the advice.


    What I have used to enclose the whole run is really strong green wire fencing. It's almost like rubber or plastic coated heavy gauge wire and it's formed in graduated shapes of about 2 & 1/2 inch squares and 1 & 1/2 inch rectangles. I think the idea is that the side with the smaller rectangles is stronger and critters can't really reach too far through a 1 inch opening. And they definitely cant get their head through to attack. So that goes down at ground level. The other (high side) of the fencing has the bigger squares. Anyway ... it's big thick heavy duty fencing. Not chicken wire.

    When I said poultry wire ... it was kind of misleading.
    Poultry wire is I think just what they called it at my local home depot. It's what my neigbor called it too.
    Now since we're talking about home depot, and neighbors .... just how accurate can we expect them to be ?? haha

    I'll try to find an image or a link and post it so you can see what kind of fencing I'm talking about.
    My description is kind of confusing.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.
     
  7. daddycool

    daddycool New Egg

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    Feb 17, 2012
  8. daddycool

    daddycool New Egg

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    Feb 17, 2012
    I have it rolled out across several 4x4 posts set in concrete.

    I have it layered 3 high and overlapping. It goes up to within about3 inches of the roof overhang. 7 feet high.
     
  9. citychickx6

    citychickx6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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  10. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

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    I would set a live trap.Bring the hen inside in a pet cage,or atleast in the garage. I` killed one hen by chopping her head off.Super fast and not as hard to do as I thought it would be.Keep your trap set. I caught a lot over the summer.Nothing lately,but I still set it.1089 from home depot for $45.
     

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