What killed my baby chicks?

ChickenLittle5

Hatching
Mar 24, 2020
4
2
3
Sorry for the late reply. Things are crazy with all the kiddos home from school. :) I appreciate everyone taking the time to reply! To answer some of your questions...
Man, that's crazy!
Where do you live?
What does the brooder look like?
What kind of dog?
We live in NE Tennessee. The brooder was just a plastic bin--no top. We got a small used chicken coop, but it still needed to be cleaned and I was waiting until the chicks were older to put them outside. I thought indoors would be safer and warmer for the first few weeks. The dog is a lab. She is definitely big enough to hurt/kill them. She has just never done that before with the other animals. She loves to play/chase things, but has never hurt anything. I think she would have killed, but not devoured or destroyed them like that. She is a dog though, so maybe wishful thinking on my part?! We kept the basement door closed with the assumption that she would hurt them, but it is possible the door got left ajar by the kids.

I wouldn't eliminate the dog as a possibility. Wouldn't eliminate rats either, though that would have to be a crazy amount of rats to do all of that. Is it possible that anything else could've gotten into the basement (i.e. you leave a window cracked open)?

Brooder should be covered at all times and the cover should be secure enough that it can't easily be knocked aside. Something like hardware cloth on a wood frame with weights should do it.

As a precaution I'd make sure to keep the dog out of the basement until the chicks are out of there.
Windows were closed. We are still investigating whether there is a hole somewhere that something can get inside. The Orkin technician said a rat can get through 1/4" hole, so?? However, we looked around and didn't see any droppings. I brought a cat over last night to sleep in my basement and it doesn't look like he killed anything. He was a feral kitten when we got him, so he is an awesome hunter. He frequently brings in rabbits, squirrels, birds, etc. to my mom. I think I'll bring him over every night until we get more chicks.

I didn't think I needed a cover since I had the chicks inside. (I know that is stupid now!) We are going to get some more and I will definitely build a sturdy brooder with a top before we bring them home. We will also set up an old baby monitor to keep an eye on them. I feel horrible I let this happen.

The dog wasn't allowed in the basement. The door was kept closed with the assumption that she could hurt them. However, I can't rule out the door was left ajar by the kids.
sounds like raccoon or fisher cat?
If these were outside I'd for sure think raccoon. I hope I don't have a hole big enough for a racoon to get inside my house though! I will be checking for holes again tonight if it isn't raining. I'm not sure what a fisher cat is, so I don't think they're native here. I'll have to google them to see if we have a different name for them here.
 

rosemarythyme

Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
6,919
13,399
642
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
The Orkin technician said a rat can get through 1/4" hole, so?? However, we looked around and didn't see any droppings. I brought a cat over last night to sleep in my basement and it doesn't look like he killed anything. He was a feral kitten when we got him, so he is an awesome hunter. He frequently brings in rabbits, squirrels, birds, etc. to my mom. I think I'll bring him over every night until we get more chicks.

I'm not sure what a fisher cat is, so I don't think they're native here. I'll have to google them to see if we have a different name for them here.
The cat isn't a bad idea since you know he's likely to hunt down a rat if there is one.

Fisher cats are weasels. Weasels are pretty brutal killers of chickens, and fairly small, so if there's an opening for them to get in, that would be a possibility. But I would think it would be fairly unlikely that one is living in your basement...
 

BGcoop

Songster
Aug 5, 2018
500
1,423
206
if There wasn’t a cover it could be possible they jumped out and that’s how the dog? maybe got them Without disrupting it from the chair? I’d be freaked out thinking of rats or cats etc. getting in without my knowledge!
 

qopt

In the Brooder
Mar 14, 2020
46
66
43
Seattle, Washington
if There wasn’t a cover it could be possible they jumped out and that’s how the dog? maybe got them Without disrupting it from the chair? I’d be freaked out thinking of rats or cats etc. getting in without my knowledge!
This one make sense to me.. I'd hate to think there were rats or weasels inside my house..
 

Fluffyflufffluff

Songster
Premium member
Dec 30, 2019
364
742
116
Hi all. I'm new here. My son recently got baby chicks to raise through 4H. The chicks were thriving, but last night something killed all of them. We had them in a plastic bin on a chair in our basement, so whatever killed them is in our house! My first thought was the dog got to them, but after seeing the evidence I don't think it was her. First, she is an inside dog and I haven't found any evidence outside the basement. Second, the bin was still on the chair and I think she would have knocked the bin down trying to get to them. She isn't tall enough to look inside but is definitely rambunctious enough to knock it over if she wanted to do so. Third, I think it would have been a game to her and we would have heard her barking. (She is a lab and I know she could easily kill the chicks, but I don't think it would be to eat them. I think it would be trying to play with them.) My second thought was RAT, but there aren't any rat droppings anywhere. What else feeds on baby chicks that might be inside my house? My son is very upset and wants more chicks, but I'm not getting any more until we know what got them, so it doesn't happen again. There were 6 carcasses on the floor around the brooder and the other 7 chicks are gone. Either something ate them whole or carried them off. (That is another reason I don't think it was my dog.) Am I CRAZY to think this wasn't my dog? We were careful not to let her follow the kids to the basement and in general, she doesn't try to hurt other animals although she loves to play with them and could hurt them because of her weight. She has been around 2 kittens and a duck (all grown now). She loves to play with all 3 but never tried to hurt them. What else might it be?
Its really possible to be a cat, I mean, that's a number one suspect.
 
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