What attacked my chicks?!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by SomisChickens, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. SomisChickens

    SomisChickens Just Hatched

    Mar 15, 2016
    Somis, CA
    Today was the first day that my 4 to 8 week old chickens were put out in the run together.
    The 8 week old chickens have been put out there with no problem.
    When my fiancé came home today after the chickens had been outside for 5 hours, three of the chickens had been killed. Two of the 4 week old chickens were bit in the neck and wings, and the third eight week old had been partially eaten and the predator had tried to drag it into the hole.
    The predators tunnel was discovered once the chicken coop was lifted up.
    The run had three feet of hardware cloth, with 1 foot of hardware cloth buried in the ground and 2 feet attached to the chain-link fence above ground.
    Aside from burying hardware cloth along the flooring of the run, are there any other tips or ideas of what attacked my chickens?
    Sara (Southern California)
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Well, the tunnel is probably from a gopher. But lots of chicken eating critters use gopher tunnels, so it could be quite a few things. Rats, skunks, ferrets, and weasels will all take advantage of a gopher's hard work.
    You may have to some sort of wire fencing along the run floor.
  3. bigoledude

    bigoledude Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2011
    SE, Louisiana
    Get more hardware cloth. Stretch it out along the length and width of your enclosures. Bend it into a "L" shape. Securely fasten the vertical portion to your coop or existing fencing. Now, the other half of the bent wire is running parallel to the ground. It's best to bury this portion a few inches underground. The premise is, the animals have no idea that they would have to back up a few feet to tunnel under this layer of wire.

    I have never read here where a predator circumvented this strategy.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Not sure what to suggest as a solution but....
    .....I wonder where the other end of that hole is, stick the garden hose down there and turn on full blast, watch for where the water comes out.
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Sounds like my experience with a weasel. Little bite marks on the neck or just under the wing.
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I go with weasel too. Hard one to stop as short tailed can easily fit through 1 inch holes and I just learned of the least weasel. Wow! What a scary little monster that is. Chicks are certainly not safe if you've got those around. They can squeeze into 1/4 inch. Tiny little killer that keys in on mice and such but small chicks wouldn't be passed up.

    The gig with weasels is primarily they are night time predators. If your coop does not have a floor then put one in, hardware cloth would be good. Also cover all holes in coop with hardware cloth. As for a dig proof apron they should be 18 to 24 finches out from run wall. It's not going to stop rats and such getting in but that's what bait traps and proper food storage are about. Weasels will use rat tunnels.Easiest way to install an apron is to lay flat with stakes from run wall out and let grass grow through or you can lift the sod, put down wire and replace sod. Have the apron jjust under run wall and make sure to connect at corners. Two sides need to be longer than run wall for full circumference.

    Here's a good link to poultry predators:


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