Scarey Predator Story: Resolved!

Catfsm

Songster
7 Years
Sep 28, 2011
78
19
112
West Lnn, Oregon
The chickens yelled so loud in the night, and I awoke and phoned my farm hand. We both went out to see what was up: An animal had killed several chickens. It killed them and left the carcasses! The other hens were hysterically clucking and frightened.

To prevent predators, we had dug down about a foot and put in fencing with less than 1 inch holes that was bent outwards. We also covered every possible hole with this sort of fencing material. We also had 3 roosters in the coop to help. However, when the chickens were yelling at 2 30 AM on that dark October night, we went down and I was sickened to see several of our beautiful hens and roosters lying on their sides with blood pouring out.

We covered a few little wall holes made by rats. Rats are prevalent here since we are on a small river and part of our property is a small woods. We thought we were safe, but the next night the same thing occurred! We took down the bee be gun I had found at a garage sale, hoping to use it to scare off the predator. We found more dead birds. Ten total the two nights.

The second night our big handsome Alpha Rooster, a Rhode Island Red, was standing over a dead hen. He had obviously fought with the predator. He was bleeding. I grabbed him and washed his wounds and put hydrogen peroxide on with a layer of vasolene over it to prevent it the peroxide from coming off. This is our old hero. He used to have a fantastic singing voice-- loud and clear and on pitch. I named him Placido Domingo after the famous Spanish opera tenor. Well, it took him 2 months to begin to sing again. Unfortunately, he is no longer the quintessential powerful boy he was, but we love him dearly. He is no longer the king of the barnyard. We put him into the coop with our pullets (Hens not yet ready to lay). He takes good care of them.

While I was caring for Placido Domingo, my farm hand SAW the the predator! It stood right there about 6 feet from him. He tried to shoot it with the be bee gun, but, amazingly, though we had had fun shooting at a target on a fences earlier, the gun did not work at all when he aimed it at the animal! We are guessing it had such a strong intention to survive and care for its young, that the gun did not work! The animal ran off down to the riverbank, where it probably has its nest. It may have returned, but we evacuated the coop.

We put all the hens into small coops -- a couple into the coop with two little hopefully hen silkies, 10 into the coop with the pullets, a few into a giant dog crate, and a few into a coop someone brought us when she came to check out our farm and realized that the hens she had to get rid of due to moving would be in paradise here with us. It was a tight fit to squeeze in 50 hens. Some even doubled up inside bunny hutches! The rabbits and hens got along great!

What kind of predator is it? We looked at pictures on line and discovered that it is a mink. A mink is in the weasel family. They like places by streams, and our little farm in on a pretty little river... Readers can go get photos of one and see why my friend said it is just so cute! I thank God because it has not been close to 4 months but the mink has not returned.

So, the next question was: What should we do? We are far from wealthy and hope to break even on the feed from the egg sales. (We are always in the hole with zero profit!) However, one must consider which is best: To fix the coop and save the hens or to sell them? Since we are gentle people and not real farmers, we have not been culling our birds when they are over 2 years old, as some of the literature on chicken farming suggests. So, some of our 70 chickens are 4-5 years old. How I figured it out is this: I let the younger ones support the older ones, while they enjoy their old age and do not lay much if at all. I realized that no one would take those old girls even if we wanted to sell them. Besides they are our pets! Many have names and stories. Some we hold and pet, etc.

My farm hand is 66 and not in good health. So, I hired a young guy to dig up our coop entirely. I put on an ad at Craigslist to pay very little for the job, but there was a clamoring for the work, and the guy was an energetic and fast worker! Our main coop is 24 by 12 to 15 feet (huge). It opens to a pasture area that is around 70 by 35. At my direction, the guy dug down 10 inches, and covered the floor of the coop with 1/2 inch wire, which he overlapped and stapled to 2 by 4s to keep the pieces firmly in place. He stapled each end on the walls going up about a foot. Then he replaced the dirt. I need to redo my "deep litter method" floor, but that will wait until summer. We put most of the hens back into our big coop.

By the way, the big coop is named "London". This is because I got to thinking that back in the time of Shakespeare (early 1600s), chickens lived all over London, and they lived a lot like ours do. However, chickens back then did not eat as well as ours do! Ours eat more like British Royalty (Queen Elizabeth the First and so on) ate back then! We bring them trays of vegetable cuttings, fruit, meat we won't eat such as freezer burned, dairy, oatmeal, milk, whole grains, cans of soup, etc. We also feed them good quality chicken food we buy at the farm store!. I found a sign saying "London" at a garage sale and put it on the door of the coop!

