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Old 04-04-2014, 01:10 PM
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Default Something killing my chickens



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Out of respect for the chicken I am not posting any pictures of the body. I know it is just a chicken, but all life should be respected.

In the past 2 weeks my wife and I have lost 3 chickens. Overall we have lost something like 5 or 6 chickens.

1 Speckled Sussex about a year and a half old
1 Rhode Island Red about a year and a half old
1 Barred rock pullet about 6 7 weeks old
1 Australorp pullet about 6 7 weeks old
1 Black Jersey Giant about a year and a half old


The Speckled Sussex and Rhode Island Red just disappeared. One day they were there and the next day they were gone. No pile of feathers, no blood, no nothing, just gone.

The Black Jersey Giant was a different story. I found it inside the chicken yard half eaten.

The Barred Rock pullet, all I found was some feathers.

The Australorp pullet, something had killed and gutted it.

Chicken Hawks

My first suspect are chicken hawks. On any given weekend early in the morning I can see up to three chicken hawks circling my neighbors house and my cousins house. For some reason they do not circle my house on a regular basis. Maybe it is because my chickens have trees in their chicken yard?

One morning I spotted a very large hawk to the north side of the property, which just happens to overlook the open end of the chicken yard.

I am currently leaning towards a chicken hawk doing the killings.

Dogs

I can not see where the puppies are getting in the chicken yard. My wife saw the puppies kill one of our Australorp pullets. But after that we started keeping the chickens closed up inside the yard.

When the chickens were free ranging the puppies did not bother the full grown chickens. The puppies chased the chickens, but did not grab the full grown hens. The Jersey Giant was not only killed, but half eaten. The puppies have food all the time. So there was no reason for them to kill and eat the hen.

Coyotes


I just do not see a coyote coming this close to the house, and leaving no signs how it got into the chicken yard.

In urban areas coyotes may get near a house. But in rural areas, we do not have to worry about hitting a house so shoot coyotes. Coyotes come around, but they more or less keep their distance.

Raccoons and Opossums

Both of them are nocturnal, but sometimes come out during the day.

For the most part raccoons do not kill chickens anyway. Raccoons want the eggs.

Opossums eat the heads and leave the rest of the body.

I just do not see them killing a chicken, and then the dogs not dragging up part of the chicken a few days later. If a raccoon or opossum kill a chicken, they are not going to eat the whole thing. Whatever is left will be found by the dogs. Then the dogs will drag the body home for a snack.

Last edited by kev; 08-16-2014 at 10:00 PM..
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:13 PM
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I discovered that I had a weasel hitting mine after I finally trapped the little rascal.
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:17 PM
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Only suggestion I have is trail cams around the chickens area to at least see whats taking them then get a plan.
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:18 PM
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Clearly Chupacabras.
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:21 PM
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I watched your video last night, so am I to understand that since it was filmed you lost two other birds? I had the same happen, birds were just gone. Coons want the eggs, dogs seem fine too.

It has to be a hawk etc. Look at all that cover they have in the area with trees. They can just sit up there and wait. For the Jersey Giant, she was left and half eaten either because she was too heavy, or it got spooked.

I am sure it was a bird, what other animal can get into your fenced area and make a chicken disappear with no sign?

Don't get down I lost 4 last year, it is just part of life. The dogs should help with the hawks, maybe get a rooster too
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:22 PM
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Here in Iowa things are apparently very different:

Hawks and eagles are around but aren't a problem. The hawks are mostly too small to attack a full grown chicken. And the eagles prefer fish. Seeing a bald eagle catch a fish in the creek behind our house is pretty impressive.

Coyotes have no problem coming right onto a front porch and our chicken house is a hundred feet away.

Raccoons LOVE chicken and call all of their family to dinner as long as chicken is available.
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:09 PM
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:17 PM
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Lil dogs got my son's chicks. Went under the wire and "played" with them until they didn't look like chickens anymore.

then the ducks got it. But not by the dongs. Finally caught a mink in the area. I like the trail camera idea.
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:26 PM
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A game camera will be constantly taking pictures of chickens until it runs out of space! I can't see how it will help unless you have one on all sides of the outside of the coop only at night and hope you get lucky.

