Our first loss...any advice appreciated

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by sezjasper, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2012
    Eldersburg, Maryland
    We lost our first chicken today to a predator...our BR...not quite one year old. Beyond the shock and grief I'm trying to figure out what happened so hopefully I can take steps to keep our other hens safe. We live in a neighborhood...houses close together, small yards, I've never seen anything in our yard larger than a squirrel. There is a five foot wood privacy fence around the yard, and the girls free range during the day. I've pretty much ruled out any large predator such as a dog or fox because of the fence, because her body was not moved, and no other areas of her body were touched except her neck. So I'm thinking a hawk or something similar. I'm wondering if the injury she suffered sounds consistent with the type of damage a hawk can do...if I could at least narrow down what sort of predator we're facing, I could better decide what to do to protect our girls. I'd be grateful for any thoughts or advice. We're heartsick over this...sweet Raven, you'll be missed.
  2. bj taylor

    bj taylor Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 28, 2011
    North Central Texas
    sure sorry about your rir. it's so awful when we lose these chickens. i'm going to guess Not hawk. the one hawk attack i had, there were feathers everywhere as if it hit the bird in a blitz attack. also, i would think the hawk would have eaten some out of the breast if no one was around at the time.
    what about a weasel type animal. could get through the fence & they're incredibly predatory.
    again, sorry for your loss
  3. mammat

    mammat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2009
    columbus ohio
    Maybe a cat? They just kill and dont eat them. Sorry:(
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Regardless of what you hear on the Disney Channel hawks are poor hunters, well at least hawks are poor killers of something the size of most hens. Unless the hawk or maybe the victim lucks out, most hawk kills are the result of the victim being ate to death. The reason for feathers over a large area is that first the hawk captures the hen but only about 5% to 10% of the time does he make a clean or quick kill. So then your hen struggles and tries to escape the hawk's clutches but the hawk rides her around the yard while probing her innards with his talons in a vain attempt to make her stay still. All the time he is ripping feathers and down off her body so violently that it sounds like cloth ripping. Then as the now half naked hen struggles the hawk busies himself by pulling thin strips of living flesh off her body and swallowing them. This goes on until shock finally ends her suffering.

    Please keep your chickens where hawks can't eat them.
  5. BacktoBasicsGal

    BacktoBasicsGal Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 9, 2013
    Sorry for your loss; In my dealings with birds of prey, there is always feather evidence - while I haven't lost a chicken to one because we have covered the run areas, I have seen them take out mourning doves in our yard. It sounds to me more like a cat. Whatever it is, now they have 'tasted' blood so to speak, they will be back - you may want to reconsider free range unless you are in the yard with them....
  6. StannardCoop

    StannardCoop New Egg

    Mar 11, 2013
    Sorry to hear it Sezjasper.
    I lost my first chicken tonight too. Upsetting indeed. It was an hour before dusk, and when I was closing up the coop I found 2 hens in the coop, 1 hiding in the bamboo "wall" at the back of our property, and the other in the far corner at the base of the bamboo wall, kind of pulled to the corner. It looked like something had a bit of a snack, but by no means ate the whole bird. Lot's of feathers (sad) and 3 terrified girls.
    We're in a residential area too, but lots of racoons, cats, rats, birds, etc in the neighbourhood. Our neighbours free range their chickens all day, but we're going to have to figure something else out as this can't happen again. Maybe a tractor coop for the summer?
    Can anyone give any insite into what might of done this? I am beginning to think cat. Oh and the chickens are a week or so from their POL date, so big but not full grown.
    Thanks for the help!
  7. marvun22

    marvun22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2012
    North Dakota
    i would hate to imagine this but it could be either a weasel or very unlikely another chicken. with my chickens, when one chicken picks on another that's where its pecked. but when one chicken kills another im assuming it is pecked over time and then it eventually starts bleeding and the chickens would then peck at the open wound. i have to admit though, my chickens are not pecking at a chicken who has racoon ( definitely not your problem, they leave a bloody mess) damage. weasel sounds like my best guess.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Need better description of the wound, where when it happened, when it happened, coop and run construction.
  9. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    Well, Thanks for that graphic description. I sure that was a BIG help to the O.P. Been reading StephenKing lately?
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  10. StannardCoop

    StannardCoop New Egg

    Mar 11, 2013
    Re: aart
    We're in Victoria BC Canada, and the 4 girls were free ranging at the time. It's a big property with the coop way at the back. Wound was in the stomach/bowels, not really "eaten" or even that messy, but lots of feathers underneath the poor girl. The part of the attack that makes me wonder if it was a racoon is that it was in a secluded corner of the yard, tucked between the compost and bamboo. Not a prime spot for a bird to get her.

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