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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Arundel, Maine USA
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    1,207

    Default chicken casualties -HELP!!!

    about 3 months ago, we lost 4 chickens. What ever it was, it was taking the chickens after dusk or at night, and eating the heads, necks and maybe a little breast meat. Everything else was left. We started closing the doors at night, and opening them up in the morning. This worked for awhile, until about a week ago when we notice we were missing another chicken. Then tonight, 3 more are gone. We are closing up the chickens before it gets dark. The chickens went missing during the day.

    Does anybody know what predator is doing this? I want to build a portable chicken pen so the girls can still have access to grass and bugs. The husband says it won't work unless it's on completely flat ground Keeping them permanently enclosed is NOT an option. But nether is letting my chickens get picked off one at a time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    9,123

    Default

    [SIZE="3"]I know weasels and members of that family
    can devastate a chicken house. They are one nasty
    predator to be sure.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Fairfield, Virginia
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    1,002

    Default

    First what predators do you have there. I suppose a fox, racoon, hawk, eagle. I'm thinking something small.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
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    Default

    Mmmmmmm.........

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Whitefield, Maine USA
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    6,624

    Default

    Hard to say. Where you live I'd say raccoon but raccoons are nocturnal, you're not generally going to see them out chasing chickens during the day. Not many critters will take chickens during the day unless they're pretty brazen. Could be a hungry fox or dogs, or even coyotes.

    Seen any tracks?
    Dulcius ex asperis

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Arundel, Maine USA
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    Default

    We have fox, racoons, weasels, bobcat, dogs, hawks, fishers (cats), owls, skunk, coyote, This definitely happened during the day. Usually when a checken gets attacked, there are feathers everywhere. The chicken that went missing a week ago, there were no feathers. The other three that went missing today there were only a few feathers. a couple months ago when we lost the four, we ended up seeing fox tracks in the snow. But I've heard that racoon eat only the heads, but I saw the fox tracks. I'm so confused! On top of that, I though most of these predators were only ight time. What gives? Does anyone know how to trap these predators?
    Last edited by hummingberd; 03-16-2007 at 07:47 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

    Default

    here's the "beesource" of chickens

    http://backyardchickens.com/

    lots of info on predators
    I got 80 chicks today
    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/DSC01595.JPG

    Dave
    Last edited by drobbins; 03-16-2007 at 08:35 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Arundel, Maine USA
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    1,207

    Default

    Thanks for the board URL. i really appreciate that! I'm going to make some posts, but would still love to hear peoples ideas about portable fencing...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    7,923

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    I don't know what your bobcat population is up there, but it has exploded here in Texas. We have a friend who is a taxidermist, and he has gotten more bobcats in the last six months than he has in many years. DH used to have chickens in his former life, and he said one of the worst problems he had with keeping them was raccoons. How about domestic cats? We bought guineas about fifteen years ago because they supposedly keep the snake population down, and we have lots of copperheads on our property. Anyway, we have a manx cat who is now very old, but in his youth, he was quite the hunter. The old farmer that sold us the guineas said quite confidently that the cat would not be able to kill the guineas because guineas were too wary and quick. We long story short, we had no guineas left within two weeks. Our cat managed to kill them all off, and it wasn't for lack of food. He has been out "pet" since he was a kitten. Anyway, just a couple of things to consider.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
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    3,406

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hummingberd View Post
    would still love to hear peoples ideas about portable fencing...

    I had the same problem with dogs picking off my chickens. I tried putting up a fence but it did not take the predators very long to figure out how to dig and squeeze under the fence. My losses did not stop until I dug a trench about 8" deep and reset the fence with the bottom 8" buried in the trench.

    If you are not going to set up a permanent fenced area then you will probably need to plan on trapping the predators. Also, look up once in a while... your problem may have feathers.
    To everything there is a season....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    S.E. Oklahoma
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    337

    Default

    My experience in the six years or so we've been running "Old McDonalds Farm" is this....
    1. Birds taken during the day with scattered feathers often with just the guts and some breast meat missing- Hawk,
    2. Birds taken during the day/night with very little feathers scattered (often with multiple losses in a single night- I've lost as many as 12 during one raid. There might be a few feathers scattered in the field towards the forest)- Coyote (Note: if you get a multiple attack where the birds are just GONE one night....load the firearm of choice and THREE days later right at sundown lay in wait with a clear/safe field of fire. Try your darndest to shoot the LAST coyotes in the pack as they will be the oldest),
    3. Birds found dead (killed at night) with heads missing and possibly lightly eaten- Great Horned Owl, Raccoon, Oppossum.

    Note: the above does not apply to the smaller Bantam breeds as they are tiny enough ANYTHING can carry them away.

