What ONLY takes the head???

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by lvchicken, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. lvchicken

    lvchicken Songster

    Feb 1, 2011
    Ok, for the second time in one month have I gone outside to do my chicken chores and to my astonishment, find a headless chicken. [​IMG]

    What only takes the head for breakfast??

  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    A coon will grab the head of a chicken through the chicken wire, and in the struggle, rip the head right off. Terrible! Just awful. Those coons have little paws like hands......

    So sorry to hear that!

  3. My cats only eat the heads of feral bunnies and young doves. I think the heads are probably the tastiest part, at least according to both my cats.
  4. Ibicella

    Ibicella Songster

    Nov 13, 2009
    Everett, WA
    Sounds like a raccoon to me.
  5. Lightfoote

    Lightfoote In the Brooder

    Apr 26, 2011
    I favor heeding "Occam's razor" in this situation...in other words, whatever is the most abundant predator in your immediate area, that animal should be considered the first candidate unless all available evidence makes that untenable. That said, I agree that a raccoon is highly likely; also consider the possibility of a mink or other weasel/polecat family member if they range in your region - especially if you live near both woodland and a body of water (pond, creek, lake, river).

    Mink have an array of small, needle-like teeth, and they are blood-drinkers...they will usually bite at the neck until they puncture and draw blood, and then take their fill. This results in mostly bloodless (and thus lightweight) carcass remnants, relative to size. Oftentimes they will decapitate, and/or tear open the body cavity in a bloodlust sort of frenzy. It is not pleasant, but hopefully it will help you rule in/rule out specific predators.

    A friend and lifelong farmer/rancher resident in my area recently had to deal with mink predation on her chicken flock - several losses in one evening, and a coupl more on succeeding nights. A live catch trap was employed (though there were serious doubts that the mink would be able to "survive being relocated"...heh-heh-heh!) and baited with the carcass of the least depleted kill from previous evenings. A spine-chilling banshee "scream" in the wee hours told my friend a mink was caught. She nudged the little beastie away from the cage door with the business end of a 10-22, and in response, the mink opened its mouth and clamped down hard on the end of the barrel. No prizes for guessing how that scene concluded...

    Good hunting!



  6. nurse_turtle

    nurse_turtle Songster

    May 28, 2011
    Foothills of NC
  7. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

    Sep 14, 2008
    Adair Co., KY
    Raccoons will grab and remove anything they can reach inside the pen, be it head, leg, wing. Weasels and minks are good for removing only the head/crop area of birds. Raptors (eagles, owls, hawks) will sometimes remove the head if the bird is big since the head is basically useless to them. For raptors, removing the head makes the bird lighter and easier for them to carry off.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  8. whitecra

    whitecra Songster

    Mar 12, 2008
    For me it was an owl. Caught him in the pen one morning. One chicken dead and head missing.
  9. Chinchilla2

    Chinchilla2 Songster

    Jun 9, 2011
    Red Rock
    Coon, hawk, owl, cat, dog, possum, anything that can get hold of the head and bite. Depends on the primary predator in your area as to the most likely culprit.

    Is the headless chicken still in the coop/run area and is it laying near the fence? This would indicate a ground predator is the most likely culprit. If it is in the middle of the run/coop but you don't have some form of "roof" overhead, then a flying predator is a good possibility. If we're talking a free-range chicken, then it's anyone's guess.

  10. KandiandJerry

    KandiandJerry Songster

    coon or owls they are the head hunters.............sorry for your loss

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