What killed my chickens?! 10 in one night (graphic pictures included)

zsimpson

In the Brooder
Dec 7, 2019
4
11
14
Wondering if anyone has a good idea on the predator I'm after. See attached pictures of crime scene. We lost 10 in one night. The remaining 13 and 2 youngins in another pin lived. I would assume a racoon due to the pulling through fence, but something was also inside the barn trying to pull inward into barn through what I assume is a much smaller gap then they can fit through, most left intack, two/three beheaded out of the 10 total taken out. We are rats galore with active grain bins on property which is how I believe tunneling is starting (shown in pictures)
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so that may be a non factor

Thanks in advance for your advice.
 

Tycine1

Crowing
May 26, 2009
1,679
3,915
371
David, Chiriquí, Panama
I know nothing about what sort of predator may be after your flock, but you can possibly eliminate the burrowing by attaching an 'apron' around the exterior perimeter of their coop and run. Attached is a link to a youtube video on how to install one.
The smaller the holes, the more predators you prevent, but at the cost of sturdiness of the wire.
 

Howard E

Crowing
Feb 18, 2016
2,515
2,996
256
Missouri
Heads missing from all....or just a few? If heads intact, bites to the back of the neck at the base of the skull?

Birds piled up? Scattered about? Any attempt to bury them?

From information provided, mink or weasel, but most likely a mink.

Was probably attracted by the rats, but switched to your birds. It will be back. Perhaps already has been?

Please don't be offended, but the only use of that fence is to temporarily convince your birds to stay inside it. Just about any predator out to cause harm to your birds could get past it. They can easily go under it, over it or through it. Does the shed have a cement floor or?????

What is your location? If nothing else, in general terms.......like state or region?
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
1,572
5,209
377
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
Welcome to the BYC forums :welcome Sorry for your loss.

Please don't be offended, but the only use of that fence is to temporarily convince your birds to stay inside it. Just about any predator out to cause harm to your birds could get past it. They can easily go under it, over it or through it.
I use the same fencing for my chicken run. It is predator resistant, but not predator proof. But I lock up my hens in a Fort Knox coop every evening before it gets dark. When did this attack happen? Do you keep the pop door open at night? Anything as big as a 1 inch hole will let a mink or weasel in.

The Carolina Coops video about the predator apron is a good idea, but you have to consider that their coops use 1/2 inch hardware cloth on their chicken runs. Their chicken runs are completely enclosed on all sides and a roof on top. But they state their runs are predator proof (with the predator apron) and you don't have to lock the chickens up at night in the coop. That much 1/2 inch hardware cloth was beyond my budget. So I just used the 2x4 fencing and make sure the girls are in the coop and everything is locked up tight before it gets dark.
 

zsimpson

In the Brooder
Dec 7, 2019
4
11
14
Heads missing from all....or just a few? If heads intact, bites to the back of the neck at the base of the skull?

Birds piled up? Scattered about? Any attempt to bury them?

From information provided, mink or weasel, but most likely a mink.

Was probably attracted by the rats, but switched to your birds. It will be back. Perhaps already has been?

Please don't be offended, but the only use of that fence is to temporarily convince your birds to stay inside it. Just about any predator out to cause harm to your birds could get past it. They can easily go under it, over it or through it. Does the shed have a cement floor or?????

What is your location? If nothing else, in general terms.......like state or region?

Thanks for your input. You’re correct in that the fencing is not much more than a barrier for the chickens. We usually close the coop door at night which is a concrete slab floor and sealed walls to bottom of decking of hay loft with chicken wire on open walls. This is in a sectioned off section of a large farm barn in North East Indiana.

Headed we’re removed from two or three of the 10 killed. I don’t know if the dogs took one off or not as they got out there before I. It looked like blood around neck, not much damage elsewhere and they were sort of piled up in that they were trying to be pulled through similar fence locations. These were being pulled into barn and out of the fence area. I lean toward coon but am confused as to how one would squeeze under that barn slider door to be pulling it back into barn. Do mink/weasels/coon ever run in packs?
 
a weasel is a solitary hunter, but can take out an entire flock in one night, like yours.
they can be as small as a chipmunk. they kill by biting the neck.
i agree they probably were drawn to your barn hunting rats, which make them a benefit to you.
your other flock may be safe if their coop is more secure.
fortify with hardware cloth any gaps or holes. place a apron around the structure foundation. confused how it could dig in if coop sits on a cement pad?
close the coop at night. your run is not secure at all.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/proof-weasels-can-fit-through-1-spaces-pictures.955158/
sorry for your loss!
 

Howard E

Crowing
Feb 18, 2016
2,515
2,996
256
Missouri
Please clarify what time of day you believe the birds were killed.....as a few things don't add up.

To be killed in the pen......to be drug back into the barn......would mean they were killed during the day when the pop door would still be open. Why not use the pop door?

If at night......birds would be locked in barn enclosure and would not be in the pen........so what you may have thought was birds being drug into the enclosure could be birds being drug out? A mink would be able to get under the door and most likely could have drug the birds out under the door too. Minks tend to pile their kills......weasels tend kill em and leave em lay. In either case, if they were dragging the dead birds out under the door, both would do a lot of damage to the head and neck beyond what was needed to kill them.

In general, this time of year, coons would be killing and eating select portions of birds and leaving them lay. And most muiltiple kills from coons happen in the Spring and Summer when momma is teaching the kids to hunt and kill. Because it's a barn......coons are possible and could even be denned up in the barn.......but given the pattern, a mink would be higher on my list of suspects.
 

zsimpson

In the Brooder
Dec 7, 2019
4
11
14
We do not live next to a creek or water source. Coons have been in barn living prior to buying residence, but no current dropping or evident supports residence now: I should clarify, this happened over night and we did NOT have the door shut to coop, we had mistakenly left it open over night as temperatures weren’t real cold and we’d forgotten. I assume whatever it/they were entered run areas and entered coop, no signs of struggles or things moved/knocked around in the coop area. Nothing is able to get into coop it’s fortified, IF we shut the door.
 
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