What killed our hens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by okhippie, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. okhippie

    okhippie Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 28, 2011
    Keystone Dam
    I'm combing through the archives to get an idea of what has gotten into our coop. We haven't had eggs in awhile and thought it was weather/stress or old age, but now I realize something was taking eggs. We had 6 hens. Their pen/run is fenced with bird netting over it. The coop is sealed up except for the door that we had been neglecting to close at night. So this narrows it down to raccoon, possum, rat, cat or skunk. There was a hole in the netting, directly over the top of an open area, not sure how any of these predators could have gotten up there and into the pen through that. Some small areas at the bottom of the fence looked like an animal might have dug under, but it would have to be small.

    My husband found the first hen in one of the nest boxes, her neck was all chewed up. Otherwise in tact. We thought the other hens had attacked her. A few days later he found the second hen, neck and body chewed up, some meat picked off the bone. I have yet to look at it so it's hard to say whether more meat or intestine was eaten.

    The other hens were up in the roost instead of out in the run on such a lovely day, too. So I know they are freaked out. We let them free range in the garden awhile. Other than staking out the coop at night, I'm researching ways to catch the predator in the next attempt. It obviously has found a food source and will come back.

    Any knowledge of which animal takes eggs, only snacks on a neck, then comes back for more neck and body, would be helpful. We've seen plenty of raccoons, possums, skunks and ferral cats in the area.

    Thanks for the input. Jammie
     
  2. okhippie

    okhippie Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 28, 2011
    Keystone Dam
    Husband sent me a pic, there was a hole where it looked like the predator really went after the back end and ate mostly that soft area. Under the tail feathers. Hole is the size of a tennis ball.
     
  3. buckskinluvr

    buckskinluvr Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 22, 2012
    Gorham, NY
    Sounds like a weasel. Sometimes they kill just for sport and not because they are hungry. The unfortunate thing is if you don't figure out how it is getting in it will continue to knock your flock down a few at a time. They typically show up at dusk or early morning. We had one that took a week for us to realize it had knocked out a knot hole in a board and was squeezing in, ripping their heads off and leaving. It was very sad and frustrating. Lock them up tight at night, before dark until you get the entry point nailed down.
    Good luck!
     
  4. buckskinluvr

    buckskinluvr Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 22, 2012
    Gorham, NY
    I forgot to say that sometimes if you can deter them for a few days they will move on. We never caught our killer and we are still locking them up at night just to be safe.
     
  5. okhippie

    okhippie Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 28, 2011
    Keystone Dam
    Thanks so much for your response. We are in Oklahoma and I've never heard of weasels in the wild here. So, possum? I've got them shut up for the night and will continue to do so. I knew better, we'd just gotten comfortable, I suppose.
     
  6. shelbydog

    shelbydog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 30, 2012
    Bristow, ok
    Hey...you are not far from me!

    I've never heard of weasels here either.
     
  7. Scott H

    Scott H Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 29, 2012
    Twin Lakes, ID
    My Coop
    Weasel's are everywhere.

    [​IMG]

    Don't know if that's your killer tho.[​IMG] Sorry for your losses.
     
  8. shelbydog

    shelbydog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Bristow, ok
    Wow....learn something new everyday
     
  9. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    From that you've said, and in probability of likely hood, my guess is:
    1. a possum (it will eat anything, even while its eating him)
    2. a mink (its a big honking member of the weasel family)
    3. a skunk (its a foul smelling member of the weasel family and an egg eating machine to boot)
    4. a long tail weasel (its where the other members of the weasel family get their reputation for being blood thirsty) Sometimes the long tail weasel will kill for sport or in order to drink the blood of a victim.

    The reason I put the long tail weasel last is that Oklahoma is not over run with them. They are however small (weigh less than a pound) territorial, nocturnal, and so are seldom seen or observed in nature. It would be more typical for a long tail weasel to kill 100 baby chicks at a time in a brooder house and leave all the corpses in a neat pile on the floor.
     
  10. okhippie

    okhippie Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 28, 2011
    Keystone Dam
    Very interesting...I so want a trail cam so I can find out what it is. Today I told my husband that I'm pretty sure we saved a chicken's life last night by closing up that door. A new hole was dug in the area that Chris had already backfilled, it was almost softball sized. I saw several fuzzy "paw" prints but can't quite be sure what they are. Too small and fingerless to be raccoon. We've seen plenty of raccoon prints in the past, but these were small like cat prints, and I didn't get down to really look for claw marks...(I'm pregnant and very large and uncomfortable.) The sandy dirt wasn't revealing a clear picture of what the print looked like. Anyway, we managed to deter the predator last night. So that's good.

    If it's some elusive weasel I'd love to get a look at it, that kind of rarity would make my day. I want to rule out raccoon based on prints, so that leaves possum, skunk or weasel. IF I ever find out I will let y'all know. Thanks for all your help! And here's to being more diligent.
     

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