1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

What is taking my chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by savethehens5, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. savethehens5

    savethehens5 New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Feb 20, 2017
    So I live in a neighborhood that was built a few (8) years back near a protected green belt. I have 8 chickens that are typically locked up at night but some nights stay out and perch on the metal fence that surrounds their coup. A standard wooden fence surrounds the yard. Two chickens have disappeared, in very similar ways.

    With the first one, I came outside in the morning to find feathers scattered all over the yard, clearly the chicken was not easy to get a hold of. She was one of the largest ones we had. There was no blood or parts, just feathers. I followed the trail of feathers and occasionally found small piles of soft feathers where it looked like a little struggle had happened. The feather trail led about 100 feet away over several fences into the tree line where I could see a small piece of the carcass left. It was gone the next day.

    The second chicken was a much smaller chicken, was likewise taken from within the metal fenced area while the chickens were perched. They were again not locked up. There was no signs of a struggle within the pen, just one less chicken the next day. Upon searching within the yard I found maybe 1 or 2 feathers. Then as I was walking along the outside of the yard I saw a trail of feathers in a dead tree that sits against the fence and is about 5-6 feet tall. The feather trail clearly goes up the free, over the branches, down the tree, and then along the yard in a straight line. With occasional small piles of 3-4 feathers here and there, one small spot of blood, and then a thin trail of feathers off into the tree line.

    Whatever it is has taken both a very large chicken and somewhat small adult chicken, carried them over fences/into small trees and carried them several hundred feet into the green belt. I live in the PNW, and have seen possums and raccoons out around the area.
     
  2. laircy

    laircy Out Of The Brooder

    91
    9
    48
    Apr 2, 2011
    California
    I was thinking possum or raccoon. Raccoons seem capable of more, though. A possum once attacked one of my chickens, but all it did was tweak her wing feathers and break her wing, then ran away after the chickens made loud noises.
     
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Sorry for your loss. [​IMG]

    I also live in the PNW where predators abound.

    Fences are not an issue for many predators and I would be sure everyone was locked up at night. Thing is... now this predator knows where to come for any easy meal and WILL be back for the rest of your birds.

    Maybe set a trap and be prepared to dispense of said predator.... which DOES NOT include relocation.

    Could be a raccoon as you suspect or any member of the weasel family. Though both are often way more violent than what you describe.

    I almost wonder about a mountain lion or bob cat? Domestic cats aren't usually much of an issue for grown chickens. There are many predators you will never see...but they see you.

    Also, just for argument sake, though I don't know the MO, many owls hunt at night and on the fence doesn't seem like there would be much cover. [​IMG]

    At this point it is either the predator or your birds. [​IMG]

    Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,174
    2,137
    421
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Honestly, it doesn't matter what it is. It sounds like your chickens are, on occasion, sleeping outside in an unprotected area. It could be anything. Before setting a trap, I'd make sure those birds are locked in their coop EVERY NIGHT.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,671
    5,415
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    If carcass is carried off I would suspect canine(fox/coyote) rather than coon or possum, they usually eat where they kill.
    Agrees with bobbi-j, doesn't really matter what it was, make sure those birds are securely cooped at night......
    .....maybe even a secure run during the day, as whatever it was it will be back and not just during the night once it has babes to feed come spring
     
  6. savethehens5

    savethehens5 New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Feb 20, 2017
    Strange update:

    This morning around 7 AM I heard what I thought was a bunch of crows making racket, the dog stared out the window but I thought nothing of it. Now around 11:00 I walked out into the driveway to find grey feathers that look like they are from a pigeon. Then I notice in the neighbor's driveway a huge pile of feathers, a blood spot about the size of an adult fist, a couple more feathers leading to a knocked over yard lamp that's about 8 inches tall, and then nothing. No body, no more feathers. Definitely thinking more likely a feline something with it being in the middle of the morning in the driveway and with it being a **** pigeon. All the chickens are accounted for.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,671
    5,415
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Could be large BOP...like an owl, they can carry off prey to eat in trees, so will bobcats.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    There are lots of day time hunters and I'm not to familiar with them as we haven't had issues yet. But I agree, it must be addressed.

    Good that all the chickens are accounted for! Maybe pay attention to the ruckuss next time. [​IMG]

    Actually... some people nearby me caught a fox in their trap, early in the morn close to sunrise, that had been stealing their hens. At least that's about when it's getting light here now, as you describe 7 am. [​IMG] In regards to the fox suggestion, sounds possible.
     
  9. Allisha

    Allisha Chillin' With My Peeps

    167
    7
    84
    Mar 2, 2013
    Although it doesn't really sound like a bird of prey, unless possibly a large owl, the sound of the crows raises a red flag for me. Crows are notorious for gathering around owls and swarming at them while cawing and screaming.
     
  10. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,542
    478
    159
    Dec 15, 2014
    Massachusetts
    It could be all three predators or one you haven't thought of yet. You live next to a greenway for Pete's sake. That's like a major highway for all kinds of predators. There is a greenway near me and it runs by multiple areas of protected wetlands. All sorts of animals use it to travel back and forth without having to enter the areas populated by humans.

    A fox could have taken the first bird, a raccoon the second and a hawk might have gotten the pigeon. Just lock up the birds or your place will become a famous roadside diner to every predator that uses the greenway.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by