Something went on my porch and took two chickens

WhiteSilver

In the Brooder
Jul 27, 2018
5
7
12
Hi guys. I’m a bit frazzled after learning that two of my six chickens went missing overnight. I have no idea what did it, and the clues are pointing me in all different directions. My father and I built a coop against our house next to our back door; it has a solid roof and wooden posts with chicken wire fencing and a latch door made of the same materials. For the three years we’ve had chickens, we’ve had no issues with predators until now (with the exception of some rodents eating a chicken who had died overnight in the coop).

I came home from school today to find out from my mother that she counted two chickens missing and had found a big hole about 6-8 inches high and wide between the top and bottom sections of fencing. Our chickens roost on an old rabbit hutch at night about three feet from our back door and directly next to our porch. My mother wanted me to investigate because she knows I’m good with that kind of stuff, and so what I found was a small bunch of feathers at the bottom of our steps (meaning whatever it was walked down about seven steps). Then a few more feathers in my neighbor’s yard and then finally in my neighbor’s yard about 45 feet away from the coop was a large amount of bloody feathers and a small chunk of wing. There were absolutely no feathers outside of our yards but there were no bodies either, so the trail went cold.

We’re in eastern PA in the suburbs. There is a small forest nearby and a bunch of cornfields which are separated by a playground and baseball field as well as a large lit parking lot. In the past few years, we’ve seen about two possums, two foxes, two skunks, and one raccoon. None of these encounters happened recently however. We also have a duck who lives by herself in a much more unsecured dog pen and didn’t seem phased at all despite being only a few feet away from the steps where the first batch of feathers were.

I have no idea what would have taken our chickens. I’ve heard raccoons will peel apart chicken wire and grab the chickens, but also that they’re messy eaters and will leave the carcass nearby rather than take it elsewhere. Foxes I’ve heard are notorious for running off with prey to eat elsewhere but prefer to dig under the fence, and there were no holes or signs of digging near our coop. I’m also uncertain what animal would be brave enough to walk onto our porch feet from the back door and take the chickens through the fence or just take my duck who would be a much easier target. I know it’s approaching Halloween, so is it possible that even in a quiet PA suburb, someone might be stealing chickens?

I’m just so paranoid that we’ll lose the rest of our chickens because we don’t even know what we’re protecting them from. Our remaining chickens seemed terrified to roost tonight, so they piled on top of each other in a single nest box on the ground which is very abnormal behavior for most birds.

Sorry for the long post, but I’m really hoping for at least a little insight as to what predator (or person) it might be so we know how to fortify our coop. Thanks in advance
 

ChickenLeg

Crowing
9 Years
Feb 15, 2012
1,399
1,596
297
Sounds like a coon, Ive seen them drag bodies far away before. Best to have a barrier where the chickens cant get pulled thru maybe some plywood type board. Also I use 2x4 welded steel fence then chicken wire on my bottom 2 feet. The welded wire is a lot harder for a coon to rip something thru especially with the chicken wire as extra support. Coons cant rip welded 2x4in fence apart like thy can with chicken wire. I only use chicken wire on bottom because thats the only area my chickens would be exposed to the fence while they are on the ground and the extra support makes it nearly impossible for them to be pulled through.
 

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