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Predator attacks after 2 years of peaceful chicken raising(warning GRAPHIC Photos)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by PandoraChick, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. PandoraChick

    PandoraChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 5, 2011
    The Dunes Indiana!
    Hello everyone,

    I am very sad to report that I have lost 2 young pullets(age 5 months) in the last few weeks. One had just started laying and the other was due anyday. I am trying to determine what kind of predator did this and learn ways to help prevent this in the future. A little background info first.
    We have been raising chickens for a couple years now. We live in northwest Indiana up against the Dunes Nation Lakeshore, which is a protected forest area up against Lake Michigan. Our property is the located adjacent to the dunes area, being the last home/residential area before the dunes. There is also a railroad that runs parallel to our property,separating our property from the dunes. We have about 2 acres, all of which is enclosed with 6 foot privacy fence and 6 ft heavy duty chain link.

    We have about 35 chickens, but 24 are laying/larger breeds that live in the back coop. The fancy ones live in a the banty coop closer to our home. There coop is very secure and safe and we have never had a problem with anything getting in. These attacks happened outside the coop. We have let them free range from dawn to dusk for the last 2 years peacefully.

    Across from our coop, there was an old abandoned/dilapidated house. The town finally torn it down a few weeks ago. I am telling you this becasue I am starting to think there were foxes living in it and maybe they were displaced and just now noticed my chickens..or its just a coincidence.

    The first attack happened in the back, byt the coop, just on the other side of the fence. It was a black austrolop pullet, d-capitated and its insides eaten out. There were not really any feathers around. We assumed it was hawk at that time, and I kept the chickens on lock down for a couple days, trying to decide if the risk was worth the reward for them.

    Well this morning, I let my great dane Milly out(she is gentle with hem and they all get along fine). I could hear her growling/barking and then she ran up to the house and was jumping on the sliding door barking..she then led me to the "crime scene".

    This time it was one of my huge Brahma pullets who had just started laying. head gone, insides eaten out...but feathers everywhere, It was right along the back fence a few feet away from the coop. Is there anyway to tell what kind of predator did this? I did fine a low spot in the fence that I believe a fox could get through. Do hawks/eagles carry away their kill or would they eat it right there? I did not see any tracks anywhere near the body. Our plan is to re-inforce the bottom of the fecne everywhere and make sure there are no spots anything could get in. We also have a huge run for the chickens, and are looking at ordering avian netting...thisn way they can still have a nice area to hang out, but be safer. the thing is, the run is so big its going to cost $$$$$ if we do the whole thing, and we have trees back there too...we will have to find a way to enclose it without cutting the trees down.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Veer67

    Veer67 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sorry for your loss. [​IMG] It could be a raccoon or weasel, I have heard they eat the insides and leave feathers scattered around, foxes carry away chickens.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  3. furbabymum

    furbabymum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Burns, Wyoming
    I now our great horned owls (yes we consider them to be adopted, we did feed them after all) would rip the heads off and feathers would be everywhere. They'd leave the bodies but the heads would be gone. They'd come back for the bodies later....
     
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    Almost certifiably a raptor. They peel the feathers off a chicken like you or I peel an orange and the hawk often begins feeding before the bird is dead.

    The large amount of feathers in one area is a "dead" give away, no pun intended.

    And if you'll look closely you can see were the hawk pulled off long strips of flesh, without ripping or dismembering the body.
     
  5. PandoraChick

    PandoraChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 5, 2011
    The Dunes Indiana!
    Thanks guys. Husband was up late, tying up fishing wire across the entire fenced area...also used some bright yellow "johnny ball" rope and tied some cds up. Read that helps. Sucks that we cant let them free range. One thing I am not certain of... Our rooster "Thumper"( a huge cuckoo marans) was caught hiding in the coop with the older hens when both attacks happened. Each time, it was a young, inexperienced pullet that was nabbed. If it were a fox or something, I would think he would be more inclined to try and help the pullet, but maybe not.

    I am also going to put a radio back there with music...read that helps deter hawks. Any suggestions for music? lol.
     
  6. furbabymum

    furbabymum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My roosters have always been the ones on the bottom of the pile when hiding from anything. Biggest wimps ever.
     
  7. Mr Gamecock

    Mr Gamecock Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 30, 2013
    South Carolina
    My rooster would run away everthing EXEPT something is messing with his flock he will crow and carry on and he normal peaceful but when a hen crys HERE COMES FOG HORN LEG HORN(that is his name)
     
  8. Tara80

    Tara80 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have had a raccoon do exactly this to one of my RR egg layers.
    I heard a huge ruckus about 1:30 in the morning and caught it in the act.
    Tore her belly open and ate out the internal organs and left the rest. Not sure if that is normal for them or not; but I wanted to at least let you know that coons can do this as well and they climb fences.
    The coon that got my RR was.... ah.. taken care of, and then a week later found that it had a mate which was also taken care of.
    Good luck on finding the culprint.
     
  9. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do your attacks happen in the day or the night? The problem is that once your flock become prey they become a sustainable food source unless you make changes. My original flock was good like yours for a couple of years and I thought everything was great. I also increased my flock from 3 to 55 and suddenly, I became a food source for all kinds of critters. Hawks were so bold, I had a young hawk that would fly down and watch my pullets inside the tractor. I had to move the whole thing. I then started losing chickens to a fox who began with my chickens foraging in the woods early in the morning. I had to wait until later in the day to let them out of the coops. Then I got to experience raccoons, opossums, owls. So I then had to address security. Every am I would go out and let the chickens out of the coop but I would also assess the paw prints in the run. It is par for the course of chickens. You just have to try different things. Covering runs if you can and creating impenetrable defenses. Learn what the is out there and hope you can prevent being a food source so that the wildlife will find another easy source of food. I have lost chickens and found feathers like you did. What kind of prints were around? A little sleuthing will help.

    I am sorry for your losses. I hope you can discover the perp and find a way to prevent it from happening again.

    Caroline
     
  10. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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