We lost 10 and 8 more were injured. What did this?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Illinois_ Kelly, Sep 13, 2007.

  1. Illinois_ Kelly

    Illinois_ Kelly Songster

    Sep 13, 2007
    Marion, Illinois
    Today I let my "pet" chickens out to free-range, 50 hens and 5 roosters, like I always do. They were enjoying themselves so much, and we've never had a problem before, so we left them out while we went to dinner. I knew I'd be back in about an hour and a half (which was right at dusk) to close them up so I wasn't all that worried. I should have known better! When we arrived home at dark we found that our yard had been turned into a slaughter house. There were feathers and hens, some dead and some alive, everywhere. They were in the front, in the back, on the side.... all over the place. These are my babies, most of them had names, so I just about lost it. I began running around trying to see which ones were still alive, how many were dead, how many were missing and how many were in the coop on the roost. We spent nearly 2 hours, in the dark, combing the 3 acres of yard that surrounds my house. Many of them were smart enough to hide in the tall grassy areas and remained untouched. Some had been able to make it to the coop and were absolutely fine. The massacre left behind 4 missing hens, 1 missing rooster, 5 hens accounted for but dead, 1 rooster and 7 hens injured and approximately 15 hens seem "shocky" and understandably out of sorts.

    This reign of terror seemed to take place entirely out in the yard. No sign of any feathers flying or hen remains inside the coop. Most of the damage was bite marks and rips located on the rear and legs of the birds. The area we found them in was about 150 x 300 and they were scattered about. You should know that my 3 acre yard is backed by 50 acres of woods. I think this was most likely fox or coyote since they tend to wipe out many and only take a few. Do any of you have any thoughts on this? I'm devastated and feel so guilty for not protecting them.
  2. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    Oh Kelly...I am soooo very sorry. Dont blame yourself. WHATEVER did this....would have done it if you was there or not. Sounds like a Dog...or maybe a few dogs. They ten to chace to kill, then move to another. I hope the others heal well.....just remember, clean the wounds well, and antibiotic cream...I would keep them ALL inside for a few days, to recover from the trauma. Again, I am so very sorry.
  3. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    Sorry about your chickens! We had the same thing happen before. They got 43 out of 65 in 1 night!!!!! It does sound like dogs did it. That's exactly what happened to mine and it was 3 dogs.
  4. Rafter 7 Paint Horses

    Rafter 7 Paint Horses Songster

    Jan 13, 2007
    East Texas
    Sorry about your chickens.

    I agree with KristenH, it sounds like dogs. Are there any dogs that run loose where you are?

  5. Illinois_ Kelly

    Illinois_ Kelly Songster

    Sep 13, 2007
    Marion, Illinois
    No, the only big dogs in the area are used to chickens. Their owner has about 75 chickens that are in the same fenced in area as the dogs. The only other dogs are 4 little daschunds and they are kept in a pen. The bite marks were large too so that ruled out a small dog. I guess given coyotes travel in a similar way and kill similarly, I thought it was more likely than not that they were the culprits. If the dog scenario were a possibility, I'd be thinking that too.

    Thanks for all the kind words. It is so heart-wrenching to lose them. Most people just look at me like I'm a nut when I talk about our chickens. It's nice to know that others realize what wonderful family pets they can be.
  6. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon

    Jan 27, 2007
    Illinois Kelly, ours have names as well. Glad you have survivors.

    Since you're relatively sure it wasn't dogs, I'd probably guess foxes, given the general window of time when the attack occurred. But every location is different and the preds `normal' behavior can only be defined as: `when can I safely get the food'.

    If it is a fox or coyote it will probably be trying again in the next several days (foxes cache their kill so you might consider walking through the wood line - piles of feathers in one location will rule out coyotes). Kill pattern can also be tricky: Our neighbor's thirteen Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets were out for their first day in the yard, neighbor went in to cut up treats for them and emerged fifteen minutes later to see a fox running off into the trees. Not a feather in the yard and no sign of any of the Wy's. I found seven piles of feathers under one cedar and five piles under another about ten yards away, two days after the attack. However, a duck massacre last winter at the pond of an adjacent neighbor was a bloody mess with feathers and bodies strewn about (fox was shot carrying off a single duck head).

    Guess the only way to be safe is to stick to supervised free ranging and get some leg hold traps (not that much trouble to work with).

    I've been using everything from poison to deadfalls (along with lead and legholds) here in Cent. MO. as the fox situation is pestilential (shot one yesterday and one this evening - fifteen for the year). Have only taken two coyotes and both of those were trapped between midnight and six A.M.

    Sure wish you the best of luck harvesting the vermin, and hope your injured recover.
  7. Happyhenz

    Happyhenz Songster

    Aug 15, 2007
    Canberra Australia
    I think your culprit is the Dachies acually.
    I owned these little buggers and they sure made a mess out of 50 ex battery hens on my parents place in about 2 days.
    Anything that was killing for food wouldnt have l;eft all the dead ones around .
    So i would take a walk to the neighbours house and see if their little weiners have very full tums and scratches [​IMG]
  8. nccatnip

    nccatnip Songster

    Aug 5, 2007
    Piedmont area NC
    I would vote for a stray dog. You may have one dumped or wandered in your area. i would think a fox would just kill and take it's meal, I do not think they kill for fun.
  9. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    I am soo sorry for your losses...
    Still sounds like a pack of dogs.
    Coyotes and foxes will take their food to go, not just leave bodies all over..
  10. hinkjc

    hinkjc Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    I'm very sorry for what you experienced. This is one of the major challenges in free ranging flocks. I have to agree with coyote or fox, since you say it's unlikely that any dogs in the neighborhood would have done this. Coyote and fox will hunt in packs and alone. They will leave their prey scattered and carry off what they can. They come back for more as they need them (especially for small groups or single predators). They will do this kind of damage in a short amount of time and you may very well have arrived as it was in progress, which was enough to scare whatever it was away for the moment.

    I agree to give the flock a couple days inside and try to keep them quiet/calm. This is very traumatic for them (even the uninjured). I would keep a close eye at dusk over the couple days to see if the predator returns looking to 'clean up'.

    FYI - some states will reimburse you for losses for coyote attacks, so you may want to look into that for replacements if you're interested.


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