We put all the injured hens and the beautiful injured rooster into an infirmary coop. They all recovered so the damage was only the loss of 10 hens and the alpha rooster is no longer such a swaggering king.

The new alpha rooster is the one I am using as my "avatar". See his portrait above. He is a medium sized Leghorn which we named: King Arthur. He is a funny boy. He does not sing loudly. He is a good caretaker of the hens, but we also lost our other two roosters in the predator attack, and we recently got one new one from Craigslist. This new little guy is a bantum-- maroon colored Cochin. Would you believe it: The little Cochin boy seems to be the Alpha! He is small like the usual 3 month old pullet, strong and aggressive; and it seems that King Arthur is scared of him! We named him: Diminutive Scarlatti. This is because he seems to be Italian, is red, is beautiful like the music of Dominico Scarlatti, but is small.

We have not seen our mink again. I did see a little weasel called a Stoat going into with one of our bunny hutches, and I scared him away and fixed the coop to prevent further visitation! I did not get a good look at him. Recently we found a dead stoat on our patio, and the body was just so cute. It is amazing to me that these predators are such sweet looking animals both the mink and the stoat. We do have to get rid of them to prevent our flock from being destroyed, but they are not evil at all. They are just hungry animals, and, just like me, they love to eat!
 
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Mr Pink

Songster
Nov 21, 2016
193
312
131
West Central Missouri Ozarks
My Coop
My Coop
Bet your chicken have a very different opinion about the cuteness of Minks and Weasels ! I too think Minks are neat animals along with many other chicken predators however they decrease on my neatness meter the closer they get to my coop !

I guess if you can tolerate occasionally losing a dozen chickens or more you can keep an "it's not a big deal" attitude , if not those cute little chicken killers have to go. Personally it's not a situation I would deal with lightly ... trap and permanently eliminate would be my solution ! I don't raise chickens to feed wildlife and the only 100% for sure way I know to stop a particular animal from attacking my chickens is to parole them straight to Jesus !
 

Sunshine Flock

Crowing
Sep 27, 2017
1,332
3,709
307
Northern California
Well, I have to say, as sorry as I am to hear about the attack, I loved reading your post. Your chicken family and little farm sounds really charming. I love the stories and names, and I know what you mean about the cuteness of weasel creatures. I was surprised to learn recently just how vicious those teeny little things can be. If you have any spare pavers on your property, you can put them up against the coop on the outside to further help stop diggers and wood chompers. Of course, pavers can be slid out of the way, but I've come across lots of people who will layer up with anything they can spare to protect a dirt floor coop.

Our property sounds similar to yours. Our creek is seasonal, but the hill down to the creek is steep and packed full of trees and vegetation, and lots of creatures that would love to eat our chickens.

:p
 

Catfsm

Songster
7 Years
Sep 28, 2011
78
19
112
West Lnn, Oregon
Thank you for sharing your story, it's sad but I'm glad you were able to save your Alpha Rooster. Would setting traps for the mink/weasel be a possibility? Catching & disposing of them would help eliminate your stress.
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You are sweet to be so caring. I would set traps, but I believe it will be difficult: We have kitties running around out there, and they could get trapped, too, as could a hen or two.

The problem is we live in a rural area very close to many small cities. Habitat for animals in the weasel family is gradually diminishing. We have a will woodsy area and there is also an area that once had a creek but was created into a mill race way back in the late 1800s. Aside from me getting a caterpiller in to make is less of a trench and more flat and shallow, no other development has been done. I leave the woods, the old mill race, and much of the waterfront just about totally untouched. This is good habitat for animals. I believe there are deer out there, though since getting our two little goats to eat things about 5 years ago, there is no real cover for them where the pasture is so we do not see them from our back window any more.
 

Catfsm

Songster
7 Years
Sep 28, 2011
78
19
112
West Lnn, Oregon
Bet your chicken have a very different opinion about the cuteness of Minks and Weasels ! I too think Minks are neat animals along with many other chicken predators however they decrease on my neatness meter the closer they get to my coop !

I guess if you can tolerate occasionally losing a dozen chickens or more you can keep an "it's not a big deal" attitude , if not those cute little chicken killers have to go. Personally it's not a situation I would deal with lightly ... trap and permanently eliminate would be my solution ! I don't raise chickens to feed wildlife and the only 100% for sure way I know to stop a particular animal from attacking my chickens is to parole them straight to Jesus !
---------------------------------------------------------

Thank you, Mr. Pink!

