what is eating my chicks???

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by lisamarie, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. lisamarie

    lisamarie Out Of The Brooder

    May 12, 2008
    northern california
    hi all,

    so i have our 10 week old chicks out in their hoop house enclosed by electric poultry netting by premier one. they were fine for about 1 week and then i moved the goats out of their area. 2 nights in a row something knocked over the netting and tried pulling a chick out of the hoop house which is covered in chicken wire. ugh. i came in the morning to find the rest of my chickens feasting on the dead bird which had been only partially pulled thru the wire. so i really made sure the poultry wire was secure for the next night--it's my first time using it so i thought i probably didn't have it working properly (although it did seem to be working). anyhow, this morning all was well. BUT, after being out for a few hours during the middle of the day, i come back to the coop and find the chicks feasting on another dead chicken! there was no apparent sign of break in.

    i am perplexed. do you think now that my chickens have gotten a taste of chicken, they killed one to eat it????

    thanks for any insights,
  2. Bizzybirdy

    Bizzybirdy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2008
    North of Nashville
    Sounds like a racoon is pulling them into/through the fencing and then the rest of the chickens are pecking at the remains. Either your fence isn't grounded properly and so isn't holding a good charge or something else is wrong. Did you test it with a fence tester? Even hot wire needs to be connected to a VERY strong box, not one for pets. Am not sure how electric poultry netting works but it must not be that good if something can just knock it down. [​IMG]

    In my opinion, poultry netting is totally useless. You need to replace the chicken wire on your hoop house with hardware cloth to give added protection to your chicks. Are you locking them inside at night??

    Maybe you will just have to stick around, hide and see just what is doing this, especially if it is happening in the daytime. Hope you find out before any more babies are lost.
  3. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I'm sorry for your losses, I know it's heartbreaking & frustrating too. Was the second dead chick killed like the first one? Was it also pulled through the wire? Raccoons & opossums will often do that at night, pulling out & eating off the heads. But they rarely kill during the day. Hawks will, though, they can grab a chick through the wire & reach in with their beaks & pull off mouthfulls of meat. But they won't concentrate on just the head, they'll tear at any part they can reach.

    Perhaps you can call or contact Premier One to get advice on the electric netting, so you have it installed correctly. Is it around the hoop house making a small yard around it? You should also cover at least the bottom few feet of the hoop house with something stronger like hardware cloth.

    I wish you success in solving this problem, and [​IMG] too.
  4. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Sounds like a coon. Chicken wire no good for them. Add hardware cloth to bottom 36" all round. Check fence charger too. If you do a trap, use marshmallows for bait. Cheap and coons love them. Eggs work too. Do not release elsewhere tho. Why export your problem to another ? Besides, they have a homing instinct and will come back for sure.

    I have a 5-mile fence charger, 4 KV. Zareba brand. I put 4 strands of hotwire up, from 8" to 42" ht on the 6 ft fence. My fence is set in cement and no dig-ins or climb-ins yet in 5 months. My area is rural and is eat up with coons, skunks, and possums.
  5. lisamarie

    lisamarie Out Of The Brooder

    May 12, 2008
    northern california
    hi all,

    thanks for your responses. it helps to talk w/ people who understand what it's like to lose a chicken.

    so today i found 2 dead in our coop! i cannot tell what is getting in. the last 3 killed (total of 5 now) have all been found in the middle of the coop w/ no sign of entry. the first 2 that were killed, i found the poultry netting knocked over. these were pulled partially thru the chicken wire. the last 3 have been found w/out heads and insides. everything else was left.

    so i moved our girls to our neighbors old coop which is fort knox (hopefully!) until i get this figured out. it's tough because we did not build the coop to be predator proof because we were going to rely primarily on the electric poultry netting. i really wanted a hoop house so that i could get the girls to many different areas of our property while still being contained and safe w/in the electric netting. i believe that the poultry netting was not working well for the first 2 attacks because we hadn't gotten rain in a while so there was not much of a charge. but then i believe a different predator got in w/ the last 3 attacks so i don't think the netting will work even if it is well charged.

    anyhow, i am going to cover the hoop house w/ one if not 2 layers of hardware cloth, use nightguard lights, and maybe find myself a livestock guard dog!

    any ideas though about what get thru the poultry netting w/out disturbing it and into the coup w/ no sign of entry and would eat the head and the insides of the chicken and leave the rest?

    by the way, i am in northern california if that helps anyone figure it out!

    thanks a million!
  6. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Could be more then one predator. Sure sounds like a racoon, could also have a weasel getting in, they can get thru very small openings. Rats too. The list is rather endless.
  7. baldie

    baldie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 25, 2008
    Douglas, MA
    I was thinking weasel too. They can get through a 1 inch opening from what I have heard and they are persistent. Sorry for your losses. [​IMG]

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