Spring predator curse

Chickengirl64

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 23, 2014
32
11
24
We moved into our house May 2014. I promptly lost my flock to an unknown predator. In talking to neighbors we think it was a fox. Spent the next two months reinforcing my coop (hardware cloth up and out from the base, etc). Moved a new flock in July 2014. Girls have been doing great. No predator problems. Kept warm over the cold winter. Fast forward to May, 2015, I lost one hen Friday night. Saturday, I reinforced some small gaps I saw. This morning I went out and another hen was dead. The only place I can see where the predator is getting in is through the gap between the top of the coop and the barn rafters (my coop is part of a barn and not free standing). I live in Illinois southeast of St. Louis. Is it possible that fox are getting in through the gap in the rafters? I saw a red fox in our front yard about 2 weeks ago. I plan on fencing that off tonight, setting a live trap and saying a prayer. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. I know there are short-term solutions (i.e. shot gun), but I need to figure this out because if not, it's going to happen every year around this time. I'm sick about losing my girls. Thanks in advance. sad Chickengirl64.
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,948
27,445
1,077
St. Louis, MO
Possible but more likely raccoon, possum, weasel.
I'm in St. Louis. I've been cursed with mink this last year. First time with mink problems after family has raised chickens around here off and on for 140 years.
 

Chickengirl64

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 23, 2014
32
11
24
Do Roosters help? I don't have one, don't really want one, but I don't like what's happening to my flock. I hope this latest round of reinforcement works but if it doesn't, then I'm at a loss.
 
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Chickengirl64

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 23, 2014
32
11
24
We have raccoon in the area as well - we think that's what's eating the cat food that's in the barn.
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
15,040
821
Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
If it's climbing in, my guess would be raccoon.

X 2 - wiring off that space will likely solve your problem, but be sure to use good, strong materiel as a culprit that has grown accustomed to the free meal will be doubly motivated to try to thwart attempts to keep it out.
I had a similar surprise with my coop when we encountered a raccoon in the hen house one day. Luckily, no birds were even targeted - he was happy with eggs - but it was an example of how looking at things from our perspective rather than that of the predator we can underestimate their ability to get in. In our case it was the gap at the front of the coop. Our coop is also part of a barn and the gap was at the front (tall) side of the barn, a good 16 feet up. In my initial planning I had viewed this as an unlikely entrance due to being at the top of a sheer, high face. What I failed to account for was the run on the other side of the coop (the back) which allowed the raccoon to go up the side of the run, across the top of the run, onto the barn roof, up that to the front of the barn and then some acrobatics to swing over the overhang and back into the ridiculously small gap that was there. My 13 year old son arrived home from school and went to do chores - and was nearly on top of the darn thing before he realized it was there (hiding in a corner behind the chicken feeder, with an egg in it's paws) - fortunately, he was able to move away before it felt threatened enough to get aggressive and he was able to grab a broom (only "weapon" he had within reach) and shoe it out as it had since moved between him and the door. All in all, pretty impressive execution by the raccoon when you think about it - but not at all appreciated by myself or my birds. I thanked my lucky stars that I only lost a few eggs.
Do Roosters help? I don't have one, don't really want one, but I don't like what's happening to my flock. I hope this latest round of reinforcement works but if it doesn't, then I'm at a loss.

All a rooster would do in a situation where the birds are cooped and a predator is in the coop is add to the potential victims.
 

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