What killed this hen? Cat? Dog?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Ondra's Seramas, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. Ondra's Seramas

    Ondra's Seramas Drowning in Seramas

    Feb 19, 2009
    North Central WA
    I let our 12 week old Silkies out to free range with our other chickens today. We let our chickens free range, with no fences at all. They could walk to Canada if they wanted to. All the chickens that free range (50+ chickens 10+ guineas) stay very close to the coop, in between our buildings.

    We never used to have predator problems, but after 5 years we had coyote problems. We live on a mountain, and if the chickens wandered too far downhill and out of sight in the early morning, they would be eaten. Most were never stupid enough to do that, except the guineas. We had, at the time, 1 livestock guardian dog. She had been raised with chickens, never hurt or chased them. We got another puppy and had him for several years, but he chased them and eventually attacked them and us. So we got rid of him and got two new dogs, 5 year old labs. Neither harmed the chickens, but both joined our first dog in protecting "their" chickens by barking and chasing coyotes and hawks, all night and day. After we got them, we haven't lost any.

    We have 5 cats. None harm the chickens, and most get chased by them occasionally. They hunt, like all cats. Most of their prey are small rodents and an occasional songbird.

    Anyway, I let the 3 12 week old Silkies, 4 16 week old layers, and 2 18 week old Silkies out to free range today after many days in a cage observing their new home and meeting the chickens. I checked on them several times, but had to leave the house for 5 hours. I got home, and found that all had already put themselves to bed except one of the 12 week old Silkies. Of course it was the most promising show quality one of the bunch. We looked and looked, and found her quite near the coops. Something had killed her. I don't know what. It is hard to tell, since the chickens, being chickens, had made a snack of her body. [​IMG]

    Her feathers were all over the place, and there wasn't a speck of meat left on her, thanks to the chickens. Her back third was partly intact. The cats and dogs are also known to chew on an already dead chicken (we don't encourage this!).

    I don't think that it was the cats, because she was quite big. One of the other chickens with her would have been easier to catch, since he is partly blind. Also, there are smaller bantams (Seramas) around. My family doesn't think that our dogs would dare hurt a chicken. What do you think? I can include a very blurry, graphic cell phone picture if it would help.
     
  2. nzpouter

    nzpouter Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,228
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    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    Ondra's Seramas :

    Her feathers were all over the place, and there wasn't a speck of meat left on her, thanks to the chickens. Her back third was partly intact.

    possible raptor....​
     
  3. SpringChickens

    SpringChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 1, 2009
    College Station, Tx
    I would guess a hawk of some sort.
     
  4. Ondra's Seramas

    Ondra's Seramas Drowning in Seramas

    Feb 19, 2009
    North Central WA
    Our dogs always chase birds of prey away. [​IMG] We only see them once in a while.
     
  5. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    Hawk went hunting in the dead heat of day and the dogs were asleep in the shade?
     
  6. Ondra's Seramas

    Ondra's Seramas Drowning in Seramas

    Feb 19, 2009
    North Central WA
    It could be, but all the chickens always run under cover. Even these. The only one that doesn't is the half blind one.

    Thanks everyone for your opinions.
     
  7. GammaPoppyLilyFlutter

    GammaPoppyLilyFlutter Love Comes with Feathers

    Jun 26, 2010
    California
    Perhaps it could have been a fox. Maybe the dogs were chasing something else and a fox or bobcat got to the chickens and killed one.
     
  8. Ondra's Seramas

    Ondra's Seramas Drowning in Seramas

    Feb 19, 2009
    North Central WA
    Quote:Good idea, but we don't have foxes or bobcats here.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010
  9. TurtleFeathers

    TurtleFeathers Fear the Turtle!

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    10
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    Jan 9, 2009
    By the Chesapeake Bay
    Ondra's Seramas :

    Our dogs always chase birds of prey away. [​IMG] We only see them once in a while.

    Thats all it takes is once (in a while)...

    We have 5 dogs watching over our free range chickens in a 2 acre fenced in area that is open with almost unobstructed views - and those 5 sets of eyes lose track of the birds every so often, especially when they break up into groups and go off scratching around in separate areas. I can't imagine that 3 dogs with that amount of space and buildings to look around, behind and between can keep track of 100% of the chickens and 100% of the predators 100% of the time.

    And never say never - we never thought we had bobcats either - or coyotes, for that matter - but we do now. Not many, but a few are out there, I presume because of habitat destruction. And every once in a while we hear of a bear sighting, too, believe it or not.

    What about weasels? Rats? Skunks? Raccoons? Opossums? I know these are normally nocturnal, but if they're hungry enough, you just never know when/where they'll pop up for a meal.​
     
  10. Ondra's Seramas

    Ondra's Seramas Drowning in Seramas

    Feb 19, 2009
    North Central WA
    Quote:Thats all it takes is once (in a while)...

    We have 5 dogs watching over our free range chickens in a 2 acre fenced in area that is open with almost unobstructed views - and those 5 sets of eyes lose track of the birds every so often, especially when they break up into groups and go off scratching around in separate areas. I can't imagine that 3 dogs with that amount of space and buildings to look around, behind and between can keep track of 100% of the chickens and 100% of the predators 100% of the time.

    And never say never - we never thought we had bobcats either - or coyotes, for that matter - but we do now. Not many, but a few are out there, I presume because of habitat destruction. And every once in a while we hear of a bear sighting, too, believe it or not.

    What about weasels? Rats? Skunks? Raccoons? Opossums? I know these are normally nocturnal, but if they're hungry enough, you just never know when/where they'll pop up for a meal.

    Maybe it is a hawk or eagle. Don't they carry off their prey?
    What makes me think that it is a domestic animal, one of our own, is that our buildings (house, barns, coops, sheds, etc.) form a large circle about 40 feet across. The place in between is where most of the chickens spend most of their time. The dogs are usually in the middle/left side (where the predators come from). I don't think that a wild animal would go to the middle of the circle, in broad daylight, with many other chickens and animals closer.

    Thanks so much for your help!
     

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