Started with 29...End Up with 8 Overnight

faberge_legs

Hatching
Jun 1, 2020
2
1
6
Well, as you can read from the title, I've lost over 70% of my baby chicks overnight. I'm very distraught as this is my first time raising and handling them, and everything was going smoothly for the first 6 weeks up until their disappearance. We live in the suburbs of Northern California, very close to a business district.

They were about the size of an African Grey parrot. One was very attached to me and always came running towards me, letting me hold and pet it whenever I came out to feed and change water for them.

The coop itself is very secure, structurally. We have a fence inside the coop where we separate the adult chickens from the chicks. The adult chickens are fine and none are missing.

I am not sure which predator was able to:

1) Dig a small hole
2) Jump a 4 ft fence inside the coop
3) Steal 20 chicks with no trace

We have cats and snakes out here, but what kind of predator is able to grab all 20 parrot-sized chicks and run off successfully? Ideally I hope maybe they've just decided to escape and walk away, but that seems unlikely. As far as I'm aware, we do not have foxes, minks, or weasels out here.
 

Dephora

Songster
Apr 30, 2020
268
310
141
Southern Oregon
Have any neighbors that can get into the coop? Just seems strange the round number. No blood either so I would think that many may be they got stolen. Those 8 may just be the ones they could not grab. 20 just seems like alot to lose in one night to a single animal without any signs.
 
Last edited:

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,704
32,294
1,092
On the MN prairie.
I think you'd be surprised at the number of predators that you don't see out there. My first thought would be mink. They kill older chickens on the spot, but a neighbor had one carry her chickens off before she caught it. Your predator may have climbed the fence, rather than jumping over it. Raccoons would do that. So would mink or fox. A fox wouldn't need a very big hole to get in, either. As I think about it, a fox would be more likely to dig a hole and climb the fence. Maybe a skunk. There are a number of possibilities.
 

amyjerelle

Hatching
Jun 1, 2020
3
1
3
Well, as you can read from the title, I've lost over 70% of my baby chicks overnight. I'm very distraught as this is my first time raising and handling them, and everything was going smoothly for the first 6 weeks up until their disappearance. We live in the suburbs of Northern California, very close to a business district.

They were about the size of an African Grey parrot. One was very attached to me and always came running towards me, letting me hold and pet it whenever I came out to feed and change water for them.

The coop itself is very secure, structurally. We have a fence inside the coop where we separate the adult chickens from the chicks. The adult chickens are fine and none are missing.

I am not sure which predator was able to:

1) Dig a small hole
2) Jump a 4 ft fence inside the coop
3) Steal 20 chicks with no trace

We have cats and snakes out here, but what kind of predator is able to grab all 20 parrot-sized chicks and run off successfully? Ideally I hope maybe they've just decided to escape and walk away, but that seems unlikely. As far as I'm aware, we do not have foxes, minks, or weasels out here.
 

amyjerelle

Hatching
Jun 1, 2020
3
1
3
That is so sad! I’m so sorry! Are there raccoons in your area? They are very capable of getting into secure places and taking many birds without leaving much evidence behind.
 

faberge_legs

Hatching
Jun 1, 2020
2
1
6
Hi everybody, thanks so much for your feedback!

We've deduced that it is most likely the colony of feral cats in the neighborhood. I've just managed to chase one away this afternoon, and looked around the area and found a few small down feathers scattered around.

I'm devastated, but it is my fault. I found a poorly-dug hole under the fence, which doesn't look to be very deep at all but barely enough for a cat to slip through. I can't imagine how scared they were, and they took my favorite and most affectionate one :hit
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,704
32,294
1,092
On the MN prairie.
What will help is to put some hardware cloth on the ground around the bottom of your fence. You can cover it with dirt, and it will discourage digging. To stop the climbers, you can put an electric wire around your coop. Ours is attached to the wooden posts that hold the fence up. You don't want your wire touching your metal fence or the ground, and you need to keep the weeds down around it, but it does keep the critters at bay.
 

Dephora

Songster
Apr 30, 2020
268
310
141
Southern Oregon
Hi everybody, thanks so much for your feedback!

We've deduced that it is most likely the colony of feral cats in the neighborhood. I've just managed to chase one away this afternoon, and looked around the area and found a few small down feathers scattered around.

I'm devastated, but it is my fault. I found a poorly-dug hole under the fence, which doesn't look to be very deep at all but barely enough for a cat to slip through. I can't imagine how scared they were, and they took my favorite and most affectionate one :hit

So sorry to hear that. Makes sense it would be animals that sometimes hunt for the pleasure though they may never really eat their kill, considering the number in one night. I was part of a natives bird club for many years and we had a huge problem in our area with cats killing endangered native migratory birds. Every year the number dropped lower and lower of birds in our area due to domesticated cats just doing what their urges tell them. Can't really blame them can you? They do what they do.

Sad to say we eventually got a huge coyote boom and the number of domesticated cats dropped and the birds came back after a few years. 😳
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
95,243
126,330
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
1) Dig a small hole
2) Jump a 4 ft fence inside the coop
3) Steal 20 chicks with no trace
The coop itself is very secure, structurally.
This happened overnight?
How did the pred get inside the coop?
I'm assuming the run has the 4' fence and the chicks were locked inside the secure coop.


What will help is to put some hardware cloth on the ground around the bottom of your fence. You can cover it with dirt, and it will discourage digging.
Good examples of anti-dig apron installation.
If rodents are prolific, burying the apron ~12" would be good.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/wire-around-coop.1110498/#post-17093528
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/new-coop-project.1169916/page-2#post-18481208
 

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