unknown predator? disapearing chickens!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by folly foot, Oct 29, 2016.

  1. folly foot

    folly foot Out Of The Brooder

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    It has just recently happened... our hens are free range around our property (which has lots of trees and hiding spots for our bird) we have never had a problem with our chickens not coming back to the coop at night... the other day one of our older girls didn't come home... we thought that maybe she had wandered too far and would be home in the morning... but she never came back that was a week ago and now two of out babies have disapeared without a trace.. my dad is afraid of losing more birds so since it's getting colder they have been staying in their coop so my dad is try to discourage the predator by keeping them inside for a bit (they have lots of space to run around in their coop it's 12ft by 8ft and we don't have to many birds.... we have tried setting traps but the problem with that is chickens are very curious.... we learned that the hard way (one of them got hurt) so we rethought our plan and took the traps away.... but something at night keeps trying to get into their coop.... it hits the door pretty hard but when we have gone out to check it just disapear without a trace (no footprints or anything only claw marks in the dirt)What should we do??? Everything we have tried hasn't helped us so far
     
  2. minihorse927

    minihorse927 Whipper snapper Premium Member

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    If you can get a trail cam to put on the coop overnight to try to figure out what it is would be very helpful. That way you know what you are dealing with.


    Have you found anything left of the missing birds? Feathers or parts?
     
  3. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Where about are you located? I need to know this to have an idea of what predators are in your area - makes a difference if you're in Florida as opposed to Alaska. What exactly do you mean when you say it hits the door pretty hard? Have you found any footprints and if so what do they look like? Pictures would be helpful. Also what kind of traps did you set? You should be setting the traps in the predator's approach rather than anywhere near the chickens' area of activity - that's a recipe for disaster as you'll only catch non-target animals like it sounds like ya did. Trapping predators is relatively easy once you've figured out your target's routine and travel routes but if you've never done it before it can take a while to learn. Once we figure out what the target is we can help devise a plan but setting traps without knowing is a shot in the dark. For example, a Sleepy Creek 1 1/2 jaw trap will work wonders for fox and smaller western coyotes but it's way too small for adult eastern coyotes. So anyway, not to pound you with questions but it's necessary if trapping is the objective.

    If trapping might be too complicated I'd suggest securing your birds. Maybe you can build a secure run for them. I don't live in a rural area per se but I have a ton of predators in my area. As a result I don't let my birds free range.
     
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  4. RareAvis

    RareAvis Out Of The Brooder

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    I concur: region is necessary to help determine critter-culprit.


    Suggestions:


    Can you set out quick-drying plaster mixed with mud in a place where critter-culprit would need to cross to get to chickens? If you spread old leaves, mulch, or sand down first, these casts are very easy to lift. Should be quite facile, in any case. Footprints would tell you immediately what you have. Mixed with mud, this will not hurt the critter nor trap him, but should mask it enough that they'd step in it, just like mud. This will leave tracks behind, however: GOOD.


    Damage or clawmarks may tell you, too: height? Distinguishing features? Nail spacing? Etc: clues?



    Pretty much? Guess predator carnivore: Canid, likely. Fisher, mustelid? Cat, felidae? Domestic? Possible. Any new neighbors with dogs? Feral? maybe. Wild? Likely. Bear? Possible. Skunk? Racoon? Hungry Ghost?



    Nocturnal activity gives clues, too.


    But? Could be a sneaky Bigfoot, for the info currently available...


    Do you have a go pro?

    An extra computer or phone to set up to film near a motion activated light source?



    I think? Tracks are easiest.


    ...



    Regardless of what it is?


    Might you make a plan of attack now, that perhaps incorporates strategies for dealing with whatever it turns out to be?


    Good luck; I'll be following thread to evaluate additional clues and to learn from others and to see how you fare.


    Be well,


    ~RA
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  5. hensareus

    hensareus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    University of Oklahoma has great online table. You answer the questions u have answers for and it gives u list of predators. We live in same type of area. My problem was weasel but I had corpse. If you don't likely suspects are dog, fox, coyote- something big enough to carry them away from area.
     
  6. folly foot

    folly foot Out Of The Brooder

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    I live in ontario, the area where we are we mainly have coyotes and deer that's it really... and hawks but our chickens are larger than the hawks here... we have no corpses or even signs of a struggle
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  7. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you near a stream or any bodies of water? Just asking because it'll mean you likely have coons in the area. Also can you rule out a black bear? Bears can be a serious problem and are hard to secure against. If you're pretty sure it's not a bear that would narrow it down to probably fox, coyote, weasel, mink, or coon. Unfortunately they all require different size traps and different sets so we'all need to narrow it down more. Rare Avis has some good points about the trail cam and making a place around the coop that's conducive to foot prints. Or if you have the time you might even stake the backyard out tonight and see what you see. But either way we'll need more evidence to make a good recommendation. In the meantime I'd secure the coop as best you can.
     
  8. folly foot

    folly foot Out Of The Brooder

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    We are near a river.. I guess I didn't take coons into account and since the ground is already partially frozen here there isn't much of a chance for looking at footprints. But one thing to take into account is there is no evidence, nothing, no sign of a struggle or even left behind feathers which is weird in my opinion. We have looked over the entire property especially near the river but there are no predatory foot prints in the bank only birds and deer prints.
     
  9. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The tracks are there somewhere. Everything leaves signs when they pass through an area. If you can't find anything yet don't fret, you'll find out what it is sooner or later. It's also possible it's a two-legged predator. That would explain not finding any animal tracks or remains like feathers. Don't rule that out. Anyway I'd either set up a trail cam or stake out the yard at night. I think the trail cam is the best bet since it's on guard even when you're away.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Something big enough to grab and kill fast with no feather loosening struggle and carry away.
    Take a pic of claw marks in dirt, with a ruler in pic for scale.
    Leave them locked up for sure.
     

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