Hi Folks, I'm new to the forum, but not new to chickens. However, this is my first full year living on the prairie as a single person in northern Iowa. I lived in NE Iowa before this, and in the mountains of NorCal, since 1985. always rural since 1982, mostly with chickens. Here at my new home out in the stix, I have an old 14' x 14' shed I kept that's perfect for my small flock, 75 feet from my house. I put up portable mesh fencing to give them a yard to roam. It has a large oak in it for shade, the weeds growing taller every day. My 2.5 acres had to be dulldozed free of trash, old outbuildings, and garbage from the old residents, and last Fall all new construction done, from new well, septic, and my new manufactured home installed, so most of it is growing back from bare dirt. I've had chickens for years in different settings. From a small flock of 6 to 200 layers and several hundred fancy French meat birds for farmer's market meat sales. The only predator problems I had in Cali was from roaming neighbor's dogs, just twice, although there were plenty of varmints around, and my farm cats never harmed my chickens. I haven't had chickens since 2007, and not in Iowa. I was going to get 8 adult large hens and 2 big roosters from a friend a few miles away. I decided to just bring home 4 hens for now, about 2 weeks ago. All was fine for a week. I close them in at night, let them out in the morning. After a week, one was missing in the morning. I'd forgotten to close their door the evening before when it had started to rain, was very windy, cold for 24 hrs. But they all roost up in the rafters. I found her carcass out behind the shed, out of view from the house, but I have a windbreak of roundbales in between me and them, blocking my view from where I mainly spend my time when indoors, near a certain window. She was eaten clean, her carcass lying in the tall grass. I found some prints in the mud by my truck nearby, I think a racoon. Since then, I've been careful to lock them in each night. The shed is otherwise totally secure. This morning all 3 were fine, I let them out. I left for a few hours, returned, all was fine. They were outside, taking dirtbaths. I just went out a little bit ago to close them in (about 6:30pm). Only 2 were there. Searched everywhere in the hedges, ditches, pole barn, front yard; no loose hen. I went back, searched their yard again. No hen. Then I looked up and saw her. What remained of her. Sprawled over a big branch about 7 feet above the ground. It was a hot sunny day, and what remained was already dried out. Just wing feathers, head, feet; breast, legs, everything, picked clean to the bare bone. I heard nothing out there this afternoon. That branch is on the opposite side from the house, where I can't see it. My cats (who are new to chickens) didn't do this. A racoon didn't do this. A coyote didn't do this. There was no trail of feathers, no blood, and I'm a decent tracker, but it's grassy around the tree. I've not seen any hawks nor eagles here, at all. I've heard owls at night sometimes. I used to hear a single coyote howling out in the field a ways away on Winter nights, but not since the snow melted in March. Coincidentally, 4 days before the first hen was killed, one of my older cats also vanished without a trace in the late afternoon. I was outside working on my garden in the front yard. All 9 of my cats were with me, playing. Then Felix was gone. They do go along the ditches hunting, Felix was often going 1/4 mile up the road, but I could see him. He was 9 pounds, a large-bodied cat, a born farm cat, had never gotten lost in his 10 yrs, he knows where home is. I take them all indoors at dusk. Felix didn't come home, didn't respond to my calls all night, haven't seen a trace of him since - I keep hoping, but I'm losing hope, with the hens being killed, too. Tomorrow I'm going to take the last 2 hens back to my friend and their old flock, a few miles away, because this isn't fair to them - not until I can figure out what's going on and stop it. Looks like I'm going to have to build an enclosure of chicken wire, and cover it with chicken wire, too, before I can bring them back and get all of them. Bummer, I wanted them to have more room to roam. What predator would do this, in this manner, at this time of day, and possibly also snatch my cat? I think it's all related. I'm stumped, having seen and heard nothing today when this must have happened. Gotta go bring the kitties inside for the night now.