Who killed Horace the Rooster?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ChickenChuckles, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. ChickenChuckles

    ChickenChuckles Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi everyone,

    I guess it goes without saying in the predator forum, but the photo of a dead rooster below may be disturbing.

    I'm wondering if anyone could help guess what killed my favourite rooster Horace, an Ameraucana, so I can avoid future losses. I discovered his body, half eaten - his head and innards are missing - in the corner of their outdoor run. I don't see any prints in the snow.

    Because we've been incubating eggs, my rooster to hen ratio is off balance (two roos to 11 hens), and I'm wondering if it's possible that my other rooster did it. The remaining rooster is mean to the chickens but doesn't mess with humans. The dead rooster was the dominant one, because he was older and had already been in charge when the other rooster joined the flock. Is it possible it was a cock fight? If so, could a chicken really eat another chicken's entire head? When I found him the chickens were elsewhere in the yard, seemingly oblivious or at least not interested in consuming the carcass. They're all under a year old.

    The run is surrounded by farm fencing with chicken wire on the lower half that spreads onto the ground to deter ground predators, and has loosely spaced twine overhead and a few CDs to deter raptors. We've spotted coyotes, lynx, falcons, hawks, and owls on our property over the last few months, but have experienced no losses until now.

    Thanks for any help you can offer. I don't want to see any other chickens go in such a violent manner, though I know it's nature doing it's thing.

    For what it's worth, may I pause a moment to honour Horace for his kindness to us and his hens, and for likely sacrificing everything to keep his hens safe, right to the end.

    Horace in his glory, albeit not a clear photo him.
    [​IMG]

    How I found Horace today, in case it helps solve the mystery
    [​IMG]
     
  2. poult

    poult Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is not at all from a rooster definitely not.More like a raccoon or skunk.I had a raccoon eat the head & crop of one of my hens & I know it was a raccoon because I spotted him stealing cat food the day before & when he finished the food he apparently wasn't full the next day.Do you have any dogs?
     
  3. Rainekitty

    Rainekitty Out Of The Brooder

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    A large hawk killed one of my hens and ate the head and crop. I don't know if a hawk would eat the innards, but everyone is hungry this time of year and if your run isn't completely covered, it would be easy for a hawk or other flying predator to get in & kill a single bird.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
  4. poult

    poult Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh talking about hawks we found one of our 9 foot tall fence posts with a chicken skeleton on top with only the feet still attached to bone. :confused: I think it was a hawk but not totally sure.Luckily it was the neighbors free-ranged chickens not one of mine.
     
  5. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Your rooster's remains look like the mess that a big feral cat left in my coop when I disturbed him one morning.
     
  6. poult

    poult Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think it really just comes down to this could be from various predators without further clues.
     
  7. Honey B

    Honey B Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A hungry hawk will eat the innards of an animal but it will not eat a chicken crop. The crop is typically filled with grains and hawks are meat eaters. When the hawk gets to the crop they flick it to the side once they taste the inside. I have on occasion seen a hawk strip the lining of the crop from the inside contents and eat the lining while spilling the contents all over the floor. Hawks are much more likely to go after the breast meat. Not sure what killed your rooster but it doesn't appear to be a hawk more likely a raccoon. Hard to tell though, let us know if you uncover any other clues. So sorry for the loss of such a beautiful bird.
     
  8. Honey B

    Honey B Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @poult

    Weird skeleton story. I don't think it was a hawk. They only weigh approximately two pounds and can't lift a full grown chicken. They also consume all the bones that they can swallow. Owl maybe? They are much stronger fliers and can lift two to three times their body weight but they also can crunch through bone. Must have been a spooky find!
     
  9. poult

    poult Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I really have no more clues :confused: It could have been a giraffe as far as I know jk! It wasn't to scary in fact I wanted to leave it their & we did but then it disapeared.I wanted to freak out the neighbors lol!
     
  10. ChickenChuckles

    ChickenChuckles Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the help with the detective work. I know it's always a guess to figure out what it was, but sometimes there are more likely options, and then we know how to reinforce our coop and run more effectively to avoid future losses.

    We live up north in Canada, so we don't have raccoons or skunks, but we do have plenty of other small critters that could find chicken tasty. Weasels are my best guess, we can grow them pretty big up here, and as you mentioned everything's hungry this time of year. We also have lots of hawks and other birds of prey. I'm suspicious of the ravens, which are plentiful, but I wonder if they only feast on abandoned carcasses.

    Mentioning owls and eating bones, it's interesting to note that a large section of bone is missing from the rib cage. Is it possible for common housecats/barncats to be capable of this? Mine were raised as kittens with adult chickens, so they're scared of them (we did that on purpose), and didn't seem the slightest bit interested in eating Horace when I found him. Just sniffed him and walked away. We have a dog, who was with us (so has a solid alibi), but there are many folks who walk their dogs down our street so it's always a possibility, though they'd have to stray pretty far from their human to succeed (200 metres at least). Even with a crust on top of the snow, I'd think I'd have seen prints though.

    Tonight we closed up the coop for the night, just in case. Normally they're free to go in and out as they please 24/7, but I think we'll do some proactive cooping for a bit and hope the culprit finds a wild food source. We've got more acres than I can count of crown forest and swamp lands nearby for them to hunt.

    Thanks again for all your ideas. More are certainly welcomed!
     

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