Predator forensic help

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ChickieKat, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. ChickieKat

    ChickieKat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2013
    We had our first predator attack last night on our girls. We live in Vermont on the side of a mountain known to have raccoons, foxes, hawks, owls, coyotes, bears, fisher cats, bobcats, neighborhood dogs and neighborhood cats. We have let them free range for about a year and a half and often forget to lock the coop door until quite late at night (I know this is entirely our fault, and am not looking for blame, we are going to crack down immediately). I am trying to figure out what may have attacked based on what we found.

    Last night, we got out to the coop around 8pm and found one girl with a very badly ripped up comb. She was shaking her head and blood was flying everywhere. There were blood sprays all around one corner of the coop. This morning we saw a trail of small drops of blood leading up the ramp to the coop door, so I am pretty sure the attack happened outside, not in the coop. One other hen lost a two handfuls of feathers on her top of one wing and on her back and one of our roos lost a quite wide bite of feathers on his back. All of the bites left behind significant amounts of saliva. The feathers were all sort of crunchy like they had been saturated in saliva, so that is what I am assuming it was.

    We did hear an owl hooting a bit after we got the injured hen out of the coop, which doesn't explain the crunchy feathers. The girl with the two patches out of her back feathers seems like it is about as wide as an owl's feet would be.

    Does anyone have any ideas what this might be?
  2. ChickieKat

    ChickieKat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2013
    One other bit, we have three roos and 14 hens. Our head rooster and one other is quite protective of our girls and our third is just reaching maturity and really is mostly a doofus.
  3. ChickieKat

    ChickieKat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2013
  4. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2011
    Central Florida

    I would say mammal since the saliva was so predominant. Perhaps a young one not so adept at huntingsince injury--and not a meal--was the end result.

    I would not free range anymore because the coop is now a known source of food. Perhaps you could stash the chickens in a garage and put a dog in the coop to confuse and discourage whatever the predator was.

    A camera will show you what you have instead of trying to guess. Meanwhile, you just have to double down on security for all possible predators.
  5. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Bird dogs in the area?
  6. NEChickenNoob

    NEChickenNoob Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2014
    SE Connecticut
    More than likely a common household dog. Put up a game cam, if it's a wild predator, it will come back, a dog may not. Because the injury and lack of kills it was more than likely a dog "playing" with your chickens.
  7. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 25, 2012
  8. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Night is when most predators will take your birds. They should be shut in their coop every night and let out in morning.
  9. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Agreed, unless of course your run is as secure as your coop.

    They then can come and go as they please without worry.
  10. ChickieKat

    ChickieKat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2013
    Thanks for all of the replies. We still haven't figured out what it was, but we went out looking for tracks in the snow last night after our Polish wandered off and got lost. It was the first time she has done this and we were worried that whatever had come for the girls two nights before had taken her. The only tracks we saw over our entire acre were squirrels prints. Not one dog or raccoon print, so that was a relief, although we will certainly be much more on top of safety. We actually don't have a run built, they free range and go back to the coop at night. We have just become so lax about locking them up at sun down, but will most definitely be much more careful. We know that it was our fault and fully accept responsibility for what happened, I was just hoping someone might have some ideas. It might have been a neighborhood dog. There are two that live across the street that have chased our chickens when they wander into their yard, but have never really caught one. There are also tons of people who walk their dogs on our dirt road, so it might have been one that was off leash.

    We did end up finding our Polish and our Jersey Giant is definitely on the mend, so now we are off to work on security. Thank you all again so very much for helping me to ponder this over.

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