Whats eating my chickens?!?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jslug54, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. jslug54

    jslug54 New Egg

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    Aug 17, 2014
    Ok I'm looking for a little bit of advice here. We recently had a number of chickens "disappeared". In all cases the disappearance occurs between about 8am and 5pm. I know the first couple were a fox (or ground predator) because i found the hole under the fence that had a bunch of feathers around it. I patched that hole and everything was good for a few weeks and then 2 more were disappeared on separate days. The first one had a bunch of feathers in an open area but no body. The second pretty much just disappeared without a trace. I've double and triple checked the fence area and found no feathers and no holes under the fence. I'm 99.9% sure nothing is getting under the fence. The fence is about 5 feet tall with no trees hanging over so I'm relatively sure nothing is going over the fence.

    The chickens have about 1/3 of an acre that has a lot of trees but also a lot of wide open area. We do have hawks in the area so I'm starting to get convinced the last 2 must have been a hawk (the chickens happened to be the 2 smallest also).

    I've also set out a fox spring foot trap and put out some dog food within the chicken area. There has been some activity but the trap was never triggered. I'm thinking squirrels but can't say for sure.

    I'm pretty much open to any ideas at this point! Please let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks for the help
     
  2. That sounds like a bird of prey. A hawk maybe?
     
  3. jslug54

    jslug54 New Egg

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    Aug 17, 2014
    Have you lost a chicken to a bird of prey before? Would there be evidence of a struggle or just a missing chicken?
     
  4. I have personally never lost one to a bird of prey, but I have read a lot about predators. Sometimes they will just take off with it, and sometimes the chicken will put up a fight.
     
  5. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Can you post pics of your coop/run setup? This would help us in better determining what might be getting in. Have you seen any footprints? If you have can you post a pic of them? Right off the bat I'm thinking fox or raccoon, but it could be something else entirely without better information. On that hole under the fence that you located, how big was the hole?
     
  6. jslug54

    jslug54 New Egg

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    Aug 17, 2014
    Thanks for the replies.

    I let the ladies free range in the enclosed pen that I described and have a secure coop (haven't lost anyone at night yet at least).

    The hole was very small under the fence where the feathers were found. Maybe 6" tall.
     
  7. sbhkma

    sbhkma Chillin' With My Peeps

    It sounds like the top of your run is open. If that's correct, then there's a LOT of predators that could get your chickens. Climbing or jumping over a 5 foot fence is nothing to a predator that sees chicken dinner on the other side. Also, what is your run made of; hardware cloth, chicken wire or something else?
     
  8. jslug54

    jslug54 New Egg

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    Aug 17, 2014
    Yes the top of the area is uncovered. The fence is hardware cloth.

    I guess I could see a predator possibly getting over a 5 foot fence but I don't see them being able to drag a chicken back over with them. I've yet to find a body or any parts excepts some feathers.
     
  9. Lollie508

    Lollie508 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know if it was a hawk because I lost two hens to a pair of red tailed hawks during the winter. Both chicken's bodies were still there even my old silkie hen who was very light. But early I'm the spring I lost a chick to a Cooper's hawk and was never found. How big were the chickens that were lost? And good luck.
     
  10. Oh, so there was a hole? A weasel can fit through just about anything.
     

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