Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Steve777, Apr 24, 2016.

  1. Steve777

    Steve777 Chirping

    Jul 14, 2013
    I am putting together a few recent symptoms, and coming to the conclusion that I may have a predator problem. I was hoping that folks here could give me their thoughts. Here are the symptoms:

    1. Over the last few weeks, I occasionally see one of the hens with some feather missing. One was near her breast bone. Just last night it was another with a bare spot on the side of her neck. In both these cases no flesh wounds, just looks like someone grabbed a bunch of feathers and pulled them out. The one with the neck spot is the top of the pecking order, so seems unlikely hers was due to other hens.

    2. The other morning I found an egg outside the coup, broken and the inners eaten out (no liquid egg remains there as would be if it was just dropped and broken).

    3. Egg production has dropped off recently too.

    4. And not sure if this is related, but again recently if I leave the feeder out over night, it seems to get emptied. So perhaps a predator who is willing to eat feed as well as chickens/eggs.

    At first, when it was just the hen with the bare spot on her breast, I wrote it off to the hens picking on her. The egg outside the coop I put off to maybe we dropped an egg on the way back to the house at first. But now with the top hen missing feathers on the side of her neck, I am coming to the conclusion that there is a predator involved here.

    The hens are closed in the coup at night with their door shut and latched, and we have not found the door opened in the AM, so whatever is doing these attacks during the day or early evening before the door gets closed.

    I don't see any tunnels under the coup area fence (chain link 6' high). So I am thinking some rodent who can slip thru the holes in the fence (rat or weasel).

    There is an electric fence wire that runs along the top of the fence, meant to keep climbing predators out. I need to check that it still is working right.

    What do folks think? What animal(s) are likely behind these attacks? And how might I best go about trapping this critter?

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016

  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    My first thought is rats. They'll take eggs, and I have read that they will chew on feathers - but I can't say that for sure. I have never experienced that. They would also explain the disappearing feed at night.
  3. bigoledude

    bigoledude Songster

    Jan 16, 2011
    SE, Louisiana
    I just can't imagine a rat being able to haul a chicken egg outside of a coop? Your scenario is tough to figure. A coon or possum could possibly maneuver an egg outside. But, you would surely be able to find an opening in your defenses that either could fit through.

    As far as the feathers go, EVERY predator that attacks chickens is a likely candidate for snatching feathers from a chicken.

    You've probably read many suggestions here to deploy a game cam to identify a culprit. Well, just because a good idea has been suggested a gang of times, doesn't make it a bad idea. Again, last year's models of game cams can be purchased for a fraction of their original costs. Ebay is the best place I know to buy very inexpensive game cams. Don't buy the older ones (4-5 years). These have small data storage and eat up batteries like we eat grits!

    You do eat grits huh?
  4. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Songster

    Jul 18, 2013
    Kalispell MT
    I will say that game cams work very well. Bought one and put it out a couple weeks ago. Didn't find anything lurking around my coop, however, loaned it out to the lady across the street and we got a picture of a fox at 12:48 am checking out her coop. Now she knows what she is dealing with as she's lost several birds. She is busy making her coop stronger.
  5. Southern Ann

    Southern Ann Chirping

    Mar 9, 2015
    My Coop
    Rooster can pull out feather but with the egg part these are my two explanations. You might have dropped the egg and cracked it a little and once a chicken finds a cracked egg they will eat it all. It might also be a possum I'm not think to much with the rat coon because a ratcoon with usually try to kill the chickens. I would just put up a shock fence to be on the safe side.

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