Unknown hen killer?!?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Ariana Martinez, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. Ariana Martinez

    Ariana Martinez In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2013
    So this morning I woke up around 7:15 and I looked outside my window and looked at the coop like I do every morning. And all the chickens were out and watching the house waiting for me to come out and feed them, I noticed a black thing on the corner of the coop and I didn't think anything of it due to different things that are always scattered around the yard and around the coop. So I got my coat and boots on and scooped some feed and walked outside over to the chickens. I soon realized the black object was my black hen Ginger, she had been half eaten with her chest tore open and her neck completely eaten. I counted the heads of the rest of my flock and all were there and un injured. It was a grusome and sad sight for me as I love each and every one of my chickens as if they were a pet dog or cat. The matching black hen Pepper stood and looked at her dead friend, along with the rest of my flock. My coop is about 14 by 10 feet with the 10 foot house boardering one side. It is fenced with cattle panels and layered with chicken wire. There were pieces of it ripped and torn like the preadator tried to get in. My hen house Is just a make shift house I came up with with extra wood and metal around my farm. There was a weak spot only covered with a tarp where I would look in and check on them and hang there water, and that whole piece was ripped off. There were no tracks but I had a small line of Christmas lights to light the house up and all those were tore down and the heat lamp was unplugged and had 2 huge dents in it. The coop does not have a top and I don't lock them up at night but they all retreat to the house really early. I've seen a few bobcats around my property and I've had problems with thirlefing raccoons before but I had moved the coop slot closer to the house and about 5 yards away from my bedroom window. I did not hear a thing lady's night and I'm pretty sure my chickens made slot of noise and were pretty traumatized. What is weird is that the animal didn't finish it's meal and ate on the chicken while it was still on the coop. Does anyone know what kind of animal you think it was, or could be. And I have 2 guard dogs that are always killing intruders. Thanks for reading:)
  2. GreenSahara

    GreenSahara In the Brooder

    Dec 8, 2013
    I have seen similar damage done to my chickens and I found out that it was a fox. Is it possible that it is a neighboring dog?
  3. MnMudSlinger

    MnMudSlinger Hatching

    Dec 19, 2013
    What part of the country do you live in and what predators are native to your area? The neighbor's pet cat or dog might be suspect. Don't forget about birds of prey. Here in Minnesota we have ermine (weasels), red & gray fox, coyotes, racoons, fishers, wolves, eagles, hawks and owls to worry about. Stray dogs and cats are always a concern too. The fact that your hen wasn't carried away would suggest that you either scared the killer away before it could take your bird with it, or that the predator was too small to carry it very far. Pets dogs and cats may kill due to instinct but not for a needed source of food so they might leave the hen laying there too.

    Good luck, hoping it doesn't happen again!!!
  4. Ariana Martinez

    Ariana Martinez In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2013
    I live in the heart of oklahoma and have bobcats coyotes hawks owls raccoons and (bears which are not in my area) I have had problems with raccoons but they would only steal eggs. And that was before I moved the coop. I doubt it was a coyote or a dog. There was a bit of blood in the hen house the predator would have gone into the house and took her out into the pen and feasted on her, but did not finish her. I know for a fact it wasn't my dogs or cats they all get along with one another. And I personally think it was most likely a bob cat. I've seen a black one twice around here and my 2 loose dogs chased it up a tree and than into the woods. I never saw it again after that, and my coop is about 6 yards away from a deep creek surrounded by a wooded area. I have critters visiting all the time from possums in the garage , skunks teasing the dogs, owls in the house, squirrels fighting on the roof, anardillos digging holes, raccoons invading during barbecues, and loose cows tearing up the yard and breaking fences and my cat was also attacked but was not killed by whatever killed my hen. I am planning on rebuilding the run tomorrow but for the night me and my step dad have tied all the wire down and fixed just about every hole in the fence and house. If I get another chicken/animal killed it will be the end of that predator.
  5. Cackle Chicken

    Cackle Chicken Hatching

    Dec 22, 2013
    Upstate of SC
    Try putting a webcam or some sort of game camera where you can watch it or tape it and find out how and what is getting your chickens. When I lived in Edmond OK, I had chickens and I think a possum kept getting mine. I supposed it could have been just about anything, if I had the technology to find out way back then I would have! I think if you know what it is, you can figure out how to stop it.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Not all predators read the manual and do what they are supposed to but that is often the best clues you have. Things that normally go for the head first are raccoons, bobcats, skunks, and birds of prey. Members of the weasel family will too but they are more likely to kill several, not just one. I think you can rule out birds of prey. Bobcats often carry off their prey or try to bury it. Skunks probably won’t do that much damage and they usually maul the body pretty badly. From what you describe it really sounds like a raccoon to me but it’s hard to totally rule out much of anything.

