Predator Attack, Survivors Staying in Coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Plymrocker, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. Plymrocker

    Plymrocker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would love all of you more experienced chicken-keeping folks to let me know if this is normal chicken behavior, and if there is anything we should be doing about it.

    We have been keeping chickens for 2-1/2 years now, and a few days ago, we had our very first tragic predator attack! I thought that was a pretty good run, but doesn't make this time any sadder.

    We had been out for the afternoon and got home a little late, at dusk. We knew right away something had happened, as the chickens were acting peculiarly. They all went into their coop, and when we went to close it all up, that's when we realized one was missing. Our black australorpe. Of course, the most loved one to one of my boys. They had such a special relationship. I wish it was any other chicken. But I digress.

    We found her dead by the back fence, pretty torn up. Right where they all run for shelter when a predator flies over. (We do have semi predator dissuasion over upper yard run - a criss-cross string contraption of sorts, that has worked amazingly well, and then a 100% secure smaller run. But I don't want to make this any longer than necessary.) Bottom line, we're thinking a hawk hopped in, and attacked. They are flying over all of the time, every day. Any hawk would not be able to swoop down, and also would not have easily been able to fly and carry away the chicken, because of our string contraption. But we're pretty sure that was the predator, where we are.

    The problem has been, that now the rest of the chickens have not been coming out of their coop for the day, in the morning. They just stay in all day long, unless we lure them out with treats. In which case they come out, eat, and go back in if they can.

    Are they afraid of predators now, more than they ever were before? (They've always been great on keeping a lookout, and running for cover if need be.) Do they remember what they witnessed happen to their fellow chicken? I didn't think chickens had memories like that. Similar to how you can sneak a new chicken into a coop in the dark, and no on will really notice there is a new one in the morning. Do they know there is one missing now? Are they traumatized or grieving? Is there anything we should be doing about this, such as force them out and close up the coop until the end of the afternoon. (Only one is still laying, because of the cold season here now.)

    We'd love your thoughts.
     
  2. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    They are scared.......What ever killed the Bird has probably been back.........Secure the run and in time they will come back out.......



    Cheers!
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, chickens have great memories, especially regarding danger. What your chickens are doing is normal behavior after being traumatized. Let them work through their fears. The instinct to want to go outside and scratch around will win over in time.

    As for fooling chickens by installing a new one in the coop at night, they certainly do notice a stranger among them. They have one another's faces memorized, and a strange face will be noticed, but introducing a new one at night is non-threatening. She will still need to integrate into the flock.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I don't think they're traumatized or grieving. I don't associate those emotions with chickens.

    But, chickens are prey animals. You don't live long as a prey animal if you disregard predators.

    Sounds pretty smart to me. " We were hanging out in the yard and a MONSTER came out of nowhere and tore Blackie apart. There are MONSTERS in the yard. I don't want to be torn apart. I'm not going into the yard........for a while, anyway. I'll hang out here where it's safe and there are no MONSTERS.....for a while. I'll venture out eventually, keeping close to the safe place and watching all the time for MONSTERS."


    I'd simply continue to give them the option to come and go, and let them chose.
     
  5. Plymrocker

    Plymrocker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 21, 2014
    Ok, it's good to hear that their behavior is normal, after such trauma in their territory. They did come outside today, but stayed under the coop - which is secure. So, they made some progress today. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH, for your replies!! [​IMG] We feel better about this now.
     
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Yeah.....Best of luck...........They will come out on their own.......Forcing them is scary too.......



    Cheers to you!
     
  7. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    Not only are you dealing with a traumatic event, but you are also dealing with the loss of a flock member. Once a chicken goes missing in a flock, all kinds of things start taking place other than fear. Now the chickens must sort who is the boss in the flock, who is the second in command and so forth. You might notice more conflict in the next few days-the more submissive chickens may stay under the coop if space is limited. As others said, make sure the coop is secure-top, bottom and sides. Good luck and sorry for your loss.
     
  8. Plymrocker

    Plymrocker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 21, 2014
    True. It's been a few more days now, and they are coming around. They do seem to be completely avoiding where the attack ended tragically, along the fence, which used to be the main area the chickens would run if a predator flew overhead. But....they are out and about more now, and that's a start.
     
  9. Plymrocker

    Plymrocker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 21, 2014
    Great thoughts for more consideration here. The chicken we lost was higher in the chain. But so far...knock on wood....no conflict has seemed to arise.
    Regarding their security options: Their coop and MAIN run, is 100% secure from predators. However, their main run can be opened to a more free range run (when we open their main-run doors), just for daylight hours, which is far less secure from predators, but we do have some deterrents in place, that have seemed to work very well. For one, there is a secure-ish fence around the open run. Then we made an overhead string contraption, to deter hawks from just swooping in, grabbing a chicken and flying back out. With their wing span, they'd get knocked out of flight. I am sharing the link below, so you can truly see our upper open run, their main secure run, and their coop. We've had the chickens for 2.5 years, and the string contraption in place since a year ago this past May. With hawks flying over several times a day, and this being our first predator-attack loss, I think it's working pretty well. (We also had a rooster who helped a lot, that we lost a year ago this past October. Not from a predator.). This first loss we just didn't get home in time, and the chickens hadn't gathered in the coop yet. At dusk when they do, we lock up the run and coop until early morning. We miss her. It doesn't help that we name them, and get all attached. This one we lost, was truly loved the most with one of my triplet boys. I wish it was any other chicken, then this one. They had a special connection, and spent a lot of leisurely time together, but he's been taking it better than I thought he might.

    http://houseofjoyfulnoise.com/deterring-flying-predators-from-our-chickens/

    Thanks for your thoughts. We'll be keeping an eye on them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
  10. Plymrocker

    Plymrocker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 21, 2014
    Great thoughts for more consideration here. The chicken we lost was higher in the chain. But so far...knock on wood....no conflict has seemed to arise.
    Regarding their security options: Their coop and MAIN run, is 100% secure from predators. However, their main run can be opened to a more free range run (when we open their main-run doors), just for daylight hours, which is far less secure from predators, but we do have some deterrents in place, that have seemed to work very well. For one, there is a secure-ish fence around the open run. Then we made an overhead string contraption, to deter hawks from just swooping in, grabbing a chicken and flying back out. With their wing span, they'd get knocked out of flight. I am sharing the link below, so you can truly see our upper open run, their main secure run, and their coop. We've had the chickens for 2.5 years, and the string contraption in place since a year ago this past May. With hawks flying over several times a day, and this being our first predator-attack loss, I think it's working pretty well. (We also had a rooster who helped a lot, that we lost in October. Not from a predator.). This first loss we just didn't get home in time, and the chickens hadn't gathered in the coop yet. At dusk when they do, we lock up the run and coop until early morning. We miss her. It doesn't help that we name them, and get all attached. This one we lost, was truly loved the most with one of my triplet boys. I wish it was any other chicken, then this one. They had a special connection, and spent a lot of leisurely time together, but he's been taking it better than I thought he might.

    http://houseofjoyfulnoise.com/deterring-flying-predators-from-our-chickens/

    Thanks for your thoughts. We'll be keeping an eye on them.
     

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