What is killing my hens? Second hen with hole in its side.

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by tazzy, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. tazzy

    tazzy Songster

    Apr 2, 2008
    We have a sad mystery to resolve in our chicken coop. We have lost four hens in the past several weeks.

    Here's the situation - we started with ten hens that we raised together since last spring. Three died about 3-4 weeks ago, with two apparently pecked to death by a mean hen that was bullying the other hens in our coop. The third had a hole in her side and all of her intestines pulled out and eaten, but no pecking other than that.

    We pulled the mean hen out, bought a rooster and three more hens from a breeder - full grown - and transitioned the new hens to the coop with the rooster. We took out three more hens that were severely pecked and put them in a separate area to heal. We left the mean hen in solitary confinement (in our brooder pen.)

    One week ago, my husband put the mean hen back with the six other hens and the rooster. So three of the original hens, three of the new hens and the rooster. She was not happy at first, but the rooster put her in her place and they started cuddling up together every night and sleeping. It was pretty cute.

    We thought all was well in the chicken coop. Until today. My husband found another hen - one of the new ones and completely unpecked and healthy except for a hole in her side and all of her intestines eaten.

    We're now wondering if it's a rat getting into the coop doing the damage or some other predator. Our coop has a one-foot deep concrete footing all the way around the base to keep predators from digging under, but there are burrows in the dirt floor of the pen that look like they could be dug by rats or moles.

    Can anyone help us out? Any suggestions?

    Here is a photo of our pen if that gives any indication of anything. It's a secure pen with no way in other than digging down a foot and then back up into the pen.

  2. wynedot55

    wynedot55 Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    ok lets to some thinking here.youve lost 4 hens all in the same way.can you find or see anyway varmitts can get into your coop.digging under holes in the fence.if not that leaves your mean hen as the problem.the only thing i can think of is pen the hen up for a month to see if anymore hens die via hole in the side.if no deaths in a month with her penned up.then you have a killer hen to deal with.
  3. LuckysMom

    LuckysMom Songster

    Jun 14, 2007
    South Carolina
    I agree, pen the mean hen up again and wait and see. It seems like if something had gotten in the pen you'd see the evidence; a hole chewed through the wood or a hole in the floor. [​IMG]
  4. tazzy

    tazzy Songster

    Apr 2, 2008
    there are little burrows in the floor. so holes in the floor. would a chicken kill another by pecking a hole in its side and eating its intestines all at once?

    they haven't all died the same way. two were clearly pecked on for weeks and weeks before they died when a blood vessel was apparently struck and they bled to death. the other two were intact, no previous pecking, and they had a hole in their side and their intestines eaten out.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2008
  5. i think that it could possibly be from a rat.. are they bantams or standard chickens? it could be a mink tho too..
  6. ticks

    ticks Pheasant Obsessed

    Apr 1, 2008
    The Sticks, Vermont
    small raccoons did the same thing for my friends. You should put traps out, even hav-a-hart with corn in it will work.
  7. tazzy

    tazzy Songster

    Apr 2, 2008
    I'm thinking that two of the deaths are the result of the mean hen and that the other two deaths - the weird ones with intact birds other than the hole in their side and the missing intestines - are rats or another predator. Does that sound right?
  8. willheveland

    willheveland Songster

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    mink or weasel is my bet,if you see burrows in the floor. Will
  9. tazzy

    tazzy Songster

    Apr 2, 2008
    wow. I've never even seen a mink or weasel in the wild. I guess they have them in kentucky though.

    we have the mean hen out for fear that she's somehow doing the damage but our instinct tells us otherwise for two of these deaths.
  10. mullers3acers

    mullers3acers Songster

    Oct 9, 2007
    la porte, In
    we had this problem a few years ago and we found out it was a pregnant raccoon. We lost alot of chickens that year.

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