What could this predator be?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by TariOronar, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. TariOronar

    TariOronar In the Brooder

    May 18, 2010
    In June, we woke up one morning to find all 5 of our 11 week old chickens dead. Something had gotten into the coop and broken their necks and just left them. No bite marks that we saw.
    A week later, we got 8 Australorp chicks and some hardware cloth. They are now almost 8 weeks old. We moved them to the improved coop last night. They were fine when we got up this morning at 7. At 730, I heard them squawking, and ran outside. I didnt see anything, and they all seemed fine in their enclosed run. So I assumed an argument over who had the tastier weed. At 9, I took my daughter out to see them and we threw some more weeds into the run. They still were fine. At 11, my husband got home for lunch and told me "the back of the coop got broken into, 3 chickens are dead, 2 are missing and 3 are fine." We found the missing ones, they were hiding in the tall weeds in the back of the yard.
    Whatever attacked them got in by knocking out a peice of wood that hadnt been screwed down. Which is a fairly impressive feat, we had that board woven in between other boards to the point it took both of us and a lot of effort to move it. But it managed to get the board out, creating a 3-4 inch hole. (My husband is screwing down that board as i type)
    The 3 dead ones had no bleeding wounds. Some feathers were pulled out at the neck, and their necks were broken.

    What is strong, nimble, doesnt eat its prey, and isnt picky if it is day or night?

    There is a trailer park behind us, with the main road right next to our back fence. So it's not exactly quiet during the day....
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2010
  2. fourgotten

    fourgotten In the Brooder

    Apr 3, 2010
    Everything except the three-to-four-inch hole part of that sounds like a dog, to me.
  3. Fox perhaps??
  4. 3rocksandme

    3rocksandme Chirping

    Jul 23, 2010
    Brookline, NH
    I would guess raccoon. We had a raccoon attack and it was horrid. We have 3 left after that. Anyway the raccoon tried to remove the siding off the coop but then it right in through the people door (our coop is a converted shed) and closed the door after it was done! It went for the necks. Several were dead and uneaten but appeared to have broken necks with bite marks, the ones that were eaten were gutted. The raccoon ate the inards only (it was gross). They have hands, are very nimble and also very very smart. Do you by chance have a larger door? I am not sure a raccoon could get through a 3-4" hole. I do know a mother raccoon will hunt during the day if need be. We put a lock on our door and reinforced the inside walls with sheet metal. So far, so good. We also put a net on top of our run (we have a chicken wire fenced run) and that has worked against the hawks, etc.
  5. Oven Ready

    Oven Ready Songster

    May 9, 2010
    It sounds like a well fed dog just having 'fun' with the chickens. Maybe a terrier type could squeeze through that size of hole ? Check for small bite marks, they might not bleed, either side of the back above the legs. Dogs can be surprisingly soft on a chicken, even though they they still kill them.

    A hungry dog would kill a load and take them away one or two at a time and eat them later. I suspect a fox wouldn't leave all of it's kill behind either unless startled by something.

    The early morning squawking could have been your predator prowling around and you scared it off, or it could just have been chickens squawking for no reason.

    Fix up the holes before it returns and consider setting a trap for it.
  6. zazouse

    zazouse Crowing

    Sep 7, 2009
    Southeast texas
    sounds like a Small dog,

    look at the opening and see if they left any hair behind on it.
  7. TariOronar

    TariOronar In the Brooder

    May 18, 2010
    Apparently it's my next door neighbor's dog. Saw her in my yard when I got up this morning. Ran outside to check on my chickens (they were fine), and she was at the coop trying to get in where the old hole was. Guess I'm gonna have to talk to my neighbors about their escape artist....last time I did, they insisted they have no idea how she gets out...I say "your fence is only 3 feet high on 3 sides, it's not hard to guess".
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
  8. Oven Ready

    Oven Ready Songster

    May 9, 2010
    Dogs are such a pain.

    If you don't want 'take care' of it permanently, you could try trapping it and giving it a hefty whack or something it won't forget to try to encourage it not to return.
    You could take it back to the neighbor in the trap and let them know that would be the last time it gets returned .

    It'll come back. In fact you'll most likely to trap it the same day you put the trap down.
    The dog probably just thinks it's playing, chickens are such fun. The owners probably think it's OK because 'Frisky' gets to run about 'in the wild' for a bit
    It's a shame because dogs who are looked after but not kept within the boundaries of their property become other peoples problems and other peoples solutions are not always what the owners, or indeed the dog, would expect.

    At least you know it's not a family of raccoons or something.
  9. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    This sounds very much like dog. Oven Ready's explaination of the dog behavior is spot on. Anything else would have left a bloodier scene. It's almost certainly not raccoon and it was not the most likely time of day for that either. I'm sorry for your loss. I think you have to find the culprit or it will continue to be a problem. Good luck.
  10. Terri O

    Terri O Songster

    Gee--your neighbor's dog wouldnt happen to be a Parson's Russel Terrier would it? I have one and she only goes out with a muzzle! That dog is FAST and she can kill a chicken, duck or GOOSE with one shake! She is only 14 pounds but all muscle. We have tried everything to slow her prey drive and nothing works but the muzzle.
    The OP is right--the dog will return as long as you have chickens to play with. If your neighbor wont do anything after talking with them you could take the dog to a shelter--it is expensive to get them out around here-- and they might think about getting a proper fence! Terri O

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