what would kill 20 chickens and leave the bodies?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by cutechickies, Aug 16, 2016.

  1. cutechickies

    cutechickies New Egg

    7
    0
    9
    May 13, 2014
    nepa
    hi all - we just walked into our coop to a disturbing scene. (actually my son and his friend that we barely know walked in [​IMG]) We just walked out this afternoon to feed them, and we have 20 dead chickens in the coop (3 are completely missing) none are left. the chickens look completely intact, for the most part. there is a head missing here and there. what would do this? we have an automatic coop door, so it opens and closes with the sun. there are no broken boards, other than a little blood and the dead bodies, everything looks normal. Honestly I don't even know how something would have gotten in, unless it went in during the day and waited for them?
     
  2. MadamPoofyBrow

    MadamPoofyBrow Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,158
    133
    148
    Jun 15, 2015
    I'm almost certain it was a weasel. Those things are absolutely terrible. They kill EVERYTHING and usually just leave them all laying there. I don't know of anything else that does this, and the missing heads makes me even more sure.
    Sorry for your losses[​IMG]
     
  3. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,426
    299
    198
    Jul 4, 2014
    Maine
    That could have been one of many types of predators. Domestic dogs kill for fun and will kill as many as they can catch. A fox may take one or may kill as many as possible then return to the scene for each body to take back to it's cache. Raccoons will raid and kill everything, etc. Do you see tracks around or fur caught on gates or fencing?
     
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,387
    916
    291
    Dec 25, 2012
    Dogs make a real mess out of killing because they bite, shake and toss their victim in the air. Therefor loose feathers are everywhere. Foxes, coyotes, and weasels don't play so much.

    Because some birds are missing and assumed dead, I vote for a fox, coyote, or bobcat.

    From reading your post I am unsure of your home area. Please enlighten us, where are you located?
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. cutechickies

    cutechickies New Egg

    7
    0
    9
    May 13, 2014
    nepa
    Hi all - thank you for taking the time to respond. Sorry for not mentioning my geographic area - we live in Northeast PA. Well - the weasel was a great guess. My husband cleaned up the mess and called the game commission, they suggested maybe a mink, because we have a lot in this area. I know they are closely related to the weasel. The GC said they only need an opening large enough for a large mouse to fit thru to get in. My husband noticed as he was cleaning up that they actually did all have their heads (some were just tucked under the bodies and looked to be missing), and there was a little bit of blood on some of the neck feathers (but otherwise almost no mess). Also - our 3 missing chickens were in there, dead as well ;-( so we are down to 0. He saved one chicken and put it in a live trap, hopefully we will catch it and see what it is. I'm really just curious. I will update this post if we find out.
     
  6. Cody Pafford

    Cody Pafford Just Hatched

    11
    1
    16
    Aug 16, 2016
    It was probably a weasel. If they're hungry they will kill and drag their meal off to eat it, but if they're not hungry and all the chickens were still in tact, it was most likely killing for game. (Most likely to impress a mate) You probably had a family to come in on your chickens. I've had a weasel kill 3 of mine and decapitate them as well, but that was totally different because they were all killed different days. And I live in Hortense GA, so they've got to more active where you live. You did mention you were down to 0 but if you get a next batch of chickens here's what you want to do! If I were you, I would check the coop before allowing the hens in (if you can). Because you did mention your coop door was automatic so you might be able to beat them to it! Anyways, you probably need to check and make sure there is nothing in there before allowing the hens to roost and what not. And if you find it in there you need to kill it and hang its dead body somewhere out of the coop (You probably think that's weird) but in here in Georgia, That's how we let predators know that it's not a safe area to cross into. Also, make sure there's no holes in the coop for him/her to fit thru to get to your hens. I think your next batch of chickens will be safe with your help! Message me back for any other details! Hope everything works out for ya!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  7. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,239
    462
    151
    Feb 18, 2016
    Missouri
    Turns out weasels, minks, and as per wikipedia, raccoons are all part of the same family:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustelidae

    I think they got it wrong on the raccoons. They are part of a different family tree.

    Another in this bunch are otters. In our area, the Dept. of Conservation re-introduced river otters some years back with the idea they would confine themselves to rivers. Not so. Talked to a guy who ran a commercial fish hatchery and he said river otters would come in an wipe out an entire pond. Catch and kill all the fish in the pond and just toss them up on the bank or a float into a bloody pile and seemingly, just for the fun of it. He shot otters on sight as do a lot of farmers. Most folks who would like to raise fish now see river otters as nothing more than a 40 pound weasel and wish they had never heard of them.

    So anytime you see a multiple kill situation like this one, with lots of dead birds, and even more so if they are in a pile, this is the group to suspect.

    So the question would be what to do about it? About all one can do is tighten up. All openings covered with 1/2" x 1/2" hardware cloth. That is ALL openings. And if these were killed in the daylight hours, that pretty much eliminates free range or any open yard option.

    Provided you were going to monitor them daily, a person living in an infested area might be able to setup a perimeter of weasel traps (rat traps in boxes) to thin the herd. Leave them going year round?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  8. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,426
    299
    198
    Jul 4, 2014
    Maine
    All excellent points and advice. However, I will have to disagree on the option to free range being eliminated (unless local ordinances state otherwise). No matter how secure a coop may be, there's no guarantee something couldn't or wouldn't eventually get through. Yes, there are risks to free ranging but there are always risks when keeping pets/livestock when it comes to predator losses. Free ranging gives the birds much greater opportunities for escape (depending on breed and provided their wings are NOT clipped), whereas confining them just makes it convenient for predators to get them all in one place with minimal effort once they're in, IMO/experience.

    @cutechickies , I am very sorry about your birds and for your son and his friend to be the ones to find them.
     
  9. Millworker26

    Millworker26 Out Of The Brooder

    87
    3
    21
    Jun 25, 2016
    SE PA
    I don't free range. Not sure that I ever will? But I think there's some truth to what you are saying, especially for those with less than ideal enclosure designs. Obviously this wouldn't apply to those with impenetrable coops and runs.
     
  10. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,426
    299
    198
    Jul 4, 2014
    Maine
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by