What could it be?

RubyViola

Hatching
7 Years
May 22, 2012
1
0
7
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?
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 3, 2009
102,928
234,485
1,887
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
Sorry for the circumstances.
 
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Anatopism

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 10, 2012
31
2
26
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...
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 3, 2009
102,928
234,485
1,887
New Jersey
Owls and coons frequently eat only the heads - especially if they make multiple kills. The brain is a favorite source of nutrients.
 

Mellissiana

Hatching
7 Years
May 22, 2012
4
0
9
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!
 

darin367

Songster
9 Years
Dec 1, 2010
315
17
154
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!!
 

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