I lose chickens, too. That's why I have extras.
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:31 PM
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if it was a bird of prey there will be a circle of feathers, hawks pluck the feathers off them. I had a skunk get into my chickens last year, they were half eaten, then a few weeks later I caught a coon trying to get a pullet over the wire.
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:54 PM
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Old 04-04-2014, 03:04 PM
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Coons. I have had similar attacks over the last nine years I've kept chickens, only once was it something other than coons.

Set a live trap baited with cat food, you'll be amazed at how many you catch.
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Old 04-04-2014, 03:12 PM
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Kev, sorry for your loss. First, we have chickens and know how sickening it is to find a mutilated chicken. One gone is one too many. IMO, chickens are the single most important source for food, in a SHTF.


However, 3 in 2 weeks is not that bad. We have 100 chickens and that is the norm for us. We just replenish,,,lol.

When losing chickens, it's important to keep a level head and stay logical and not over think this.

A few of my thoughts:
Yes right off the top, you can discount the dogs. They'd tear a hole in the fence and kill them all.

No coon is going to get a chicken during the day, it HAS to be something faster than a chicken. Coons are night time animals and get then while they're roosting.

EVERY single kill leaves something-feathers, blood,parts, something. For there to be NO evidence, they flew away. Hey, it definitely happens. If a chicken isn't fitting in and is getting beaten down every day, all day, for food and water and space and a nest box, and roosting space, etc, they fly. We try to keep our birds clipped but their wings grow fast.

IMO, right now, the main culprit would be the Chicken Hawks. I'd suggest covering a section with chicken wire roof for awhile and see if you lose any more chickens. I bet you won't.
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Old 04-04-2014, 03:14 PM
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I had a pair of bob cats take a full size goose over a fence . very few feathers were found.
The second time the cat broke the other goose neck but didn't kill it ,because I had interrupted the event, I stayed out the next night knowing the cat would be back for the goose and when he showed up I met him with an arrow through him. I finally butchered the remaining goose and had it for dinner .
I rigged a cage for the chickens in the same yard, for automatic opening and closing and included a harbor freight LED battery powered motion sensor light as well .
The second bobcat has only come once sense then and not returned.
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Old 04-04-2014, 03:37 PM
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I had a Bobcat taking ducks, they just vanished without a trace, finally figured out what was happening by finding some tracks by chance. Lost three ducks and a full grown turkey before I trapped that Bobcat. Only critter I ever had kill birds other than coons in nine years.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:17 PM
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Most ground based predators are going to leave a lot of evidence, either in the form of tracks and torn fencing, or shredded chickens. That most of them just vanished with no trace suggest a bird of prey.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:29 PM
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We have a fox we need to shoot or trap. It took a female duck two days ago. We knew the duck was taken sometime between 6pm and 8pm. No sign of a killing.

Yesterday, the fox was here about an hour before sunset. I had all the birds locked up. first it ran all over the pasture, then it headed to the chicken coop, not finding anything, it went to check out the turkey pen. Our ducks were locked in the barn, they're the only ones we've been allowing to free range. We sent our dog out after it, and we found the den, but the den is on someone else's property.

I feel we should just shoot it when it comes on our property, but trapping might be easier. The fox doesn't stand still at all from what I saw.

It's very aggravating losing birds to a predator. I feel your pain Kev.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:42 PM
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Don't forget that a rabid animal would have no fear of approaching near the house. I am so sorry about your chickens. I'm working on Ft. Knox for the fencing around my coop.
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Old 04-04-2014, 07:35 PM
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Don't be too quick to dismiss a coon. Coons got a few of my girls a few years back. Ripped their heads off right through the fence.

Last year I had a hawk come get one of my girls. After that, I took some twine and made a crude sort of net by winding it back and forth around the fence posts to the chicken yard. A hawk wants an easy down and easy up. If it doesn't look like they can get back up in the air easily they are less likely to land.

Set a trap out. Use one of the dead chickens as bait.
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Old 04-04-2014, 09:01 PM
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I've watched on my security camera both coons and foxes climb over my fence to get after either the food or the ducks on the other side...were talking about a 4' fence. So it could have been one of those two that took off with the ones that vanished.
Luckily, I have the ducks in another 6'X10'X8' fenced dog kennel. I have wrapped the bottom with plastic netting (1" squares) around the bottom half to keep sneaky hands from grabbing through the fence or climbing it. The top has a regular tarp secured to it.

Sucks when you lose them. Seems a waste sometimes when they kill something and only eat part of the animal.
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