What's killing my chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by inovermyhead, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. inovermyhead

    inovermyhead New Egg

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    Jul 20, 2007
    Hampstead, NC
    Three days ago, two of my 6 week chicks were found dead in their house. They were intact, but a lot of their feathers had been pulled out. Their house is raised off the ground several feet, but has a little ladder that leads up to it. We never got around to putting wire across the top of the chicken pen like we meant too, so we were probably asking for trouble. We've had chickens now for almost four years though and never had a predator problem except the neighbors dogs one time. Since that happened, we took out the wire that separated them from the big chickens so they could all go into the building at night they roost in. I closed up the hole leading to their building the first night and everything was fine the next morning. Last night, like an idiot I checked on the chickens twice before I went to bed to make sure they were all put up, but forgot to cover the hole leading into their building. This morning I found one of my hens dead laying on top of the roost boxes where all four of my big chickens lay at night. There aren't any marks on her anywhere and everyone else is okay. We have woods behind our property, but the only thing we've ever seen out there is possum which likes to eat the dog food that's stored on the other side of the building. We had one that came out regularly, which we trapped and took off. I haven't seen any since. We've got the trap set tonight, but I'm a nervous wreck sitting here waiting since I'm not sure what's doing this. My husband works at night and there's no moon out tonight, so I'm not too keen on walking out to the coop. Anyone have any ideas on what would be killing the chickens, but not eating them?
     
  2. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    Could be a possum or a raccoon not sure but I've had raccoons kill my birds and just leave them laying. Had 6 in one night few years ago. Hopefully you will catch it tonight good luck.
     
  3. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

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    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    Don't rule out a snake.

    Many snakes consrict or strangle their prey, leaving no marks.

    The chicken may have been too big for it to swallow.
     
  4. inovermyhead

    inovermyhead New Egg

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    Jul 20, 2007
    Hampstead, NC
    My husband checked the pen for snakes this morning after I found the dead hen, but if there was one in there, it was already gone. Where they sleep at night isn't really snake proof, so now I have something else to worry about!

    We have three large yellow labs that I normally like to keep out in the yard at night, but they've gotten bad about digging under the fence, so they have been staying in their dog run. By keeping them put up at night, I think we've given something free rein to the chicken coop. I started to let them out tonight, but I'm hoping if there's some kind of animal out there, we'll catch it in the trap.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Wolfpacker

    Wolfpacker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 7, 2007
    Raleigh
    Something killed three of mine last year in a similar way, but just took the heads. No blood anywhere and the rest of the body was in perfect shape.

    Everyone has said possum or coon. I'd like to know how and why it does it without the chicken pitching a fit and flapping all over the place.
     
  6. chickaboo7

    chickaboo7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 18, 2007
    Manahawkin NJ
    I asked a guy who takes in wild life and he said possums are to lazy to bother chickens they are garbage pickers. I've had opossums eating my chicken feed at night and have never had any problem. Good luck !! I hope you find your problem.
     
  7. inovermyhead

    inovermyhead New Egg

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    Jul 20, 2007
    Hampstead, NC
    I finally got up the nerve to check the trap last night after my last post. Sure enough, there's a possum in it. Now I don't know if he's the culprit or not, but he's getting hauled off to a new home far away. We swore up and down we were going to kill whatever did this, but in the light of day I think I'll feel better just taking it away. We'll be setting the trap every night now though, just to see if anything else is coming up. This has also finally convinced my husband that it's time to get the top on the chicken pen.
     
  8. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Im so glad you caught that pesky possum. UGH. I thought they would kill chickens as well. Hmmm..either way. hope this ends your problems. And so sorry for your loss. It never gets easier.
     
  9. Ferrn

    Ferrn Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 9, 2007
    Texas
    inovermyhead, we too are losing our birds. We lost 3 one evening about a week and 1/2 ago then another last evening. I'm just so sad because these are my 6 y.o.'s pets. Ours happens like this - they are around during the day, leave the house in the evening to run to town, come home to find all the girls in the coop but strangely one is missing. We looked and looked last night. We looked again today and found a wing portion and feathers of one of the birds we lost previously but no body or bones. [​IMG] I am just so bummed. I feel like you did too that if I find what is killing my birds, I want to kill it too!! We have decided if we leave in the evening prior to roosting time, we are going to lock them up in the pen area!! So sorry for you!!!

    jen
     
  10. inovermyhead

    inovermyhead New Egg

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    Jul 20, 2007
    Hampstead, NC
    Thanks for all the replies. We set the trap again the last two nights & haven't caught anything, so maybe the possum we caught the first night was the culprit. You can believe I've learned my lesson & will make sure the chickens are closed up every night in their house.
     

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