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Last night I was walking around doing some videos for a flashlight review when I saw one of my Delaware chickens outside the chicken house and outside the chicken yard.

When you see a chicken on the ground running around at night, they are usually trying to get away from something inside the chicken house.

I started running to the chicken house and heard a chicken that was upset and flying around the inside of the house.

Whatever was in there heard me and took off, because nothing was there.

Half my flock was outside the chicken house, which is a bad sign.

There were feathers in the chicken yard, like a chicken had been dragged off.

The fence is field fence and 4 feet tall. The gaps in the fence are not large enough for a dog or coyote to go through, but a coyote could probably go over it.

This is not an opossum, they will usually eat the chickens in the chicken house.

House cats will usually not bother full grown chickens.

At this time I am guessing a raccoon.

Going to set several live traps, hopefully I will catch it.

 

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Red White and Blue
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6,251 Posts
hope you nail the little thief.
keep us posted.
fox maybe?
 

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Survivor
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I have found the best deterrent is to close the chicken coop every night after the chickens go to roost. I even made a self closing door on a wind up clock timer for times when we weren't going to be home until late. Doesn't work for bears though, they just rip the doors or walls off.
 

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LEGAL citizen
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15,269 Posts
Coyote will laugh at a 4 foot fence. They can jump over a 6 footer, as can many dogs. If you don't have a contained run, I agree with the above and close them up tight at night. Look around and see if you have any owl feathers around. Now is about the time they are leaving the nest and hunting on their own. Owls can get pretty dang large and aggressive. Sometimes they take the whole chicken and sometimes they eat a portion and leave the rest.
 

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Banned
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Kev, I'm in your general area and I'm inundated with ***** right now. I was noticing this morning all the foot and toe prints in the sandy dirt around my chicken pen.

And for whatever it's worth, possums do very little actual killing of mature birds, at least in my experience. I think they get a bad rap for killing. They will kill smaller birds, chicks, and definitely eat eggs, but in my experience of keeping birds some 35 years, it's rare that a possum will kill a mature bird.

I'd look for any possible route a **** could get in. It's shocking how small an opening a young **** can cram itself through. If you suspect a bird being carried off, that's almost always a ****, or larger predator like fox or large feral cat, dog, etc.

Check the dirt around your pen for footprints.

Something else---a few years ago I was missing eggs. I'd get zero eggs, so I knew something was up but I never found anything--****, possum, snake, nothing. Then one night I put the birds up and started to walk away and heard a commotion. I went back and found a young **** inside the pen. After dispatching it, I was looking around and found where it had made itself a little sleeping spot up UNDER my metal nesting box, back between the 1x4 I had the nest box hanging on and the metal siding. It had gone inside the pen sometime and was basically living in there, and I didn't see it because it was concealed. I had unknowingly shut it in with the birds every night for at least five or six days!

Good luck, I hate it when I have to start shooting *****.
 

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CA Conservative
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I caught an opossum in the hen house in the act. Shot it. The great black had lost the back half of her butt and I was ready to put her down. My daughter has become too attached to these birds, I've tried, sigh. Anyway, I gave her the choice. Quick death, extremely expensive vet surgery or you sew her up! I was thinking she would balk and say quick death, wrong.
It took my little darlin' two and a half hours to sew the chcken's butt back together. The only thing left holding her together was her internal organs. I quickly learned a lot about survival and my preps in this episode. One, people have a lot more blood than chickens and my great medical and first aide supply was exhausted in one two hour surgery session. Two, sewing silk is a good substitute, buy sutures! Three, pain killers are a must. I luckily had lidocaine RX strength. You have to live through the surgery to heal.
Darlin's big burly hubby held that hen for two hours while she put her pre-med degree to good use. I was the surgical nurse. We all learned a lot.
My last take away, I have a trail cam and I am more vigilant about predators. If SHTF, we will be more realistic about medical issues. And, if SHTF, we will need every single chicken!
P.S. The Great Black is doing well 2 years post surgery, lays her egg every day on schedule. She has outlived all her sisters but is no longer the pre-opossum glossy black, her back half is slightly gray tinged from the trauma. Still loves to be held.
 

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I bought a section of chain link gate at the hardware store and put it on top of my run. Then I fastened it down because raccoons are pretty strong.

It worked. Which is a good thing because even if you get that raccoon, more are born every year.
 

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<--My Faverolle Chicken
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If your chicken yard is not self contained anything can find a way in...you want Ft Knox when it comes to chickens. Everything loves chicken (and ducks). I second the advise of closing up that coop pop hole at night.
One time I had baby raccoons find their way in my duck pen. It is a chain link dog kennel. Had to wrap that in plastic 1" netting and zip tie it to the kennel - that has worked well keeping ***** grubby paws out. Glad I have a security camera set up to alert me when there is a commotion out there.
 

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I’ve had a lot a trouble with land-lubber mink. They like to kill, and can squeeze through small spaces. In the past, the ‘possum were only sucking eggs, but they didn’t mess with the hens. My solution was to fully enclose the coop and pen in wire. No more problems.

When I set a live trap, I caught feral cats, *****, possums and skunk.
 
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