What is killing my chickens? I thought I had Fort Knox!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by baileybrood, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. baileybrood

    baileybrood Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 21, 2012
    North Carolina
    I'm at a loss as to what may be getting my chickens. I'm hoping someone will have some insight. A few weeks ago I lost a chicken to what I thought was probably a hawk. The chickens were out in their free range area and I found her on the other side of the fence, missing her head :(

    So, after doing some research, we decided to put up fishing line in a grid pattern throughout their pasture area. The only area that we didn't do was right at the gate in about a 2 x 3 foot area. We even hung cd's to blow in the wind. Everything was going fine. Yesterday, I came home to find my big, 10 pound rooster on the other side of the gate. He definitely put up a fight by the looks of it but I could not find any indication of how he got on the other side of the gate! There were no feathers or disturbance to the fence line, either above it or under it.

    Could a hawk have gotten through that small section that didn't have fishing line by the gate and pluck him out only to drop him on the other side??? I do have dogs that have an adjacent fenced backyard. They can come and go out of the house on their own during the day so I thought maybe they heard the commotion and came out which startled the predator and they got away.

    Could it be a fox that can climb over the gate or fence? The fence is 6 feet high. It would have had to carry it back over the fence. I've attached a picture of the setup. It is surrounded by woods. If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear. Right now I'm keeping my remaining 3 hens locked up in their run. Poor things don't know why I won't let them out! :(


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  2. Masonicflock

    Masonicflock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 4, 2012
    Springfield, Tn
    Sorry for your loss! Missing a head could mean a raccoon or possibly a cat. foxes and other predators will carry off their prey. A hawk could go in through the hole but they usually don't like being on the ground chasing since their method is to plunge from the sky and hit the prey on a dive bomb. Plus too a hawk usually can't carry their prey off too far without having to stop and rest, unless its a big hawk and smaller prey. Hope this helps! There are several methods for dealing with predators and not all are popular
     
  3. Talihofarms

    Talihofarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 4, 2010
    I would suspect a bird of prey.
    Hawks and Owls will eat the head first.
    Then start on the breast.
    A coon will eat the crop out.
    I would speculate that you have a bird of prey.
    Poultry netting is your best defense.
    Complete coverage on the whole coop is your best defense.
     
  4. bugglesmommy

    bugglesmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Do you live in an area where there are weasels or minks? They are small sneaky pains that often bite the heads off.
     
  5. baileybrood

    baileybrood Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 21, 2012
    North Carolina
    I'm think the missing head incident might have been a bird of prey. This happened before installing the fishing line. I heard a commotion outside and when I ran out there, I found the hen on the other side her fenced area. My dogs ran out with me which probably scared it away. Both incidents have happened mid-afternoon which makes me think it wouldn't be a raccoon.

     
  6. baileybrood

    baileybrood Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 21, 2012
    North Carolina
    Yesterday's incident was with my BIG rooster. He would be too big for anything to take too far, I would imagine. The fact that there were no feathers anywhere inside their fenced area makes me think bird of prey. It probably didn't get too far because my dogs would hear the commotion and scare it off. I just can't believe it got through that opening of fishing line! I think you're right, Talihofarms. Poultry netting being purchased this weekend. Now I just have to figure out how to do a large area that way (50' x 80'). What do you think about bird netting??

     
  7. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    I have birds that can go over a 6 foot fence... Maybe your guy flew over, got tagged. Both incidents occurred outside the gate with the gate closed. That says your bird went up and over first, now no protection... If I read that right...
     
  8. Talihofarms

    Talihofarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We use 2x2 poultry netting on our pens from 3' up and over the tops. Our sides are corrugated metal panels dug 6" into the ground and up 36".
    The corrugated metal sides prevents ground predators from seeing the birds.
    As an extra precaution we run hot wires 6" 24" and where the poultry netting meet at 36".
    We have not had a predator loss from air or ground with this method.
    All of our losses are on our pasture raised poultry, however that is a risk we assume with a pasture raised operation.
    The birds of prey don't bother us so much, as we like to participate in skeet and trap shooting.
    On occasion we shoot by sheer coincidence when a hawk is in the area.
    They don't stick around, seems like they know what could happen if they cross the path of a clay pigeon.
     
  9. ducclelover

    ducclelover Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 3, 2012
    Shelton, WA
    Sorry for your loss. We have had 3 kills here at our own "fort knox" and discovered via game camera that an almost once extinct fisher cat was our problem. It's amazing how small of an opening some predators can get through!
     
  10. harveyhorses

    harveyhorses Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So sorry for your loss. If your area is not covered, it is not fort knox, I was working on the top of my run that got crushed in a snowstorm
    and two of my girls just flew right up and over the 6 ft walls. Raccoons are just mini bears, never underestimate what they can or can not do
    Go look at your chickens enclosure and try to think like a predator. It's hard when we think we have done everything, but they do NOT tink like we
    do, don't care how nice and tight and pretty, they just think, hey I can fit through there no problem.
    Good luck.
     

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