What's killing your chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by woodmort, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In my experience I have found that there is basically 4 types of chicken killers.

    Type 1 are the chicken eaters. These include foxes, coyotes, bobcats and large raptors. They will hunt birds for their own meal or to feed their young. While some will break into pens and coops, they prefer to stalk and kill birds in the open. Their favorite time to hunt is dusk and dawn but, if the cover is right and during times when they have young, they will hunt during the day. Usually they only take one or two birds unless they happen to get the flock trapped someplace and then a kill frenzy may occur. As a rule they will only kill a couple and if not disturbed eat one right away then carry off the extra. Often too you will only find a few feathers as proof they have attacked. Strong, high fences, preferably electrified, that have buried wire, clearing bush and hiding places and locking birds up a night will deter these killers. Once they have found a food source, however, they will be back until they have cleaned it out or can no longer access it.

    Type 2 are the chicken pieces and parts eaters. These include raccoons, weasels and mink. They prefer to attack birds that are in a small area where the birds can't escape, generally under cover of darkness when they are roosting. (I have never known of a raccoon attacking a free-ranging. adult bird during the daytime.) They may kill as many as they have time for and eat only part of the body leaving the rest there. Coons, for example, prefer the head and crop while weasels just drink the blood so well that one may not even notice where they slashed the bird's throat. Only by making ones pens tight using hardware cloth and covering any access holes can you protect birds from these predators. Most will take up residence in the area until the chicken population is gone then move on to other kinds of prey. Trapping is a good way to eliminate these animals as well.

    Type 3 are the opportunist. These are black bears, skunks, possums and snakes. Generally they are in search of something around the chicken coop that is good to eat: chicken food and eggs being the most common. If they happen on birds, especially young ones, and can trap it, they will kill and eat some or all of it. Again, predator-proofing the chicken yard and coop will deter these killers--except that bears will break in. You can trap them but, a good thing is, they don't tend to be persistent but will kill and move on.

    Type 4 are the kill-for-fun predators. Most are domestic dogs (feral dogs tend to be Type 1) or human--generally teenage boys. They can attack almost any time or place. They will kill anything that they can reach. While they may eat and/or carry some of the bodies away, there is usually a massacre scene of feathers, blood and body parts. While some of the above use of fence and tight coops may work the best bet is to keep your dogs under close supervision and have the number of the local animal control/law enforcement department handy. Perhaps this kind of loss is the hardest to take because there is never rhyme nor reason to it.
     
  2. obaan1

    obaan1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Excellent post, Woodmort. I always enjoy reading your comments.
     
  3. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks obaan1. I posted these thoughts to help those who have lost chickens to have some idea what may be doing it and prevent further losses.
     
  4. NC29mom

    NC29mom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So we have seen a "fox family" and are assuming our predator is them.....But doesn't really sound like how you described foxes....

    We would find piles of feathers, some chickens dead with just feathers around their neck missing, chickens with no apparant method of death, and a few chickens with their heads bitten off. We also ended up finding the heads to the 2 chickens (that they bit the heads of off). I also found 2 legs scattered about around nothing else. We did find the weak part in the fence. The predator was digging under the fence and coming through. I would estimate about 10-12" wide of a hole. There were some scattered feathers by the opening, making us assume they took at least one with them.

    We assumed the predator came during the night. The pen covers approximatly 1/2 acre. There is a small pond in the enclosure. We found about 4 birds near the pond. We only found about 3-4 near the coop. The rest were either scattered within the pen, or gone completly.

    We have lost about 70 chickens. BO's to be exact.

    What do you think? We set foot traps for the foxes and have hunted them the past few nights (with no avail). Haven't lost any chickens in last 2 nights either....but the coop has also been fixed to be completely predator proof.

    Hmmmmm........maybe we have a coon & foxes???
     
  5. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The only chicken eaters that have gotten in to my pen are snakes. They have not been just opportunists - there are at least two returning on about 3-week cycles. We killed the larger one (seven chicks-or-eggs capacity) and are on the watch for the smaller one (two to four chicks-or-eggs capacity).

    They obviously prefer gobbling up unmoving eggs or chicks at night, as opposed to chasing mice and frogs (which are all over the place this year). I put the mamas and small chicks into a snake-proof cage every night, until they're old enough to roost - which is very early, with their mamas to teach them.
     
  6. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I'd put my money on a coon--especially if you are finding the birds near water. Foxes would carry them off--they do not like to eat in the open.
     
  7. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    I suspect possums for the one's I've lost over they years.

    I've never had a coon come in that part of the yard (as far as I know), but I've trapped LOTS of possums.

    I've killed one Fox, but it didn't get to the birds before I got it.

    The 7 dogs and the electric fences keep out everything SMARTER than a possum ( which is most everything)
     
  8. NC29mom

    NC29mom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I'd put my money on a coon--especially if you are finding the birds near water. Foxes would carry them off--they do not like to eat in the open.

    hmmmm................A COON YOU SAY???? Well, well, well...........guess what we have? 2 COON DOGS! One of my fiance's favorite past times is hunting racoons............. I'll tell him and maybe we'll set the dogs out after dark........
     

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