Playing dead?!

Jessicx

Chirping
Aug 12, 2017
88
88
86
Central Texas
Hi again everyone!
We've been having a major issue with late night predation. My chickens refuse to roost in the coop, so they move from place to place each time they are attacked. Our latest predator is an owl, and I caught him again early this morning going after one of only two remaining roosters. I heard the roo scream, came running out, and found him dead as dead on the porch laying on his side and not moving. Went back in as it was too dark to bury the chicken, and the owl came back for what I assumed was to retrieve his meal. I made this assumption because the roo's body was gone when I went outside to run the owl off the second time. 3 hours later, The roo is alive and kicking without injury!!
Is this possible?! I've seen my chickens hunker down to hide from predators, but never play dead like this.
 

HenOnAJuneBug

Crowing
May 20, 2015
2,720
5,756
392
I'm so glad your roo made it. I had a similar experience once when I saw a coyote running off with (what I thought was) one of my hens in his mouth. I knew she was a goner. I was sure surprised when I did a head count that evening to find they were all there. I looked closer and she was missing all of her tail and rear end feathers and had some tearing and puncture wounds, but she healed up.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,342
19,898
832
California's Redwood Coast
We've been having a major issue with late night predation. My chickens refuse to roost in the coop, so they move from place to place each time they are attacked.
We need to get your coop predator proofed and move them in manually after dark until they go in there again on their own. Or put them in lock down several days to rehome them back to their coop. What's going on sounds very stressful.

How many roosters did ya start out with?

Yes some people have roosters that go limp when being carried around. Maybe not exactly playing dead... but maybe so. Animals learn or figure out new behaviors all the time.

Sorry for your other losses. :(
 

Jessicx

Chirping
Aug 12, 2017
88
88
86
Central Texas
We need to get your coop predator proofed and move them in manually after dark until they go in there again on their own. Or put them in lock down several days to rehome them back to their coop. What's going on sounds very stressful.

How many roosters did ya start out with?

Yes some people have roosters that go limp when being carried around. Maybe not exactly playing dead... but maybe so. Animals learn or figure out new behaviors all the time.

Sorry for your other losses. :(
I've tried everything to get these babies into the coop, including transporting by hand every night for months. The issue is that I can't keep the snakes out, and the chickens have learned to equate the coop with danger. I have no choice but to predator proof the yard with decoys, mirrors, traps, and lights. I just need to find something that works.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,871
125,271
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Snake proof the coop, easier than predator proofing the whole yard I would think?

Where in this world are you located?
Climate is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, then it's always there!
upload_2018-11-25_10-59-47.png
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,725
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
Hi again everyone!
We've been having a major issue with late night predation. My chickens refuse to roost in the coop, so they move from place to place each time they are attacked. Our latest predator is an owl, and I caught him again early this morning going after one of only two remaining roosters. I heard the roo scream, came running out, and found him dead as dead on the porch laying on his side and not moving. Went back in as it was too dark to bury the chicken, and the owl came back for what I assumed was to retrieve his meal. I made this assumption because the roo's body was gone when I went outside to run the owl off the second time. 3 hours later, The roo is alive and kicking without injury!!
Is this possible?! I've seen my chickens hunker down to hide from predators, but never play dead like this.
Can you show pictures of where owl is coming in?

I bet the owl is coming in more than you know. Odds are primary interest for owl is rodents. When chicken definantly dead, then leave it in place to distract owl until you can owl proof your setup. Otherwise the owl will make a second kill on next visit.

I mess will owls a lot and see the birds relocate when owl comes in.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,725
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
I have a very open barn that dogs help protect. Dogs are based mostly in yard about 120 yards from barn. Dogs go to barn quickly when chickens give alarm calls. What I do now is have a low wattage light bulb setup to provide just enough light for chickens to see visitors but hopefully not enough to promote out of season laying. The chickens see owl, give alarm, then dogs come in and push owl out.

Game cameras are fun as well to figure out what owl and other bad guys are doing.
 

Jessicx

Chirping
Aug 12, 2017
88
88
86
Central Texas
Snake proof the coop, easier than predator proofing the whole yard I would think?

Where in this world are you located?
Climate is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, then it's always there!
View attachment 1599376
Done....thanks for the tip! I'm in Texas, just north of San Antonio. Now that it's getting colder, the snakes are for the most part gone. I'm going to try to manually walk them to the coop tonight, but I'm not holding my breath.
 

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