Who is the culprit?!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by alang, Jul 18, 2016.

  1. alang

    alang Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Found our first dead chicken today when we opened the coop. Someone pulled chicken wire apart at a seam approximately 4 feet up. Small claw marks seen in a strip of foam adjacent to area (will try to get pictures if helps)- cat diameter or slightly larger. Not sure if attack happened between 8 and 9 pm or in middle of night. At 8 on I closed the run door because they free range by day. My son wouldn't sleep so I didn't make it back out until 9:15 to close the run door (usually its closed by 8:30). Everyone seemed fine but I didn't check closely and it was dark. This morning door was 1" up (it's a drop down door on a track, guillotine style)- not sure if it was like this all night or post attack.) There were piles of feathers both inside and outside the door. Everyone roosting was untouched but my broody Marans is plucked on her neck and head with 2 canine teeth type punctures over her jugular. Still alive for now but weak. My broody Orpington is gone but there was a pile of blood tinged feathers under hole in run and my shepherd brought me back 2 wings from the woods behind our home. Assuming nothing else is left. Seems like a cat could not haul an 8+ lb chicken up 4 feet of chicken wire but its an animal small enough that my marans escaped. I had an attack midday of a broody 4 lb Ameraucana who also barely escaped to tell the story- 2" by 1" gaping deep wound where the back of her head was ripped off (could see her spine). Punctures under her throat. We have seen neighbors cat, fox, coyote, and a fisher cat lingering around coop at dusk. No raccoons seen but we back onto over 1000 acres of woods. Who did this? Aside from closing hole, putting latch on door, and aborting bedtime to lock up chickens earlier, anything else I should do? I know it will be back to try. Would a rooster have helped? I have avoided a rooster because I have two small children. My hens are so scared they won't get off their roosts this morning. Aside from half dead hen, only one down is Orpington sister, sitting in her sister's nesting box. So sad and amazing to me that they recognize their blood relatives (we hatched everyone together but only got 2 Orpington hens). Nobody went into the run when I opened the door so I closed it again. We will all mourn today. Sorry for the poorly written message- I'm still in shock.
     
  2. alang

    alang Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All attacked chickens are in nesting boxes and broody. Is that a clue?
     
  3. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry for your loss. If it looks like the opening was pulled apart by small "hands" sounds like the work of a raccoon. I think the canine predators you mentioned would not have stopped at two.
     
  4. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hauling an 8-pound hen up 4' of fencing and dragging through a hole....smallish hole....no mass killing....wings left. Interesting clues.

    An 8-pound hen would be a heavy load for a coon to haul off, much less climb 4' up a fence with...but, a big coon....maybe.

    Fox...could haul it off, good climbers, not sure about prying chicken wire loose, though. Chickens attacked were at ground level....if other chickens stayed on roost maybe the fox couldn't get to them. BUT...pop door only cracked a little. If the pop door was manipulated I'd almost say raccoon.

    Something else that might have happened.... One predator drug the missing chicken off, ate what it wanted and left the carcass in the woods...,a different predator came along and found the carcass and devoured the rest of it, leaving the wings.

    The big thing right now is to secure your coop and run. Fix the pop door so that it is locked and not just shut. Definitely secure the chickens in the coop and be sure it is predator-proof. Electric fences can be a wonderful tool. The coop is the last line of defense.

    Best wishes,
    Ed
     
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Bite wounds on the neck make me think mink or something related (weasel or fisher). I know mink can drag off a full-grown chicken as it happened to my neighbor. Now it's time to beef up your run. Replace or reinforce that chicken wire with welded wire or hardware cloth. Put more welded wire over the top of your run if you can. The broodies may have been the ones attacked because they're the easiest to get at.
     
  6. AllynTal

    AllynTal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I tend to agree with the folks that think raccoon. It does sound like 'hands' at work. It's been my experience that if you "predator-proof" with a raccoon in mind, you'll keep everything else out, too.

    You said that something pulled the chicken wire open at the seam. Is it chicken wire or hardware cloth? Chicken wire will keep chickens in (or out, depending on the application) but is just a mild annoyance for a predator. Chicken wire makes it chicken-proof; hardware cloth makes it predator-proof. (Of course, if the seam is weak, it isn't "proofed."

    Whatever it was, it knows where the buffet is now. If it were my situation, I'd start setting a live trap at night after you put the girls to bed to catch it when it comes back, then SSS it. (Shoot, Shovel, and Shut-up)
     
  7. alang

    alang Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not sure if it was pulled apart or just pushed out in a perfect circle by the exiting offender and my huge chicken.
    Anyone have experience using geese to protect flocks? My mother used them when we were young to guard ducks and said they were great. Less risk to 2 year old eyes than rooster.
     
  8. alang

    alang Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 31, 2015
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    Found this hole 4 feet from coop. Same size as hole in wire. Was on vacation for a week and got back yesterday. Did not walk backside of run yesterday and I'm sure pet sitter did not either last week. Must be new in past week. We have groundhogs and that was my first thought but could it be predator like fox?
     
  9. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Geese (or roosters) aren't going to do much good at night. Birds are pretty helpless at night. Your best bet would be a secure pen for them. My dad had geese until *something* got them one night - we found the 6 carcasses scattered as far as 1/4 from the place.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. alang

    alang Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 31, 2015
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    These are claw marks on foam near opening. My husband had thrown on extra insulation the weekend it was negative 15 this winter.
     

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