Something killed my chickens!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Kim's Chix, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. Kim's Chix

    Kim's Chix Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2010
    I've set traps, to no avail. All but four of my chickens have been killed. Whatever it was didn't bother the ducks or the turkeys. It would eat the heads of the chooks, there was no blood. And sometimes, not always, the abdomen was eaten out too. Any idea of what it could be?
  2. ilmbg

    ilmbg New Egg

    Oct 2, 2016
    Coons like to kill, maybe eat one bite, then kill the next, and so on. Quietly
  3. caw555

    caw555 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 21, 2016
    New Zealand
    Probably a coon.
    did you find holes anywhere where it could of gotten in.
    Also were they killed at night or day?
  4. Kim's Chix

    Kim's Chix Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2010
    Al were killed at night, but only one a night. I had live traps set, but never caught anything. I have since moved the survivors to a more secure pen. But I would still like to know what it was. Someone told me that it was a gopher rat.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Keep traps out using a carcass as bait. As a general rule, when I have had a kill event, at least one carcass is left out to be a focus of surveillance and efforts to catch predator. Moving the surviving birds is good. These days if a predator can get at a group of chickens in a pen, then I harden the defenses a bit. Get birds to roost higher and at least 18" from the pen perimeter reducing predators motivation to get through whatever pen / coop walls are made. When perp is suspected to be a raccoon, fox, or opossum; then I use hot-wire that is positioned around base of pen about 6" off ground and 6" from pen base. Predator moving on ground gets zapped when probing around pen. Odds are predator will go back to scavenge previous kills rather than face repeated zaps. Charger need not be all that powerful as predator will be particularly aggravated by getting zapped at same time it is exploring a physical obstruction. Keep traps out for additional nights even if a predator is captured. You may be dealing with more than one or first critter caught may be in for carcasses without being actual killer.

    If I had to start from scratch, then electrified poultry netting would be setup as a perimeter around pens / coops. Netting need not even be closed so you and free-range birds can go in and out without hindrance. The night time predator will have a hard time figuring out entrance and bounce away when encountering perimeter.

    In future take pictures of kill sights showing undisturbed carcass and area around it. Appearance and dispersion of feathers can be informative. For raccoons I look for a carcass to be rolled about with many feathers having a slobbered on look. Raccoons and opossums also are not good at making quick kills so look about for signs of struggle. Numerous times I have interrupted raccoons getting into chickens and it is seldom quite. Most recent bouts involved attacks on neighbors chickens that my dog would alert me to. Raccoon itself is quite but chickens give all sorts of alarm calls that are quite loud such that they can be heard from several hundred feet away. When I hear such immediate response is to go straight to response, usually at a run picking up a stick on the way. I always have a spot light above door like we used to keep a rifle so as I go out pens are checked with light beam where I look for eyeshine. This time of year windows are kept open to make hearing event easier. Having even a puny house dog can help as dogs can hear what is going on outside much better than a human and will alert you that something is going on. In my setting dog replaces stick and often rifle. Rifle still at ready.
  6. Coyox

    Coyox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2016
    Belleville, MI
    If the traps aren't working maybe next spring it's a good idea to change the coop layout? If they are getting in that easily and suddenly.... Our coop is on a 4in deep cement pad and all of the windows/open gaps for airflow are small and covered in strong netting. Pretty easy changes to keep the chicken bandits out. Especially if you're buying rare breeds, paying for a cement bottom is well worth it.
  7. Kim's Chix

    Kim's Chix Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2010
    I will definitely be making additional defense upgrades in the coming spring.

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