What could it be?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by RubyViola, May 22, 2012.

  1. RubyViola

    RubyViola Hatching

    1
    0
    7
    May 22, 2012
    Last summer we lost all four of our hens and a rooster. Something cut the heads off and left them all dead in their pen over a three day period. We reinforced the enclosure and this spring we got five more. They've been out in the enclosure and coop for about a week (finally out of my garage) and this morning three were missing. I found a single head about a yard outside their enclosure. We have completely redesigned the coop. What on earth is getting them? It rained pretty hard last night but I can't see any evidence of anything getting in. There is about a six inch gap between the chicken wire and the top of the enclosure (which has a tin roof). We're going to close that up this afternoon. But what on earth could be getting them? Oh, we live in the middle of a pretty small town. We have a huge owl who resides in one of our big oaks in the back (hence the tin roof on the chicken enclosure). But all we've ever caught in our traps are squirrls. What could be getting them?
     
  2. OldChurchEggery1

    OldChurchEggery1 Songster

    616
    28
    138
    Sep 27, 2011
    Virginia
    My guess is either a raccoon or an owl. Raccoons are terribly clever and agile, so they'd take advantage of a 6" opening.
     
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    85,929
    119,719
    1,807
    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    The owl, if a GHO, is a prime suspect, but it does not sound as if he could get into the coop. A coon could readily get into the coop through a 6" gap. Part of a dead chicken might be the very best bait in your box trap.


    PS [​IMG] Sorry for the circumstances.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  4. Anatopism

    Anatopism In the Brooder

    31
    2
    26
    May 10, 2012
    Olympia, WA
    Could a raccoon be reaching through and grabbing them through the mesh/fencing at the bottom, resulting in only the heads fitting through, and therefore being removed? Sounds really strange that it is just the heads missing and not the bodies, that remain in the coop...
     
  5. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    85,929
    119,719
    1,807
    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Owls and coons frequently eat only the heads - especially if they make multiple kills. The brain is a favorite source of nutrients.
     
  6. Mellissiana

    Mellissiana Hatching

    4
    0
    9
    May 22, 2012
    I just had the same thing happen, but the beastie took out all five of my girls. I believe it was a raccoon, as to get in, they had to unhook the lower fastening on the coop door.... A very "raccoons" thing to do!
     
  7. darin367

    darin367 Songster

    315
    17
    144
    Dec 1, 2010
    Shelton, Wa.
    i say coon....... they kill everything they can get a hand on........... get a live trap set........ it's a war.... it's you or them..... don't relocate what you catch.... send them to the hunting ground in the sky!!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: