LambeauLeap1250 WSSP


  
 [ 12 posts ]  New Topic   Add Reply

What killed my chicken?

Author Message
Offline  What killed my chicken?
#1

Posted: October 28, 2019, 7:04 AM Post

Tom Petty Apologist
Posts: 498
Good morning BF.netters. If anyone here keeps chickens you know the challenges of keeping them safe from predators. I got 5 four-month old pullets from a friend in early August. I bought them a larger coop from Tractor Supply and built a 24x10 foot run all around it with 6 foot walls. The walls are covered top to bottom with hardware cloth and chicken wire. I have welded wire flaring out from the base of the run (which is made of 4x4 treated lumber) about 2-3 feet as a predator apron. Up until yesterday I did NOT have a roof of any sort.

I had come into the weekend with plans to finish the roof on Sunday (which I did), I had the joists all cut and in my garage, I was just waiting for good weather and an additional person to help me hang them. Unfortunately Saturday brought the beginning of hockey season for my family, an away game about an hour away. We had to leave at 3 to get there, I anticipated being home before 9. I did not want them without food and water from 3pm until morning which they are let out between 7-8am.

I had been putting the chickens (and ducks, I have 2 pekins as well) to bed, obviously earlier and earlier as the season changes, and it has gotten to be about 6:00 or 6:30 pm, but when I put them to bed the ducks are in their house and the chickens roosting in their coop, so all I do is close the doors and latch them.

I stupidly believed they would all do that and sit semi-protected in their houses until I got home to close them up. The weather driving home Saturday night from Milwaukee was miserable, driving rain non-stop and awful visability. We didnt get home until 9:30.

When I went out the put them to bed I was devastated to find one my my chickens, a cinnamon queen who had been my best layer and the obvious alpha of the flock dead in the middle of the run. She was the sweetest and friendliest chicken and would greet me at the door and hound me until I picked her up. I did not examine her body for trauma, as I was too upset, but the bottom line is that her body looked more or less well intact, however she was missing her head, the head was gone, not in the coop or run. All of the other chickens and both ducks were in the chicken run. The chickens in their coop (which was still open and unlocked) and the ducks just standing in the run (the door to their house had been left closed inadvertantly) and nobody else had so much as a scratch on them.

My research has lead me to identify many possibilities. First, the ground predators. 3 I can think of off the top of my head. 1) Racoon 2) possum 3) weasel. I know we have the first two in our neighborhood, which is on the outskirts of town (oshkosh) and in a heavily wooded subdivision. I have never seen a weasel out here but I am sure they are out there. I do not believe any of these predators killed my chicken, as it sounds like all 3 would have done much more damage to the rest of the flock. I do know that whatever came in, came over the top and into the run as their is no digging of any sort (predator screen prevents that and I checked yesterday) and none of the chicken wire or hardware cloth was compromised.

Air predators - we have tons of hawks, bald eagles, and large owls in all of these enormous trees. Obviously I do not know the time that she was killed, but as I said, her body was not picked apart at all, there were a small amount of feathers near her body and her head was gone and missing from the coop. My research and hypothosis was that this was an owl attack as I think a hawk would have picked her apart more. I put my roof on yesterday, as planned, but one day too late obviously, and I know whatever killed my chicken will be back for more and I want to figure out what it was so I can make sure the run is sufficiently protected going forward.

Thanks for reading.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#2

Posted: October 28, 2019, 7:14 AM Post
Posts: 12183
Raccoon...and they will come back for more if you don't protect them.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#3

Posted: October 28, 2019, 8:04 AM Post
User avatar
Posts: 9507
MrTPlush said:
Raccoon...and they will come back for more if you don't protect them.


Yep, raccoon is my guess as well, although I know of possums, minks and skunks all doing this very thing. We have chickens and ducks as well and have lost a few over the years to predators. We have fox, weasels, raccoons and coyotes around. If it were a fox or coyote, they would take the whole bird. Not raccoons, though. Raccoons are dicks.

Also could be an owl. Owls will take the head off prey at times, then come back for the rest when the coast is clear.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#4

Posted: October 28, 2019, 8:59 AM Post

Tom Petty Apologist
Posts: 498
First, i put a complete roof on yesterday and double checked all the chicken wire and hardware cloth.

A few more details, questions...

The back of the coop, where you open to get to the nesting box was open, which could indicate something initially took place in the coop itself (an altercation that would have bumped it open perhaps?). However, I found no feathers or blood in the coop at all. The chicken looks like she was killed where her body was, which is why I thought owl perhaps. If it were well after dark I am relatively confident they would have been in the coop. My chicken that was killed though, being a bit of a busy body would from time to time be a bit of a straggler getting in, but lately all 5 of them have been in the coop on the roosting perch when I put them to bed.

Raccoons are complete dicks, but I also thought they would at least try to kill/maim more than 1 if they attacked. I have read however that they do kill just one on occasion.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#5

Posted: October 28, 2019, 9:07 AM Post
User avatar
Posts: 9507
JackNicholson1974 said:
First, i put a complete roof on yesterday and double checked all the chicken wire and hardware cloth.

A few more details, questions...

The back of the coop, where you open to get to the nesting box was open, which could indicate something initially took place in the coop itself (an altercation that would have bumped it open perhaps?). However, I found no feathers or blood in the coop at all. The chicken looks like she was killed where her body was, which is why I thought owl perhaps. If it were well after dark I am relatively confident they would have been in the coop. My chicken that was killed though, being a bit of a busy body would from time to time be a bit of a straggler getting in, but lately all 5 of them have been in the coop on the roosting perch when I put them to bed.

Raccoons are complete dicks, but I also thought they would at least try to kill/maim more than 1 if they attacked. I have read however that they do kill just one on occasion.


Raccoons are are also known to grab a chicken through the fence and rip the head off. Do you have hardware cloth surrounding the whole thing? A raccoon can get a chicken's head through chicken wire.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#6

Posted: October 28, 2019, 9:09 AM Post

Tom Petty Apologist
Posts: 498
Half inch hardware cloth all the way around. Whatever came on came over the top.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#7

Posted: October 28, 2019, 9:11 AM Post
User avatar
Posts: 9507
JackNicholson1974 said:
Half inch hardware cloth all the way around. Whatever came on came over the top.


I'm thinking an owl then. Roof should take care of your issue.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#8

Posted: October 28, 2019, 10:57 AM Post
User avatar
Posts: 649
I have a friend in Northern Illinois that has had issues with the loss of his chickens. He said there were some hawks in the area. Follows along the same lines as an owl, I suppose.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#9

Posted: October 28, 2019, 11:17 AM Post
Posts: 3501
My brother had one of his chickens killed in a similar way by his other chickens. Odd.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#10

Posted: October 28, 2019, 12:22 PM Post

Tom Petty Apologist
Posts: 498
stoutdude04 said:
My brother had one of his chickens killed in a similar way by his other chickens. Odd.


That sounds awful, but these 5 were all the same age (about 7 mos now) and the one that was killed was the leader of the flock. Plus, the head wasn’t just off, but not in the run or anything.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#11

Posted: October 28, 2019, 1:02 PM Post
Posts: 12183
Predatory birds want the brain, good nutrients for the winter.


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Offline  Re: What killed my chicken?
#12

Posted: October 28, 2019, 7:51 PM Post
User avatar
Posts: 649
Have you seen Rudy in the area?

Image


 Top
 
Quote   Reply 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 [ 12 posts ]  New Topic   Add Reply
  


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search this forum (phpBB search):
Jump to:  
Search entire board (Google search):
Google
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
Test