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What is killing my girls in the afternoons?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by lrowe, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. lrowe

    lrowe In the Brooder

    Jan 19, 2009
    I keep my girls, Barred Plymouth Rocks, in a large coop with hotwire around it at night. I have never had any problems at night. I started with 15, 3 years ago, and only lost a few in that time. Now in the last 10 days, I have lost 7 girls while they are free ranging in the afternoon. We have about an acre and a half of cleared yard surrounded by woods. We have part of the woods fenced in with electric fencing for our 2 goats. No problems with the goats so far. The rest of the property is not fenced.

    I have been home when most of them were taken, with my 2 big dogs inside with me. I heard nothing, nor did my dogs. One I found of my girls in the yard with a bite to the back, looks liked she had been chased and carried by the feathers. I assume a dog? The rest of my girls, it seemed like one a day, I followed feathers into different areas of the woods to find their headless bodies? In the past, I have seen 2 of my girls killed when hawks pounced down on them and ate the neck and heads, but all feathers and body in a small area. These attacks were very far apart timewise. I am confused about the time of day of the attacks and, it looks like they are being chased and carried into the woods, but only the neck and heads are gone? I put out my wildlife camera, and tried to keep vigil during the day while the attacks were happening, but I haven't seen or heard anything. Now I am down to 2 girls, that I am keeping cooped up until we can build a covered run.

    Any Ideas?

  2. MARANMAN2011

    MARANMAN2011 Chirping

    Jul 7, 2011
    Im guesing a dog or coyote. But just a quess>
  3. colebarnhart

    colebarnhart Songster

    I've heard that raccoons will attack during the day if an easy meal is available and they're not always a night time predator and the head getting ripped off sounds like coon behavior. But it could be anything from a coyote to a hawk which you've already had problems with in the past.
  4. RSFChicks

    RSFChicks In the Brooder

    Mar 27, 2011
    Rancho Santa Fe
    Yes dont let them out until you have a covered run unless you are standing outside with them. I free range my chickens in the morning for about an hr and in the evening for an hour to a couple of hours but I stay outside with them, working in the garden and the coops. I live in a canyon with coyotes everywhere and hawks and owls and thankfully in 7 years have never lost a chicken to predators but thats because I stay out there with them otherwise they are safe in their coops and covered runs. Its up to us to keep them safe!

  5. rillgal

    rillgal In the Brooder

    May 17, 2010
    My neighbor lets hers free range and she has lost several to a fox right out from under the nose of her HUGE geman shepard.
  6. rillgal

    rillgal In the Brooder

    May 17, 2010
    RSF...how do you get them back in the run from free ranging?
  7. LostGosling

    LostGosling Chirping

    Jul 11, 2011
    Weasels will take the head and neck. They wait in the brush for a chicken to walk past and then they pounce. One could have jumped onto your girl's back and tore out the feathers if she was slow enough. You generally never know that they have struck until it's too late and they can come at any time of the day or night. They cut the throat for a quick kill, and drag their prey to a safe place. Also note that their is NEVER just one weasel responsible for the killings. There are usually MANY weasels involved in the capture and relocation. The nature cam is a good idea for the major part of the yard, but if you have lots of brush at the edges of you forest, all you may see is your chickens going into it and not returning. You may have to pen them in a Weasel proof run, which involves burying wire and concreat about 1 ft into the ground on all sides of the pen and maybe running a strand of electric wire around the bottom. Hope I helped and sorry about you girls [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011

  8. remadl700

    remadl700 Songster

    Nov 18, 2009
    My best guess is Hawks if its day time. We are having some issues also but we were able to determine that the Barn Terrorists are raccoons and skunks because of the tracks. That would be my only other suggestion is if it is a four legged killer they will leave tracks along fence lines, barn walls, trails. I use diatomaceous earth in a powder form and spread a good .5 inch thick 12" x 12" inch area on known walk ways and if they cross over them they will leave absolutely perfect prints and the animals will not disturb the powder at all.

    Just my two cents. The trick is placing the powder in the correct spots. It works great!!! I will post pics of our efforts to neutrilize the Barn Terrorists.[​IMG]

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