    Can you see any tracks or poop the predator left behind? Did you examine the carcass for claw marks or punctures? Those can be big clues. You can maybe rake a bare spot of ground or spread some flour for it to step in to try to get a clear print, but from what you describe you probably have many different things prowling around there at night, even with your dogs. I’ve set my trap expecting one thing and caught something else a few times.
  7. Ariana Martinez

    Ariana Martinez In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2013
    I thankfully didn't lose any chickens lasts night, I barrely got any sleep and got up several times and banged a stick and an empty jug of milk around to scare away anything that hears it. There were no foot prints what so ever and there was a small amount of feathers and flesh on one side of the coop when I discovered my dead hen. There was a small tear in the wire and claw marks but that's the only thing I've seen. The hen was one of the biggest hens out of the flock and was a healthy bird, I'm started to believe it was most likely a raccoon that killed her. I'm going to borrow a tree cam and see what happens.
  8. There was a weak place and that is were the varmint gained access. This is a case of a varmint having the time and opportunity to reconnoiter your defenses and find a weak spot to attack.

    If the best defense is a good offense then keep a coon trap and maybe an electric fence around your coop.
  9. Ariana Martinez

    Ariana Martinez In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2013
    Well I just had a hen attacked and taken from the coop, my white hen snowflake is injured and my big roosters had a bite or scratch on his leg. It happened between 8:00pm 12/31/13 and 12:00am 1/1/14. My stepdad came out and told me my young road island red rooster was walking around the side of the house. I went outside and instantly new that something had broken into the coop again.[​IMG] so I carried him over and there were white feathers scattered around the coop. I put the rooster inside and ran into the house to tell the adults who came out and inspected the area, coop with me. It was dark out so we used flash lights, I got into the coop with my little sister and counted all the chickens. We thought we had 2 of my smallest hens Nugget and Ruby gone but my large rooster was practically sitting on them under the heating lamp. Everyone was on one side of the coop under the light. I didn't notice at the moment that my little precious black hen Pepper aka Limpy hen.( she's always had a limp) was gone. My little white hens back tail feathers was poking from the nesting box and wasn't moving. My little sister opened it from the other side and thankfully she was alive, her feathers were all over the coop. She was bleeding on her thigh but it wasn't to bad. I soon did realize that Pepper was gone. And there were a handful of her black feathers laying in the house.[​IMG] I'v lost Pepper and her twin hen Ginger within I think 3 weeks, after I lost Ginger I kept the spotlight on the back of the house that over looked the pool on and kept my window open a bit and banged a empty jug of milk and a stick together and made lots of noise to scare off anything that heard it( and it kept them away). I am re doing and predator proofing the coop tomorrow, I'm going to set a deer cam up, and get a trap and my step dad is getting amo for his gun. I'm also thinking of getting maybe 2 guinea fowl. I heard that they will sound an alarm when a predator comes near. Is that true? It saddens me and my family a lot to loose 2 chickens to a predator, although neither of them layed they were great hens and were our pets. I'm thinking it was either a raccoon, just maybe a bob cat, idk about weasels, and I'm alittle suspicious about my dog Baby, she's killed nabor chickens but never offered to touch mine. EVER. But recently I gave some left over food to the chickens and found Baby sitting IN the coop and had eaten the scraps of food and had no idea how to get back out and was just sitting waiting for me to come out and get her. I really don't think it was her. If you have any suggestions on what I can do to ward off this animal. The only way we won't kill it is if we trap it and relocate it, other than that my step dads wanting to shoot it.
  10. Triple Willow

    Triple Willow Songster

    Mar 1, 2013
    Ariana dear, you will never be able to keep chickens unless you build a safe coop and run for them to live in. Most all predators will easily tear through light weight wire, tarps and even fiberglass. Most predators can also climb a fence to get to your birds. You really need to read about how to build a safe coop AND run for your birds or be prepared to lose each and every one of them. That's just how it is. Cats, dogs and wild predators love to kill chickens even if they don't want to eat them.

    Probably the safest and least expensive coop and run would be a "hoop coop".

    Here is one made into a greenhouse:

    The only thing you need to do really different is cover the cattle panels with either hardware cloth or 2X4 inch welded wire then cover that with a tarp. Don't use "chicken wire". You can build this for about $200.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by