What Predator could it be?


8 Years
Apr 9, 2011
Meridian, ID
We free range our girls during the day, at night they go into the coop and we have a automatic door that closes just after dark and opens when it is day light. No problems with that method, the problem is we lost one of our girls last Friday, figured it was probably a coyote, we already killed a coyote several months ago when we lost the first one. We figured it was the price we pay for free ranging our girls so we try not to name them and get to attached. After all, the only evidence was a pile of feathers. Well just Tuesday we lost a Turken rooster and two SLW hens around 4:30PM we think, so we were prepared to set up in the following evenings and wait for whatever is is to come back for more in the following days. Well with work and all we weren't able to get home before it got dark but all seemed ok. Today hubby got home early and went to set up outside to kill whatever was coming in only to find 4 separate piles of feathers in our pasture. Hubby got home around 4:30 so whatever it is is coming in during daylight ours. Would a fox or coyote come in during daylight ours and kill four chickens and take them all? What would an individual fox or coyote do with 4 chickens? I read they would kill multiples at a time, but to take them all and only leave a pile a feathers really puzzles us. So we have locked our remaining girls in and our 2 cats until we figure out what is going on. About 2 weeks ago my cat got into a fight with something just after dark and left more them multiple puncture marks on her, the Vet said some of the wounds were characteristic of a cat fight, but there were so many puncture marks in different places that it was characteristic of a cat fight. We were prepared to lose a chicken here and there due to free ranging and our back field backs up to an agricultural field. If any one can help us figure out if we are dealing with a fox or coyote it would be great. We can't seem to find any tracks due to the dry weather we have had. I think we have ruled out hawks since I read hawks kill and eat their prey and I don't see a hawk taking 4 chickens in one day, but perhaps I am wrong. And I know a domestic dog will just leave a chicken behind once it is dead (found out the hard way with a dog that came through our neighbors hose pasture to our field). We are going to fence our entire field with a 6 foot welded wire fence and hope that does the trick!
Fox are definitely out during the day. We chased one last Easter at noon! Darn critter had a hen in it's mouth on our front lawn.
I have heard of fox stockpiling food for "later" so maybe that is what it is doing. I suspect coyotes would too.
I'm thinking it's a fox as well, but I wouldn't rule out a coyote since we have seen them in the area. This weekend we will be fixing/replacing two sections of fencing that are part of the problem and allowing them to pass through to get to the chickens easily. We also have a plethora of concrete pieces from an old patio slab we took out last year so we will use that along the fence line to keep any foxes from digging under. It's going to be a busy weekend!
I can only add the fact that a single fox killed 4 hens of mine at noon one spring day. One right after another. Later I found out she had a den not too far across the street with 6 offspring to feed. No wonder she kept at it!
Some dogs will eat what they kill on the spot and others will pack it off. Coyotes and expecially red foxes will kill multiple birds in a visit, then pick up bodies and pack them some where, dig holes for each one and bury remains for later. My dog is an expert at finding such cashes of chicken parts as well as parts of other critters Mr. Fox tries to hide for a rainy day.

Foxes do go after cats and are not able to make a clean kill like a coyote can. Fox bites will be all over cat.

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