this one has me confused! adults and chicks killed

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by sugarjax06, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. sugarjax06

    sugarjax06 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2010
    Lancaster, CA
    We lost 2 birds last night/this morning plus 8 chicks.
    These 2 likely came out of the coop early in the morning before I got out there so they were exposed to predators(everyone else was still in the run unhurt and we will be fixing that gap today)
    bird #1 Teenage SLW completely eaten except for a string of intestines and feathers about 20 feet from the coop
    bird #2 Adult production red killed, only the head and neck missing, the body was completely untouched

    So that leads me to think dog or coyote. We had nearly our entire flock taken down by a similar situation 1.5 months ago - some eaten, some killed, some missing

    Here is the confusing part - the chicks!
    Chicks - enclosed in a dog run with a covered roof, bottom half is further protected with chicken wire so that babies can't get in and out. No signs of digging under the fence, or the fence being damaged in anyway. Just a momma hen calling to her babies to come eat and no one is coming. There are older chicks (about a month old) in this enclosure who are all still fine. Most likely the smaller chicks were outside and the older ones safe inside their little coop.

    What eats a chicken on site, kills and eats a head yet can get tiny chicks out of a protected run without a trace?
     
  2. whobody

    whobody New Egg

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    Jun 19, 2011
    Sorry for your lose, its very frustrating to not be able to put a finger on what is causing your problem. I am presently having a similar problem with my chickens which are about 7 weeks old. Had 2 killed today between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. My run is fully enclosed with 2x4 mesh on the outside and chicken wire on the inside of 4x4 posts, with the top covered in wire. I found what was left of one outside the run and the other minus the head between the 2 fences. I'm thinking a weasel since it had to get through the fence to get to the chickens and the inside chicken wire is only 2 feet high. Presently trying to talk with folks here to come up with a solution, good luck with yours.
     
  3. sugarjax06

    sugarjax06 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2010
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    Sorry about those little chickies of yours. We live in the desert so I don't think it could be weasels. I have never seen a racoon here either. Coyotes, ravens, and hawks have been our biggest threat but I'm not seeing how this one is any of those 3?

    It seems more likely that a human chick snatcher came by - but that doesn't make sense cause they could have taken many more chicks if that were the case. [​IMG] My husband and I just came from outside, standing inside the run, scratching our heads? What in the world?! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  4. epeloquin

    epeloquin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are there any spots in the chicken wire where something might have pulled the chicks through? My father in law had a black bear get hold of his grown chickens and partly pull them through the fencing. He foound them half pulled through and half eaten.
     
  5. sugarjax06

    sugarjax06 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2010
    Lancaster, CA
    Nope! I double....triple checked all the wiring because I fully expected to find a break in it once I saw the chicks gone. None of the chicks were left behind or any remnants (they were only one bite) and I checked the yard in case the creature dragged some away but didn't find any bodies.
     
  6. Hot2Pot

    Hot2Pot Fox Hollow Rabbitry

    Feb 1, 2010
    West TN
    Sorry about your chickens:'( If I were you, I would run a solid board along the bottom of the run on the sides. Young birds often sleep near the side of a wire run and are easily snatched through chicken wire. It really doesn't matter what the predator is, you need to make both the coop and run predator proof. I had a hawk kill one hen, it ate her head and neck plus dragged her guts out. Sorry it sounds awful and it is. Even a snake could have eaten the chicks, you may even have more than one predator at work. I have come to the conclusion , if you want live chickens, keep them locked up. Hardware cloth is much better than chicken wire at keeping out critters. Good luck .
     
  7. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

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    Answer to your question... "What eats a chicken on site, kills and eats a head yet can get tiny chicks out of a protected run without a trace?"

    Coon,cat, possum, weasel, rat, snake or a combination thereof

    Please understand something, and do not take it personally, your run is not protected, chicken wire is useless. Its only purpose is keeping chickens in, any predator can breach it from a rat to a possum to a fox to a coyote. Do yourself a favor and use hardwire cloth 1/2" and bury it out and away from your run...to stop digging predators, cover all opening in the coop with it or at a minimum, run a very hot wire around the entire perimeter top and bottom. The predator will be back as long as there are birds there and you will lose birds as long as there is a way for them to get at the birds.


    Do no think human chick snatcher until you get rid of that chicken wire replace with hardwire cloth and then lose some...a raccoon can easily pull a chick through and never leave a trace..they will pull a full grown bird through it and that is not a pretty sight. They have as good of dexterity as most humans. A weasel is possible but less likely look for a coon.

    I am sorry for your loss.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  8. nurse_turtle

    nurse_turtle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Raccoons LOVE chicken heads. If I was a bettin' woman, I bet coon! Consider setting a live catch trap and bait with something stinky like sardines (although a hotdog worked for us) then check each morning.

    Good Luck!
     
  9. sugarjax06

    sugarjax06 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2010
    Lancaster, CA
    Cetawin- No offense taken! We've used hardwire cloth for everything else - these little guys do have a coop to go into but they hadn't learned how to go up the ramp. My husband had been going out every night and moving mama and chicks into the coop with the older chicks but when he went out this time...mama was in the coop, on the ramp so he assumed that the chicks were under her. He thought it was weird. So either, they had already been snatched by 10:30pm (and there were a ton of people outside next door - kids loudly playing hid and seek lol) or they came out from under her at some point to go down the ramp. Thanks for the list of possible chicken snatchers - i have never seen a coon, opossum, weasel or rat since moving here 3 years ago but that doesn't mean they aren't here. I've never personally seen a snake but I definitely know they are here. I have seen cats but the snake wouldn't have killed the adult birds in that fasion and a cat would have most likely only gone for the meaty parts - 'it' ate the skull and legs too! So it seems from your list, there are hidden predators in this area?!

    Oh and the people snatching thing - that was a joke![​IMG] I'm very confident it was a predator.

    nurse_turtle - Do you rent live traps or have to buy them? Racoons couldn't have been the ones that killed the whole adult flock last month, could they? Bodies were all over the yard, some eaten, some killed for fun, some gone?

    Thank you all for talking through this with me! Ultimately, I want to stop losing chickens and chicks! They are free ranging during the day but that doesn't seem to be out problem right now so I do want to protect them [​IMG] Did I mention they were silkie babies? The most helpless creatures! LOL
     
  10. Hot2Pot

    Hot2Pot Fox Hollow Rabbitry

    Feb 1, 2010
    West TN
    You might as well buy a trap, they are not all that expensive. Dead birds all over like you described is likely the work of a dog.
     

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