I agree totally with what you say. I definitely do not have a "It's not a big deal" attitude. You have helped me a lot: You got me thinking about it.

However, how can one trap something like that since our back yard is a habitat for wildlife? It would be a losing battle...I could make the place into more of a farm: put rip rap along the water front instead of riperian grasses and trees, mow everything, put brick or concrete on the trails, etc., but such things are a lot of work and expensive.... I am not certain killing wild mink or stoats is legal here... I could find out. If I put out no kill traps so that we could move the weasels to other areas such as state parks, etc., I am concerned that any trap would just as easily catch one of the four kitties that run through our back yard.

I will consider what you say, and I thank you sincerely....
 

Catfsm

Songster
7 Years
Sep 28, 2011
78
19
112
West Lnn, Oregon
Well, I have to say, as sorry as I am to hear about the attack, I loved reading your post. Your chicken family and little farm sounds really charming. I love the stories and names, and I know what you mean about the cuteness of weasel creatures. I was surprised to learn recently just how vicious those teeny little things can be. If you have any spare pavers on your property, you can put them up against the coop on the outside to further help stop diggers and wood chompers. Of course, pavers can be slid out of the way, but I've come across lots of people who will layer up with anything they can spare to protect a dirt floor coop.

Our property sounds similar to yours. Our creek is seasonal, but the hill down to the creek is steep and packed full of trees and vegetation, and lots of creatures that would love to eat our chickens.

:p
Thank you, CarolinaSinshine! We do not have pavers, but I will keep my eyes open for security materials. Our coops, fencing and little barn are all made from recycled materials and other people's leftover materials. I bet there are things around that could help, and will start looking.

Isn't it wonderful that a place far away from us in the south east would be similar to what we have here in Oregon. I love that. If you are ever out this way, come visit!
 

Sparrowsong98

Songster
Jun 23, 2017
214
208
101
SW Pa
Something similar happened to me. I had one plump, funny, and pretty little blackstar hen that I loved to death. Her name was Latte. There was a hole somewhere in our chicken yard that the chickens were using to get out of the run and free range. I could not go investigate due to breaking my foot just a week prior, and assumed that the hole could wait until I could put weight on the foot in 2 more weeks. I was wrong. One day as I was looking out the window, I noticed that latte chicken was not in the yard or free ranging. I thought maybe she was just dustbathing in the chicken's favorite dust hole about 10 feet into the woods, but went down to investigate anyway. Latte was nowhere to be found. Still unconcerned, I waited until night, when all the truant birds climbed back through the hole, and settled down to bed. I snuck inside right after they settled on their perches, and did a head count. We were 9 birds short. I looked in the branches of the trees near the tree line, and under the coop, but no chickens. We continued to search for a week, before deciding that something ate 9 of our chickens and got away with it. We put up a trail camera like you use for hunting and checked it every night. Two nights, we saw an opossum. No, we thought. How could one little opossum kill 9 birds? We read online, and were told otherwise, but instead of investigating, we locked up the hens for the summer. Well, in October, I went down to feed the hens. I turned on the coop light and was surprised to see a chicken running around the floor. But when it is 9 P.M. And pitch black out, chickens do not go running around in the dark I told myself. I looked again. What I saw, looked like a large rat, with nasty mottled skin, and a disgusting face with round yellow eyes. Opposum. Being the tough, brave country girl I am, I screamed. Then I ran. This put stress on my tendon, which was still out of shape after not being used all summer, and hurt it. So, we called my cousin, and he came and shot it. Now, two cuckoo marans, and possibly two polish if I can get them out of the garage and integrated, have replaced some of the missing flock members, but our flock just feels weird now, especially after I took my city friend's roo when she could not keep him and my roo died (thank heavens he did, he tormented me endlessly). But yeah, opossums take things and leave no trace, and no, no birds were killed in his following attack in my coop.
 

Catfsm

Songster
7 Years
Sep 28, 2011
78
19
112
West Lnn, Oregon
Sparrowsong 98, Wow! Thanks for sharing. Great story.

I HATE Opossums, too. One day a few years ago a big one chased one of our cats into our house. The cat went under a low couch. The possum followed but was too big to catch the kitty under there. I took a broom and drove him outside. The cat was safe! The ugly possum hissed at me as he ran away! He left me a "gift". Under the couch was a yucky turd with mouse bones and other disgusting stuff. Luckily it was very dry and did not stink. I swept it on to a piece of newspaper and buried it! I got terrible shivers just thinking of that animal!
 
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