What predator is this?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by chicksfriend, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. chicksfriend

    chicksfriend New Egg

    Dec 5, 2009
    I'm a new chicken lover. Just raised my first 6 from hatchlings. Lost three in the past month that are 4 months old. The first kill was to two of my babies. One looked like it had its neck broken and was dead (no other marks) the other had it's backbone sort of exposed (looked like somtheing scaped it to the bone, and it was still alive, but died shortly thereafter). They were out all day and no one was home. They were out from about 10am til 6pm. (that's when I found them)

    My coop (inside and out) is like Fort Knox. But I had let them free range in my backyard in Portland, Oregon. I'm in a suburban neighborhood, but my backyard does back up to a green space. My yard is fully fenced, (with a 5 ft. high cyclone fence) so after the first kill, I was especially vigilant.

    A couple weeks later, I let them free range again. I let them out at 10am on a Saturday when I was home, and went out at 11am and found another one of my darlings killed. She had a small quarter-shaped wound on one of her wings. There were no other marks, and she was just left there.

    In my area, I see many chickens roaming around in people's yards My girls are dieing to get out every morning. I'm starting to feel bad about leaving them in the coop all day. What could have killed them? (and if it was a predator, why wouldn't they have eaten them, and taken them away, especially the first two because they had so much time) We do have some racoons around, but very few other predators. There are quite a few cats in the neighborhood, do they kill chickens, and then just leave them alone?

    Any help would be appreciated. Would love to let my girls loose in the yard again.
  2. jhm47

    jhm47 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2008
    We visited Portland several years ago. Wife has an aunt there. We saw many possums in their yard right in the middle of the city. Cats also will kill chickens, and if they are pet cats that are allowed to roam, they may kill and just leave their spoils to rot, since pets are notoriously well fed. I would guess cat.
  3. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2009
    This is just my thoughts.......I would not think cats. I have NEVER had a cat even attempt to go after a full grown bird. Watch, dream and drool, yes; kill, never. A kill during the day, that is unusual for a oppussum, but since it was daylight, I would think oppossum over racoon. Put up a deer cam and see what is lurking....
  4. islandchick

    islandchick Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 2, 2007
    Oak Island, NC
    Hi...I havn't been on the forums in a while but we just lost a chicken to a Hawk or falcon this morning and I am trying to get some ideas on protecting them..my husband is out getting some netting to cover their space but it is awfully big...I wanted to tell you that the only other girl we lost this year was to a CAT! My husband saw it scrambling over the fence after hearing the girls shouting...I couldn't really tell how the chicken had died, I think it's neck was broken, no blood or anything...anyway, yes, cat's can and will kill chickens...
  5. Miltonchix

    Miltonchix Taking a Break

    Jul 14, 2007
    Milton, Florida
    Quote:Those who claim "not my cat" are setting themselves up for disaster. Haven't lost one to dogs, hawks, possums, coons, snakes or owls. ONLY TO CATS!
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] But I'm sorry your first post has to be on such a sad topic. [​IMG]

    I think it could be a DOG, belonging to a neighbor or a stray. I usually suspect a dog when the birds are killed with a broken neck but little to no other wounds. And sometimes they'll gnaw on the bird, but not to eat, just like a chew toy. They seem to especially relish long tail feathers. Perhaps a dog caught the third one by her wing and shook it to kill it.
    I [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] it when dogs kill chickens, especially pet dogs that don't need them for food. Check the bottom of your fence for even a small opening where a dog could get through. You may need to add some fencing along the bottom & bury it, or surround the perimeter with cinder blocks, or pile dirt a foot or so high along the bottom edge so it's buried. Or build your chickens a nice sturdy tractor they can use during their outdoor recess sessions.

    Check with your neighbors, especially those with dogs. Tell them of your losses & ask them to please keep their dogs from getting loose. Ask them also to alert you when they see a loose/stray dog in the area.
  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Quote:What really doesn't make sense is when folks say "MY cat doesn't bother my chickens, therefore NO cats are a threat to ANY chickens!" I don't see how logic can make that leap. Certainly there are cats who are more passive, better fed, less aggressive & less prone to hunt. But there are cats who can & will kill chickens. Especially vulnerable to cats are chicks and bantams, and also the feather-faced ones like silkies & Polish. I've seen some really big feral tom cats who look tough enough to take down a full-grown chicken, especially at night.
  8. KKatknap

    KKatknap Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2009
    Albany, OR
    I'm with sunny...could very well be a dog. Even a small one. Dogs LOVE these noisy, feathery toys that run away. Cats would usually eat a portion...even if they are well fed. And would doubtfully ever leave one still alive. The feathers/skin off the back sounds very dog-gish.

    In your place, I would probably just plan to "hang" with the girls when I let them out. Grab a book and sit out there with them. That's the only way I feel safe when I let mine out. We are Predator Central around here, so I could never think of letting them out alone. You would think it would be ok in town....guess not. [​IMG]

    I'm very sorry for your loss. I totally understand the pain of losing little friends.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  9. conroy

    conroy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2008
    I agree with KKat..one of my dogs will kill anything ( she is the sweetest thing but an inherant hunter) I have caught her trying to eat live wild goslings and ducklings after she has caught them...it was sad and my kids were mad but it's her nature... we have to protect our chickens from all sorts of predators...it's scary
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009

    IDIOT HUSBAND Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2009
    Burgin, KY
    My guess would be a cat or a dog. Most wild animals will eat part of a kill. Dogs and cats that are feed well are just doing it for the sport. I've lost 2 one to my own dog and one to a cat or dog. I have not shot my own dog yet but she is getting closer.

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