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Something is getting them, but what?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by SlowHorse, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. SlowHorse

    SlowHorse Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 11, 2007
    I take care of a flock of 50 (now 48 [​IMG] ) for the 'little old lady' I rent a barn from for my horses. They are now 8 weeks old and free ranging during the day. The farm owner is always around and 'keeps an eye' on them during the day while I'm at work.

    Wednesday night when I went to shut up the coop, I noticed the one RIR of the whole group was missing - just one. If it hadn't been the RIR, I probably wouldn't even have noticed. I looked EVERYWHERE for him, not a sign. They don't stray far from the barn just yet, and have tons of places to hide from prediators, as well as access to their fenced area & coop at all times (only the chickies can fit through the fence gate the way we set it right now, a full grown chicken wouldn't even fit through). Thursday night, all was well - 49 on the roosts when I had them all in for the evening. Last night, 48. [​IMG] And the farm owner was surprised as she said she kept an 'extra close eye' yesterday. Again, only one and again, no signs - no feathers no nothing.

    I have the next three days off work, a mini vacation. I'm determined to put a stop to this - where do I start trying to figure out what it might be? At this rate, there won't be any that make it long enough to even start to lay, and the fenced area is far too small for all of them as they are growing (she's kept chickens many times in the past, and always free ranged them during the day so this was the plan from the beginning).
     
  2. Whirlwind

    Whirlwind Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    Tuttle, Oklahoma
    Bummer!!!! [​IMG] Thats a tough one tho. Sounds like what ever it is it is gonna keep coming back for free chicken dinner. Someone on here suggested a video camera to try to catch the culprit. Is there no trace, no feathers nothing?
     
  3. Gracefulspice

    Gracefulspice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 25, 2007
    Pa
    Sounds like a hawk to me. No body...no feathers. Quick and quiet when they move in to take one. Only one is needed for a meal. I agree with the video camera. Mabey you can catch it on video? But you may loose another in the process. [​IMG]
     
  4. lurky

    lurky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2007
    Western MA
    If you let 8 week olds free range, i would think you should expect to be losing them. I might be new at this, but people here post about losing full grown birds to MANY different predators everyday.....so a baby left out is good as gone. I would bet your right about losing the rest. I bet its a hawk since its during the day, but it could be alot of other things too.

    oh and i want to mention that we have a yard where hawks are the biggest fear. when they take birds from the feeder, they always leave a mess of feathers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  5. SlowHorse

    SlowHorse Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Not a trace, and I literally beat the bushes looking for a sign. The day the first one went missing was the first time they had been out in a hard rain, so I kept thinking maybe she dashed for cover somewhere and got lost and was just hiding. I looked everywhere and took a rake and literally beat all the bushes & brush around the barn where they like to hide and went well beyond their normal ranging ground looking for her trying to flush her out. The rest are all white, brown or black, so her feathers should have been obvious. Left the door open until the last possible moment in case she showed up, but nothing. [​IMG] Not a single feather ANYWHERE, just vanished on both accounts. The property should be free range heaven for chickies, there are SO many places to hide, even a farm fenced area just off the pen that only the chickies can fit through when they dash in, with thick brush for cover. When all was well the next night, I really thought it was an isolated incident - something happened to her and she couldn't get back. I even looked for her more the next day in case she was out there somewhere needing help. But now another? There is only one roo, but the pullets make PLENTY of noise when I go to pick them up, so I can only imagine that there would be a ruckus if a predator were about. Whatever it is, it's just snatching them quietly and carting them away. [​IMG]

    This is heartbreaking and I can't just do nothing, but what to do??
     
  6. Whirlwind

    Whirlwind Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    Tuttle, Oklahoma
    Well Storey's guide says coyotes, foxes, bob cats, hawks and eagles carry off the whole bird. So I would probably guess hawk. I lost one fully grown hen, no feathers but the others were really hiding and had windows open and never heard a peep. I think a fox might take more than one. Watch your birds when you are out there. Mine were really spooked by any bird flying over them for several days after. Then the hawk was hanging around so I knew it was him.
     
  7. SlowHorse

    SlowHorse Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 11, 2007
    I'm reading elsewhere that goats help with hawks? We've got the room, and I'm willing. I've had them before and just love them. I'll go tomorrow and get a pair if they really do help.

    Thank you for all of the ideas, and I'd love more if you have them.
     
  8. fowlweatherfriends

    fowlweatherfriends Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2007
    The Sunny South
    Yep. Goats help with ALL kind of predators-good thinking!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  9. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    I think a raptor too...See if there's a way to cover the coop/run. that would help protect them.
     
  10. AccidentalFarm

    AccidentalFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 29, 2007
    Quote:This may sound stupid...but HOW do goats help? What do they do to frighten off predators? I was kind of thinking along the lines of a goat or maybe mini-donkey because I have heard this before. But, what protects them from predators such as dogs or large cats?
     

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