What is the longest timeframe a lost chicken has been gone?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Midlife Chick, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. Midlife Chick

    Midlife Chick New Egg

    Jul 16, 2015
    Binghamton, NY
    Back in the summer, we lost some chickens to what we believe was a fox. The fox had a good day. Took out 4 of our chickens. We were heartbroken and learned from our mistake of leaving them free range while cleaning the house inside. We found feathers for 3 of the birds in various spots in the yard. One, we did not find feathers for. Our kids were home and ran outside when they noticed something was amiss. They thought they saw one of the birds run through the woods. We did find tracks in the mud, but no feathers.

    Yesterday, our neighbor stopped to let us know one of our chickens was across the road and under his porch. I found that hard to believe because I was just out there feeding and it was getting dark and they tend to hang around the coops and yard now. I figured something must have spooked them and my heart raced as I went down to do a count. There they all were, eating happily and getting the last snack in for the night. We ring a cow bell and they come running and I rang the bell before I counted. I figure we were all good so I went back in the house before closing up the hatches.

    Jared comes down the drive carrying a chicken which looks like the one we have which was a sibling to the one that was "lost" with no feathers found. They looked identical except one had more white feathers.

    My question: How long do you think a chicken could survive on it's own with mild temperatures? Could it be that our girl had ran and ran and stayed away for months and now that it finally turned very cold, sought shelter under my neighbors porch? Our homes are not that close here. We checked with the closest family that we know have chickens....none lost. I posted on lost pets for our area, no response. We don't know what to think, it looks like our bird but how could it possibly survived all this time?

    Any ideas?
  2. torilovessmiles

    torilovessmiles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2014
    Central West Virginia
    I lost a game hen and her chick for about 3 weeks. Turned out she was hanging around my neighbor's ponies (AKA walking McDonalds) and her chick was as fat as he could be. Even after I figured out where she was, she wouldn't come home for quite a while longer, until her chick was old enough to fly into her roosting tree of choice. She kept him nestled in the bushes at night.

    Recently I lost a hen for 2 days, which isn't very long, but she game back bloody with pretty big wounds and missing feathers. She had been hiding in shock all that time. Her largest wound was already halfway healed by the time she came home. Not one sign of infection!

    If she ran a long ways to get away from the fox, and found herself a good food source, she possibly could have lived on her own for quite some time. She also could have been roaming from house to house, eating cat food and bird seed and roosting under the safety of someone's porch. Where there any identifying marks on the bird you can remember? For example, I can always tell my two white ducks apart by the few little feathers on one's foot. I can tell two nearly identical hens apart by the slight difference in the color of the beak, or a dark patch in a specific spot on her wing. Maybe a distinctive scar? Anything like that you can use to make an identification?
  3. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Do you or a neighbor have a crowing rooster?

    The reason I asked is because a friend of mine was having bobcat problems and after burning off the broom sage fields on his property, he took (it thank it was a dozen) surplus pullets and mixed Strictnine and honey and smeared it on these pullets under plumage. Then he took them about a mile from his farm there he released them on 12,000 acres of rocky paper company land that adjoined his property. The more open terrain plus the Trogian Horse pullets must have worked because the bobcat attacks ceased. And my friend went on free ranging his birds in peace and safety. About January or February of the following year he saw a strange hen come traipsing up his drive way while he was leaving for work one morning. He found where she was roosting and the next night he caught her.

    She was in perfect feather and the peak of health with her head reddening up like a ripe strawberry, which means that she was ready to begin laying. This hen had a wing band and to my friends surprise when he checked the wing band number against his stud book, low-and-behold this hen was one of the sacrificial pullets that he had released 7 or 8 months earlier and over a mile away by road.

    She was in my opinion looking for love in all the right places because my friend had 200 or 300 hundred game roosters and when this hen got in the mood to have chicks she went looking for a baby daddy for her future clutch and homed in on the crowing.

    I lost an escaped hen once in overgrown land for almost 2 years without seeing her again, that is until she was ready to lay. However she was living within 100 yards of were I lost her so she may have pilfered a beak or two full of chicken food when I wasn't looking. Life truly will find a way.

    It may come as either a surprise or maybe a disappointment is the right term to some of you but a chicken is a tougher customer than any of you realize. Humans need Mediterranean type of chickens more than these chickens need humans. Maybe the right term is that Mediterranean type chickens needs humans like a fish needs a bicycle.
  4. torilovessmiles

    torilovessmiles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2014
    Central West Virginia
    I'm sorry for my ignorance, but why Mediterranean-type chickens?

    I agree though, chickens are surprisingly tough, especially game breeds and those suited to specific climates. There are feral flocks all over the place, I even saw one thread about a feral flock living in the semi-wilderness of upstate NY!
  5. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Because after all the shouting and cursing is done, a Mediterranean type chicken is the closest kind of chicken to the Red or Gray Wild Jungle Foul that we have. And that helps feral chickens hold their own in the wild because that type can fly like an eagle. Well more so than any other breed and 99% of the game strains or breeds are Mediterranean type chickens.

    PS: The real and true heritage chicken is some what like the humble Leghorn. Cochin, Polish, RIRs, Easter Eggers, frazzles, and 99% of the other breeds that you can name are all recently emerged from the ranks of the fancy ring as a multi generational experiment on inbreeding.


    A Mediterranean type chicken or in other words a chicken before it got gobbled up by the fancy craze and it's DNA was ruined by trying to breed to the most recent craze, fashion, or genetic fluke.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  6. torilovessmiles

    torilovessmiles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2014
    Central West Virginia
    I see.

    Regardless, OP, no matter the breed of your chicken, as long as it had a food source and a safe place to sleep, there's no reason it couldn't fend for itself for a couple of months, especially in the summer and fall. I'm glad you got your hen back [​IMG]
  7. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    The reality is that this type of bird can pretty much live any where that there is tall trees to roost in, a reliable water supply and sufficient leaf litter to provide a food source.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    With games I have had juveniles on up get dispersed by a predator and not be able or unwilling to return for months and in some instances more than a year. Predator pressure generally not high and dispersed birds learned proper response when challenged by the more prevalent predators. Odds for juveniles not good and they generally do not disperse far. Adults can go much further with some going nearly a mile. In most instances a single long panicked flight is all that is required to get a bird lost. Longer distances either involved repeated efforts to escape predator or location bird initially settled was not suitable for long term habitation resulting in bird walking some distance. The long walks are associated with bird not finding an edge / border area between a field and wooded area. Birds will almost always move long distance when starting a mature forest / wooded area or field lacking trees suitable for providing cover and a roost.

    My brother related a sustained dispersal of games in a spoil area associated with a abandoned strip coal mine where birds may have dispersed without pressure from a predator. In that situation the distribution of forage patches and cover was likely more important.
  9. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    I had a Buff Orpington disappear for 21 days two years ago this past summer. While my husband was splitting wood she suddenly came running out of the wood pile, scrawny, dirty and missing half her feathers. She's in the coop right now and will be four years old in March.
  10. lukemower

    lukemower Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 2, 2015
    We had a rhode island red disappear today, we think it might be a hawk, there is absolutely no trace, no feathers, tracks, anything, we have searched for hours, we are extremely upset.

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