What killed my hens and ducks?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by AwesomeFacer, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. AwesomeFacer

    AwesomeFacer Out Of The Brooder

    May 5, 2011
    Hi, all. I had my first losses to predators yesterday, and I'm wondering if you might be able to help me figure out what did it. Here's the scenario, and a description of the damage to the casualties. (Sensitive readers be forewarned.)

    We were free ranging 16 Buff Orpingtons (15 ladies and a roo) and 5 Rouen ducklings (4 drake and a hen), all about 10 weeks old. We live in the country in northern PA. Between 8:00 yesterday morning and about 1:00pm, something came down through the field above the house and attacked. It left 3 bodies (the roo, a hen, and a drake) and 3 have gone missing (the female duck, a drake, and a hen). My BF said the 3 bodies he found had puncture wounds on the neck, and that the necks were crushed. He found the drake in our back yard, and the roo was caught up in the newly installed garden fence up the hill. The surviving ladies were all clustered together on the far side of the garden outside the fence, and the two surviving ducks were right by the back doorstep. He was able to follow the trail up through the field and hill behind our house, but lost it when it got on the landlord's big lawn.

    We're thinking either foxes or dogs. We chased off a pair of dogs last Saturday afternoon and had no casualties, so maybe they made a return visit. I read that foxes, weasels, minks, fishers, and dogs kill for sport, but I feel like if those two dogs returned and had all afternoon to work, they would have decimated the entire flock. There is a lot of water on our hill, two lakes on the property, so minks, weasels, fishers, and the like abound. There are definitely coyote up here, and we've seen signs of a big cat, too, but the damage doesn't seem to fit these animals' MOs, does it?

    What do you all think killed my birds? And will building an enclosure help to protect them?
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2011
  2. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    In my experience MOST wild critters will eat something.. even if they eat part of one then kill more for fun. Dogs tend to just go from one to another killing their new toys. A starving dog will eat part or all of a bird.. but well fed pets normally won't.
    Now not saying that's the case for everyone.. but just what I have experienced here.
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds odd, possible dog but they kill for fun then chase the next one and a fox will grab and run away and eat them in the safety of the woods. A enclosure will always help if it's done right but it get real expensive fast.

    You might look into electric fence (either solar of plug in) and set it up as a perimeter. You can get step in posts that set up and move easily and the wet ground will help keep the charge strong. Run a strand starting about 3" off the ground then every 6" on the posts. Make sure you plan it so there is no way around the fence so every intruder has to get thru it. This will turn about everything but birds. It's usually very effective and since you have been found, the critter will be back till you run out of birds. If the birds insist on going thru the EF, lay some deer netting over it and they will stop.
  4. AwesomeFacer

    AwesomeFacer Out Of The Brooder

    May 5, 2011
    Thanks bryan99705 for the electric fence suggestion. We're going to price EF compared to a movable fenced enclosure, but I really like the EF idea.
  5. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2010
    My bet is on a fox. That has fox written all over it.

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