What can pull a 6.5 week SLW chick through standard chicken wire?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by momto4girls, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. momto4girls

    momto4girls Hatching

    May 26, 2011
    We are sooo sad and our two oldest girls are devastated. Went away for two days and unfortunately left our 9 assorted breeds of 6.5 week chicks in their fully enclosed pen, but not locked up in the coop at night. We are in Maine (where it is still chilly at night), so we left on the heat lamp in one corner of the coop and left them plenty of food and water up in the coop, but left the door to the coop open so they could go down and hang out in their enclosed pen and underneath the coop during the day. Someone checked on them Saturday morning after the first night and they were fine. When we returned home at 6 pm yesterday (Sunday), we found feathers near two sides of the enclosed pen under the coop - virtually every part of Lacey, our Silver Laced Wyandotte, was gone except for what we believe was her stomach (red ball that looked to be stuffed with chicken feed) that must have been too big to pull through the fence. There was blood along the bottom of the wood enclosure on one side and the chicken wire was pulled out slightly (no breaks) on one side, but most of the feathers were on the other side when the chicken wire was also pulled (stomach on the ground on the inside of the coop on that side). Lots of feathers on the ground on that side, some right next to the coop and the rest only about two feet away. We suspect someone initially got to her on one side, she was able to break away and moved to the other side, where she met her final demise. Of what was pulled through, the only parts left were feathers. [​IMG]

    I've been reading all I can about who might have done this, and my best guess is a hawk, since whoever is was seemed able to continue to reach in and pull at her until she came through the chicken wire, probably in pieces. Again, no breaks to the wire, just an area on either side where the wire was pulled outward. Even though we are in a residential neighborhood, we have lots of trees on our property and live across the street from a nature preserve. We've seen foxes, skunks and groundhogs in our yard many times over the years. But there are also neighborhood cats and dogs that wander through our yard. Has anyone has a similar experience so we can try to identify the issue. We will ensure that someone gets the girls into their coop at night when we're out of town going forward, but if it was a hawk, I suspect it happened during the day. The attached enclosed pen on our coop has 12 inches of plywood over the chicken wire at the bottom, but the area under the coop does not. We're going to add plywood to the area under the coop too, but wondering what did this and what recommendations anyone would have? We're first time chicken owners and have raised these sweet girls from baby chicks.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011

  2. srsmith69

    srsmith69 Songster

    Aug 25, 2009
    This is classic raccoon behavior. They reach through chicken wire and grab whatever they can reach. Pull birds through the wire piece at a time. Only protection is replacing chicken wire with 1/2 inch hardware cloth.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  3. mljohnson05

    mljohnson05 Songster

    May 16, 2011
    By best guess is a FOX or COON....They are very persistent animal (esp. Coon)...and Coons are know to pull animals through the fence.

    I would put up welded hardware cloth and keep them locked at night.

    You might also want to get a camera or a baby monitor (one with video) to see what is coming to your pen at night.

    Sorry for your loss,
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Again, chicken wire is not for keeping predators out, but for keeping chickens in. Raccoons always pull chickens through that stuff, including grown chickens.
  5. SteveH

    SteveH Songster

    Nov 10, 2009
    West/Central IL
    I've found that adding two electric wires around the bottom of the pen [one very close to the ground, another maybe 6" high, and mounted on the insulators that hold them 6" out from the pen] and a third wire towards the top and on the short insulators, deters most everything.
  6. florida lee

    florida lee Songster

    Apr 6, 2011
    Easy picking for a Raccoon....sometimes work in pairs to get chicks. They are very strong and with thumbs can pull chicks thru chicken wire. I use only hardware cloth with 1/2" openings. Held in place with wood strips screwed down, screws every 6 to 8 inches.

    Sorry to hear about your chick.....I would hate to lose on of mine like that.
  7. DancingHen

    DancingHen Songster

    Mar 11, 2011
    Central Oregon Coast
    Definately racoon. The wire on your run needs to have smaller openings than a racoons little hand. Pulling birds right through the wire is definately a racoon trait. So very sorry for your loss, and I hope your kids are okay. [​IMG] Try to think of it as a lesson learned and cover your chicken wire with smaller gauge hardware cloth.

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