What killed my chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by drafthorserider, May 21, 2012.

  1. drafthorserider

    drafthorserider Chirping

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    Feb 10, 2012
    Near Bellefontaine, OH
    Something killed 26 of my chickens - about 3-4 months old. It was so hot yesterday that we left the chicken door open as we were afraid it would get too hot in the chicken coop. The door opened into the chicken pen which is fenced. Obviously this was a huge mistake. Sometime during the night - we live in rural Ohio - the chickens were killed. 22 were left in the barn. They were found as follows:

    None were dead in the barn - all were dragged out through the chicken fence and under the fence which was pushed up quite a bit - it looked like 14 just fell over randomly throughout the woods scattered within about 50 -100 feet of the chicken barn. There wasn't a mark on them and obviously a few had their necks broken (I assume all). I found feathers where I assume one was eaten and the other 11 are completely gone. It is very dry and there are no tracks - it looked like whatever it was (or more than 1 thing) killed for fun but still managed to eat 11 (which makes me think there was more than 1 as I assume 11 is a lot to eat for anything?) We walked a good distance around the coop and didn't find a single feather out side of the 'kill zone'. Any ideas? This all occured in a horse pasture (where our coop/barn is).

    I know it wouldn't have happened had I shut the door (won't leave it open again) but I would still like to know what it was that killed them. We do have a stream about 100 feet from the barn - so maybe some sort of weasel/fisher? There are also a lot of trees around. However all of these chickens free range and we have never had a problem with anything getting them during the day and we have had them for 4-5 years. Any input would be great. Thank you.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I suspect canine, especially a pack of canines. It could be dogs or coyotes. They will kill for fun. They will kill a lot. They can carry some away to stash for later or to feed their pups.
     
  3. SarahYoungner

    SarahYoungner In the Brooder

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    May 12, 2012
    Do you have a trail camera? This is a great idea, although I have never used one for my chickens, I do use them for hunting, and you can catch anything red handed. When we complete our coop, I am going to put one up to see if the raccoons can get in.
     
  4. rungirl

    rungirl Songster

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    Apr 7, 2010
    Columbus, Ohio
    So sorry to hear about your chickens. That's a horrible thing to walk in to. I had the exact same thing happen to me on a hot night. I thought it would be OK because I had a dog kennel run around the open pop door and nothing bothered them during the day free ranging. I heard the commotion in the middle of the night because my bedroom window was open (luckily) and whatever did it was gone when I got out there. I lost one hen but it could have been much worse. I set box traps, thinking it was a raccoon but I caught a skunk and 2 possum. I think you need to set traps for a while with cat food and marshmallows. It could be raccoons, opossom or minks also. Minks are hard to catch. I caught a lot of harmless barn cats by accident, which was annoying because they were happy to spend the night in the trap for some good stinky, canned catfood. So I just cracked open the can so they could smell it but not eat up all my bait. Whatever it was will be back. I keep my traps set all summer now. Anything snooping around the chickens at night is up to no good.

    I never leave the pop door open anymore. I run a fan and have high windows open with hardware cloth in them. I even built an automatic pop door opener/closer with an electric car antenna and timer,so it's closed up if I come home late.
     

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