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What is it and how is it getting in to my coop??!!!! PICS added!!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by lizrndiver, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. lizrndiver

    lizrndiver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been pretty lucky as a large flock owner. Over the last few years I've only lost a few hens and I've dispatched numerous raccoons, a couple of possums, and one skunk (which I hope to never trap again).

    My flock is currently in the 80 range, but it is decreasing by the day. Here is the scoop....

    My coop is built raised 1 foot above the ground using concrete footings. The base is skirted with welded wire on two sides and plywood on the other two sides to keep chickens from going under and laying eggs there.
    The floor is pressure treated plywood. The walls and ceiling are built like a house. 2 x4 framing with plywood sandwiching insulation. I have windows covered with 1/4 inch hardware cloth. Pop door is pretty heavy and we have a lip that prevents it being pushed up from the bottom on the inside. It could be pushed up from the bottom on the outside with some skill, but once the predator got in, it would be stuck inside.

    I have checked and checked and I cannot find any holes or cracks in the coop other than a very slight (1/8") gap between 2 of my floor boards. There is a hole about the size of a quarter at the corner of one window.

    I have found that something has dug under the coop on the two plywood sides, but again, my floors are wood so getting underneath is not a benefit.

    I lock up my flock at dusk, as early as I can get them all in.

    Then in the morning when I come out to let them out, I find a pile of feathers and blood by one of the corners of the coop. I suspect a raccoon and have a trap set, but each morning the trap is sprung with bait still inside and another chicken is gone. [​IMG]

    I really cannot figure out how it is getting in the coop. The last two nights it got 2 hens each night. [​IMG]

    edited to add pics to title.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  2. chicktwins

    chicktwins Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know if you have weasels in you r area but they can get in very small openings as with any rodent type of animal. Rats or weasels?[​IMG]

    I am sorry you are losing your sweeties. Maybe put in a video camera.?
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    When you say I find a pile of feathers and blood by one of the corners of the coop. do you mean inside or outside the coop? I'm guessing inside the coop, but I could be wrong. Also, other than the blood and feathers, is anything else left?

    You do not talk about what your ventilation up high looks like and if there are any openings up there. I know this sounds silly, but are you sure all chickens are making it inside the coop before you lock them up. Sometimes you need to ask the obvious.

    Not knowing a lot about your specific situation, though you gavbe a pretty good description that shows how frustrated you are, I suspect a wolverine, badger, mink, something like that, could be your culprit. Maybe even a raccoon. You might try putting a hasp on your pop door and locking it to see of that helps.

    Good luck!
     
  4. lizrndiver

    lizrndiver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    South Beloit, IL
    The pile of feathers is outside the coop. I am pretty sure that all the chickens are making it in because I've started doing a head count each night.

    This is a little difficult because of the large number of birds and even thought I wait until they roost, having me in there with a flash light gets them moving around a bit. There are key breeds which I target counting because they are easier to focus on. For example I had 4 barred rocks. I now have 1. I lost one the first night of predation. Friday night I lost the other two. I saw a pile of barred feathers and went in to count before I let them out and one one was left. This morning I went to open up the coop and in the same spot there were black and grey feathers. I went in the coop and one of my black sex links and one of my blue orpingtons were gone.

    I also have 4 ducks who are alarmists and make a ton of noise. I find it odd that I don't hear them, but I sleep pretty sound.

    I have a standard pitched roof and the ventilation is in the roof. We also have sofit vents and many windows. All are covered with 1/4" hardware cloth. There is a ceiling made of plywood with insulation on top. So if something got in the roof, it still could not get through the ceiling. Does that make sense?

    It is interesting that the feather pile (kill and eat spot?) is the same place every day.

    arghhhhh!!!!

    Liz
     
  5. lizrndiver

    lizrndiver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    South Beloit, IL
    Chicktwins,

    Could the weasel get hen out the same hole? You would think there would be feathers or something stuck to the edges of the hole. Also the only hole I can find is about the size of a quarter and is up on the wall by a window.

    I will take some pictures and post to show you what I am finding.

    Liz
     
  6. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

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    hmmm Make a pot of coffee, grab a gun, mosquito spray, a flashlight, a lawn chair and do some overnight ops. Time to kill whatever it is and catch them in the act so yu know what and where.
     
  7. chicktwins

    chicktwins Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eastern Shore
    I definitely dont think they are taking the chickens out of that hole but maybe eating them right there on the spot. I dont know, its crazy how predators do the things they do to get a meal.[​IMG] I think I would put a lock on everything that opens. Raccoons are very crafty and use their hands the same way we do to an extent, maybe a raccoon is coming in through the prop door??[​IMG]
     
  8. the4heathernsmom

    the4heathernsmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2008
    east texas
    Game camera to solve your mystery !!!!!
     
  9. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

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    An off the wall thought, but check all those soffits and vents very closely- your pred may be LIVING above the ceiling and coming outside at night with it's chicken dinner.
     
  10. FrizzlesRule

    FrizzlesRule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sad to hear about the loss of your beautiful hens. Could it be humans getting in and stealing your hens? A spy camera might be a good idea.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011

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