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What/who killed my cockerel? ***warning graphic pictures***

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by shmccarthy, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last night we had a very bad storm. Winds got up to 50mph and it was practically raining sideways. It went on most of the night but stopped early in the morning. I went to take care of the chickens and found one of my cockerels dead.

    He was in the way back corner sitting in a pool of blood.
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    I drug him out before I took a picture because I couldn't see the wound.
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    His flesh was torn all the way to the bone
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    There was also blood splattered all over the walls and ground
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    I have an enclosed run made out of chain link dog fencing. There's rocks all around the perimeter to deter diggers. There was no sign of any forced entry from a large predator. A weasel could have done it was my first thought. The cockerel was young and going to be used for food in the next few weeks. I also suspected my big rooster (his dad) but there was no sign he was involved. The cockerel was in a grow out pen with two pullets, both of which seemed scared when I saw what happened. Next to the grow out pen, I have my bantam pen. I have two roosters in that pen, my silver duckwing and my silkie. The silkie is the newest addition to the flock and I got him 2 months ago. He is smaller than all my other roosters except my silver duckwing but isn't at the bottom of the rooster pecking order. I was sorties he did it because his wattle was torn a bit and he has some blood on his neck. He sometimes gets in fights with the other roosters but only the usual disagreements and there's never any blood shed, nothing like this at least. I have been leaving the grow out pen and bantam pen open because I want them to be able to be integrated by winter so they can all stay warm together. The pullets are becoming part of the flock too because they are getting pretty big. There were no silkie feathers in the grow out pen, only one in the run. If it was my silkie, wouldn't there be feathers from him in there because he is going through a molt? Could my silkie have done this or do you think it was a mink or weasel?
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    Even being a young cockerel he was twice the silkies size but the blood has me a bit worried.
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I think raccoon.
     
  3. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There was no way the raccoon could have gotten in though :/ all the other chickens were okay too except the other rooster... I know someone who lost a flock to raccoons a few years ago and we walked up on it and every bird was dead in the coop/run. I put the body in a live trap just in case it was some kind of predator. I'm really hoping it wasn't the silkie but I just don't see any way the silkie could do that much damage.
     
  4. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There's also some specks of blood outside the run on the rocks near where he died along with a couple feathers..
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Two critters of known identity caused similar damage to a couple of my birds. Both attacks occurred at night to early morning hours. First is a game cockerel that was attacked by weasel. Cockerel appeared to run about with weasel latched on neck for a bit causing a few feathers and blood to be scattered about. Weasel seemed more interested in blood than the meat and feathers seem to have been moved neatly out of the way. Weasel got its fill and left. Dog got weasel as couple nights later.
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    Second was Great-horned Owl that took a cockerel off roost from under his mother. Cockerel was scared from roost and captured on ground were killing was immediate. Owl appeared to be eating the meat with a little feathers as it went. Owl also appeared to tear into bone early in process. Owl had only a couple of minutes before dogs got into it and owl has not been back since that night.

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    Surviving birds behaved very differently by time I got there. Weasel stressed birds were no longer stressed but owl stressed birds ran even from me and held their feathers all fluffed up like a broody hen.
     
  6. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The two pullets that were in the area with him were behaving really strangely. They were both puffed up a bit, once I remove the body the went back to acting normal.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    All looks more owlish to me. For some reason it did not finish job.
     
  8. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    This bird looks just like what one of mine looked like after I chased off a hawk. I am going to guess Owl.. since it was at night, and the two have kills that are very similar.

    Could also be a mink. They seem to kill and leave their victims hardly ruffled at all.. but usually they kill more than one at a time. Since it was only one, I am going to stick with my gut feeling of owl...
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’m thinking owl also. A while back I lost one to what had to be an owl, inside electric netting. In that one the head was pulled clean off. I was late locking them up because I was late getting home from a play. That owl walked into a small coop where I had some 3 month old chicks and got one. The others were not touched but they abandoned that coop and went in with the adults in their big coop. They’ve slept in the big coop ever since. The main reasons I think owl is the attack to the head plus you lost only one. You might look at the body and see if you see any punctures from the claws. If it was an owl you will probably find those marks on the body.

    There are several other animals that could do that, raccoon and skunk included. Both will normally go for the head area. I don’t know why you say it could not have been a raccoon. Skunks and raccoons can climb really well and don’t always harm more than one chicken. Unless you have electric wire around your coop and run, a raccoon or skunk could have gotten in there as easily as an owl. Even a possum is not totally out of the mix. Possums normally start feeding on the vent area but not all predators read the manual.

    Setting your live trap is a good idea. If you do get something, set it again. Just because you get one doesn’t mean you got “the” one. Often there is more than one predator and often different types of predators prowling around.

    A member of the weasel family is my second guess. They can get into real tight spaces and as Centrarchid said, they don’t seem to eat much flesh. But I kind of discount a member of the weasel family in that they are normally really bloodthirsty vicious killers. They normally kill many in a killing frenzy, not just one. But again, not all read the manual.

    Did one of your other chickens do that? I really seriously doubt it, especially at night. I try to never say never but I really don’t think another of your chickens killed him. I think the blood on your other one can easily be explained. When a chicken sees blood or raw flesh, they peck at it and eat. Chickens are omnivores. I think your Silkie was just pecking at the bloody wound.

    Good luck with this. These things are not always easy and straightforward.
     
  10. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have a large owl that lives in the oak tree in my yard but I don't know how the owl would get in because the run is completely covered. My gut said it was the other rooster but I don't think he would attack the cockerel so violently? Especially being half his size. :/
     

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