Protecting from Owls, please help!

Laura LaVergne

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2017
6
7
11
I've lost a few of my flock recently, and I thought I was dealing with a raccoon based on the attacks.
Head and neck gone, feathers scattered.
I've never had a predator problem and had been letting my girls do their thing, the older flock enjoyed roosting on top of the run. At first I was hesitant but because they like to bully my bantams and any new additions, it solved a lot of worry to allow them to separate.
After losing one a night for several days, I decided it wasn't worth the risk and started putting everyone on lockdown before dark.
I put up several live traps in areas that I have found bodies, and the bait has never been disturbed (cat food and marshmallows).
Since I've been locking them up, I've heard a great horned owl nearby several times...and I think that may be the culprit after all.
I may be better off if thats the case, since locking everyone up is all I'll have to do to prevent another loss...but my question is this-
How long after sunrise will an owl attack?
I dont like to keep them in the same area together long during waking hours, so I've been letting them out right after the sun comes up.
This morning that owl hooted at me the entire time I was out there, and it made me wonder if he might make an exception on the usual hunting times since I've changed the accessibility of his easy meals.
 

SunHwaKwon

Crowing
Jul 19, 2015
5,610
2,680
407
North Central Florida
I've lost quite a few guineas to owls and they always take the body, even if they eat most of it in place. I've seen the owls attack and killing them, and there is never a body left behind. I believe a raccoon is climbing on top of your run. They can be very trap savvy, especially if they have been trapped before and released by a "kind hearted" person.

Owls usually rely on stealth to hunt so I don't think they hunt once the sun comes up unless they had a tough night and have mouths to feed back at the nest.

A game camera can help you figure out what is coming around.

It sounds like you might need more room. My flock is about 50/50 large fowl and bantams and they all get along.
 

Laura LaVergne

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2017
6
7
11
Thanks for the reply...I wish mine got along better. I'm not sure why my older hens are more territorial, they are bullies even when they're free ranging. They have plenty of room and they get plenty of food and treats. I've even tried toys and mirrors lol. None have been seriously hurt, so maybe I'm overreacting about their behavior.
I suppose until I actually see with my own eyes I need to be open to all predator possibilities.
Any tips on the trapping?
 

SunHwaKwon

Crowing
Jul 19, 2015
5,610
2,680
407
North Central Florida
Some breeds like RIR are more prone to bullying.

I saw a raccoon on my game camera and actually managed to catch it pretty easily after a couple nights with some leftovers from the fridge in a trap. Make sure you have the right size trap and I have read that it can help to cover it with a tarp or boards to make it less obvious in appearance. A bit of food scattered around the outside might help a bit.
 

Laura LaVergne

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2017
6
7
11
Ive never had to trap anything before... covered the traps somewhat with pine boughs, and I caught chickens in both for a while so it would smell like them instead of me. I have some empty tuna cans to put bait in just past the trip plate, tied to the bottom of the cage so it can't be pulled from the sides. I placed them near the outside of my run where I have found the dead. Baiting with dry cat food and marshmallows.
 

B Redhawk

Chirping
May 24, 2017
84
74
80
Owls will hunt from about an hour before sundown to and hour after sunup normally.
I use a live trap for raccoons, foxes and weasels but they don't get to come out of it alive.
 

silarajc

Chirping
Mar 27, 2017
95
6
51
Western Missouri
I was greeted one morning last week by what I believe was a great horned owl IN my coop. He flew to the wire fence walling off one side to greet me, and it took me a while to even register what I was seeing. I think he must have climbed in, pushing on the wire I used to block off the open wall, and found a week spot. I didn't see any gaping holes.

He had torn the wing and head off one bird, and only ate off the wing. The body was left by the feeders where the rest of the flock had huddled. One of the roosters he had torn the breast off, and I had to put that one down. It was pretty scary chasing him out of the coop. I have since tried some scare tactics like string around the coop and mylar tape, as well as adding more fasteners for the wire fencing. I let my chickens free range during the day, but at least they are locked tight during the night.
 

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