What's killing my chickens??

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by safayr3, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. safayr3

    safayr3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 21, 2010
    We've had quite a busy week here...5 chickens attacked by an unknown predator. The first day, I noticed an abnormal amount of RIR feathers by the shed, leading UNDER it. I first blamed my rooster for getting a little too frisky with the ladies, but it was just too many feathers to be him. I looked under, and there she was. Her head was unattached from her body. The following day, I came home and found more feathers by the duck pond from a RIR hen, so I followed the trail about 25 feet into the woods and found a big pile of feathers and then her body face down with the head and shoulders eaten. While I was back there I noticed a white pile of feathers about 10 feet away from my white cochin bantam rooster. There was no body. I think he was killed the day before because the feathers were wet and it had rained that night. I did a head count and realized a Barred Rock hen was missing, so I went looking for her. I found a large amount of feathers on the other side of my property, indicating a struggle, and then found her about 10 feet into the woods with feathers all around her. She was alive but badly injured behind her shoulders. As I walked over to the shed, I noticed more Barred Rock feathers and wondered if my other Rock hen had been attacked. I found her hiding in the shed and picked her up to examine her. She had wounds between her shoulders as well, but not nearly as bad. I can't figure out what could be attacking them and leaving them lay. This isn't normal behavior for hawks is it? To keep attacking and leaving their wounded prey? I know a fox would just take the whole carcass away and not just leave a half-eaten one lay. I also didn't think a hawk could drag a chicken that far into the woods. And for a raccoon to get 5 chickens in the middle of the afternoon seems a little far fetched. There are no dogs around either. Whatever it was never bothered the ducks, even though their pond was right by the crime scene. This only happens when no one is home. Either way, the free range has come to an end after 20 years. Any suggestions to what we may be dealing with?
     
  2. Whittni

    Whittni Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like Opossums, it would be a really good idea to keep the chickens in the run and get some hard wire on all sides of that coop and run.
     
  3. Gigi1147

    Gigi1147 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 27, 2013
    Napa, CA
    It sounds like a possum or a fox.
     
  4. safayr3

    safayr3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 21, 2010
    I just examined my hen's back again and under her wing are holes I hadn't noticed before...I'm assuming from a hawk's talons?
     
  5. Gigi1147

    Gigi1147 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 27, 2013
    Napa, CA
    Well, if it was a hawk, I would assume that the hawk would take the hen back to the hawk's nest, could you post a picture of the holes and feathers? Are there bodies everywhere? I strongly believe that it was a fox, because foxes will not eat the chickens. It will just kill them, crazy huh?
     
  6. Gigi1147

    Gigi1147 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 27, 2013
    Napa, CA
    Are their any survivors?
     
  7. Gigi1147

    Gigi1147 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 27, 2013
    Napa, CA
    Also the foxes prob only ate half of the chickens because they do not usually eat it or the whole thing.
     
  8. hrhta812

    hrhta812 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 27, 2009
    Lebanon, IN
    We lost five total over the past few weeks, two were just gone, though we did find a flurry of feathers from one. The others were all killed in the coop and we found each of them wedged in the fencing, as if the body got stuck when the predator was dragging it out. The heads were eaten. We trapped two different foxes within a few days of each other. I think you're dealing with a fox. Possums can't usually drag a bird far, and they will eat the head and usually part of the abdomen. I figured a fox had taken our birds that were completely missing, but I thought we also had a coon killing others at night and trying to drag them out. I just couldn't figure out why the box traps were empty day after day. It was two different foxes, and the second one was bigger and older than the first - too big and too smart for the box traps.

    If you can buy or borrow a game camera, you might be able to find out what it is, and then you can come up with a plan to get it. We were home and even outside when the one bird was taken, not too far away from where she was. One of the other hens showed up nearby us, and was standing there squawking in a panicky way, so I went to investigate, and that's when I found a bunch of feathers. It was still daylight, though later in the evening, but I figured since we were out and about around the property, that the birds would be safe. :(
     
  9. safayr3

    safayr3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 21, 2010
    Yes, there are 2 survivors. This happened over a period of probably 3 days. One barred rock is healing up nicely, the other barred rock has pretty serious wounds. I don't really think a hawk could have picked up either of them. Ava has to at least weigh 8-9 lbs. and Chevelle probably 6 or so. I only found 2 bodies, the banty rooster may have been there and something else picked him up overnight before I knew he was missing. It's happening from mid-morning until early afternoon.
     
  10. Gigi1147

    Gigi1147 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 27, 2013
    Napa, CA
    Okay, Are their any foxes in your area? Where do you live? I think it was a fox, or maybe even a possum.
     

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