Urgent! Hen Killed Overnight


9 Years
Mar 2, 2010
Hello All,
I am new to this forum and somewhat new to raising a backyard flock. We have a small flock of about 10 chickens (all mixed) that are free ranged on our small farm. The entire flock roosts in a tree in our horse paddock. Until last night, we have never had any issues with losing a bird.
This morning, I noticed one of my favorite hens, Wilimina, was dead underneath their roosting tree. Her neck was completely eaten away, from the base of her skull to her breastbone. No other part of her was gone. It appears whatever killed her got her in the tree and killed her beneath.
What could have gotten her? We live down in a wooded area, so my first thought is an owl. But, dont they usually take their prey off?

Please excuse my ignorance, I only want to provide what is best and safest for my birds. I feel horrible about this.
Any suggestions, remedies, etc. would be deeply appreciated.
Dallas, NC
Sounds like an owl. They will cut the neck and only remove the head with them leaving the remainder of the body. saladin
So sorry for your loss!

Sounds like a possum to me. You are right, an owl would carry her away. A raccoon also, I think drags them away. There are many more on this site with more experience than me, though. Maybe one of them can help you. Whatever it was will probably return now that it knows it has easy food, so you might want to think about a coop at night.
Owls generally do not carry the whole chicken away: only the head.

Opossums generally eat the entire bird.

Coons kill just to kill. saladin
I was going to say raccoon. Do they roost in the trees at night? If so, your best bet is to provide them with a predator proof coop. That's really the only way to keep them safe at night. So sorry this happened to your hen.
I was thinking hawk also. A hawk wouldve had to do it at after sunrise though,not during the night. There's so many predators that couldve done this. I totally agree with chickensioux, you need to build a predator proof coop and house.
Thanks to everyone who has suggested the cause/killer of my hen. I have taken barbed wire and wrapped it around the trunk of their roosting tree for about 4 feet off the ground. I am also putting a flashing light near the tree along with an owl decoy.
My whole flock is sad, as am I. I wish I could coop them, but they are used to being free range and I honestly dont think I could catch them all.
I will keep a window partially open tonight so that if any of them start to alert call I will hear them (I am usually quite a light sleeper)
Thanks again to all.

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