What keeps taking them?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by tharrell, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. tharrell

    tharrell Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 28, 2008
    Colorado Springs
    Long story short, I have lost 16 birds within the last 6 months to something. I had thought I had figured out that this something was foxes. But I'm not so sure. Last night was the latest attack. I had just finally found 2 nice hens to take the place of all the ones I had lost. I haven't let them out of their coop/run at all in hopes that they would be safe. This morning I found a hole that had been dug into the run, and the buff orp had been pulled out. She was laying dead in the yard, but with her head taken. We have had about 3 attacks where the head only had been taken, and the body left behind. Other times the whole body is gone. I was talking to my husband this morning and he is going to bring home some hardware cloth and we are going to cover the entire bottom with it. Do you think this will be effective? Does anyone have any idea what animal or animals could be doing this? Any help would be greatly appriciated!!!

    I tried to get a picture of the hole they dug. It's not a very good picture, and I took it on my phone, but perhaps this will help!
    [​IMG]
     
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think it's a member of the weasel family or a small fox, probably a female with young. Possible you have more than one species preying on your flock. We used hardware cloth and I wish we had underlain the entire run with it. But it's been secure so far, shown on this page (scroll)-

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=7693-LynnePs_Run

    I agree about using the hardware cloth on the inside across the entire base and over-filling it. Would be a faster fix and easier to supervise. Get 1/2" openings, no bigger and you'll keep out all but the tiniest mice, too.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  3. lilly

    lilly Clucks N Pups

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    Mar 25, 2009
    southern illinois
    We have found we always catch a coon in the live trap when our birds have been pulled through the pens and heads eaten. They will grab them by the legs with thier paws and drag what ever they can get through the fence. We have even come out to find a pen of guinea keets whith most of thier legs missing, coons had pulled the legs from under the pen. We never use raised pens anymore.
     
  4. tharrell

    tharrell Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 28, 2008
    Colorado Springs
    Thanks for the info! We do plan on covering the entire bottom with the hardware cloth. We were also thinking about burying it about 6 inches or so. Do you think that would help? We know we have a ton of foxes in the area. Just across the street from our house we have a huge family of foxes. I want to say I counted 16 at one time last year with all their babies. These are some of the pictures I took from our bedroom window last spring. Poor quality, but you get the picture.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    We haven't seen as many this year, but I suppose they are probably still there. I have also seen a couple running through our neighborhood. I just wonder if it is foxes AND something else. I live in Southern Colorado, and I know we have quite a few predators out here. I just really need to get this figured out!!!
     
  5. chickndoglover

    chickndoglover Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 10, 2009
    Victoria, BC Canada
    Do you have racoons there?, that is the way they kill them sometimes, take off their heads.
     
  6. SoJoChickens

    SoJoChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 9, 2009
    Fountain Green, UT
    I wouldn't rule out raccoons either - they are nasty predators. If you want to identify the culprit, you could try spreading some soft sand/soil around the area and then looking for their tracks (site for identifying tracks - http://www.bear-tracker.com/mammals.html). You could also try putting out a trap. Securing the coop is the top priority though. Hardware cloth would be a good start.

    Sorry for your losses.
     
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Those are amazing photos. Yes, I'm sure you're right- more than one predator.

    I can see you'll be working hard today to solve this. Expect the predators to try digging, wait a few nights and try again. Get yout birds in earlier than usual as you set a new routine- I'm sure they're quite traumatize, and you probably are too- so be very careful. Good solution, be sure every edge is secured, it's tricky but you'll sleep better.
     
  8. patyrdz

    patyrdz The Madd Hatcher

    Feb 26, 2009
    Southern Pines, NC
    I would bury the hardware cloth. We did and so far so good! That way they can't dig under. Plus my chickens scratch in the dirt and make holes near the sides. Good luck! Gosh that is alot of foxes![​IMG]
     
  9. Mominator

    Mominator Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 9, 2008
    Killingworth, CT
    Quote:IMO, and from what i have read here, and judging by the huge number of foxes across the street, I would think that 6 inches is a bit too shallow if you are going to bury it in a trench around the perimeter of your run. I believe that 12 inches is the preferred minimum, with more if you can afford to! If you are talking about burying it under the entire run, well 6 inches seems okay. Maybe a little deeper to account for nice deep dust bath depressions? Best of luck to you, and i'm sorry about your chickies getting taken.[​IMG]
     
  10. momof247371

    momof247371 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2009
    DEFINATLEY a mink/weasel! i had 52 chickens one fall by the time spring came i had 2!! some were missing heads some just disappeared...The ones that you cant find are stashed somewhere.. we found our missing ones under lawnmowers and such, they definatley stash them anywhere they can! We knew it was mink because we ended up trappin one of them! we thought we just had one but turned out there was about 3 more living in our wood shed! Set traps if you can, becuase they can get into any little nook or cranny up to 1 1/2" small, cover any and all holes! Be very careful because they can and will wipe you out! If they know they will get fed, they will stay where the foods at! Good luck, i hope you get rid of them before they clean you out!
     

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