    David

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
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    2,115

    Default

    With your chickens being killed during the day and the way they are fed on my best guess would be Hawk. We have had red tailed hawks nesting by our blueberry patch for several years and I will find rabbits and young raccoons attacked is such a manner. Nobody around here has chickens but if they did hawks would be a problem, I have seen them pounce on a rabbit and was a little surprised because I hadn’t even notice them circling . Their population has been increasing steadily over the last decade or so.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Arundel, Maine USA
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    I know it's not dogs. Dogs "generally" don't eat the chickens they just enjoy chasing them. You'll see lots of feathers everywhere, and find the chickens whole w/out parts missing. They seem to just die of fear. Our cats have lived harmouniously w/the chickens for a very long time. Our youngest cat used to chase the girls, but now they've grown and the tides have turned, and at any given time of the day you can look outside and see about 5 chickens at a time, chasing after a furry white streak! It's really funny...

    I guess fox, raccoon, skunk, and weasel all do the same sort of damage. They seem to eat the necks and part of the breast meat and leave the rest. It aggravates me that they have to kill 3-4 chickens so they can eat the necks. I understand that wild animals have to eat, but they seem wasteful!

    I guess I'm going to have to do some trapping. Perimeter fence isn't really a chioce cuz of $ we have almost 7 acres! Trapping is difficult because besically I don't know much about it and fox, I've been told are very clever, and difficult to catch. Also, we have other animals running around. ie cats, dogs, etc...so live traps are the only option which makes it even more complicated. predators are extremely frustrating!!! They make having chickens a complicated thing.

    Does anyone have a design for a portable shetler that can be used over slightly uneven ground?

    Thanks...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
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    2,115

    Question

    If your are having so much predatory activity you should be able to find some tracks or run ways that they are coming and going by. Sounds like a little scouting is in order.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    I didn't think of hawks, but that's a good possibility too, if you have them in your area. The lady that I buy eggs from had to cover her entire chicken house (and it is very large) with wire mesh because hawks were decimating her chicken population.

  16. #16
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    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
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    4,074

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hummingberd View Post
    I know it's not dogs. Dogs "generally" don't eat the chickens they just enjoy chasing them. You'll see lots of feathers everywhere, and find the chickens whole w/out parts missing. They seem to just die of fear. Our cats have lived harmouniously w/the chickens for a very long time. Our youngest cat used to chase the girls, but now they've grown and the tides have turned, and at any given time of the day you can look outside and see about 5 chickens at a time, chasing after a furry white streak! It's really funny...

    I guess fox, raccoon, skunk, and weasel all do the same sort of damage. They seem to eat the necks and part of the breast meat and leave the rest. It aggravates me that they have to kill 3-4 chickens so they can eat the necks. I understand that wild animals have to eat, but they seem wasteful!

    I guess I'm going to have to do some trapping. Perimeter fence isn't really a chioce cuz of $ we have almost 7 acres! Trapping is difficult because besically I don't know much about it and fox, I've been told are very clever, and difficult to catch. Also, we have other animals running around. ie cats, dogs, etc...so live traps are the only option which makes it even more complicated. predators are extremely frustrating!!! They make having chickens a complicated thing.

    Does anyone have a design for a portable shetler that can be used over slightly uneven ground?

    Thanks...
    Hawks during the day, this is where some gunieas would come in handy, as your chickens would get used to the warning calls gunieas make when a hawk flies over.

    The night time raids are either coon or wesiels. The the only way to control the coon is to lock your birds up during the night, this will also work for wesiels if you have a secure building to put them in. The only other choice you have is to get rid of the birds, as these critters will keep coming until the food bar is empty.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Falconer, NY
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    206

    Default

    Dont rule out cats, house, barn or wild.... there all little killing machines. seen a weasle in my barn a couple a weeks ago. pure white, of course, this time a year....

    sounds like you should dig up some traps.

    good luck

    tom

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Arundel, Maine USA
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    The attacks during the night have stopped because the birds are safely locked up in their house! I was just so surprised that they disappeared during the day! We didn't hear anything, and really it was tough to tell what was going on because we got snow cover. Obviously the tracks were covered up by accumulation. I'm thinking about camping out on the roof of the coop. Don't know how to shoot a gun, but I'll figure it out! Now there is a crusty snow outside, so there is no hope of catching tracks isn't going to happen for awhile! The only tracks we have seen are from a fox when our first couple of chickens went missing. One night, after the first attack my husband was watching tv and heard a chicken squeal. apparently when we locked the doors one of the girls got locked out and she was being preyed upon. the hubby ran to the door and scared away what ever it was. He grabbed the threewheeler and drove around the perimeter of our property. out by the beehive was one scared, submissive chicken. She was still alive and unhurt, though missing a few feathers. That was a lucky break for us!

    We have seen lots of fox "around these parts" so I'm not convinced that its not a fox. especially since we saw the tracks. So, I'm going to the trading post today to load up on traps and see if I can't take care of this problem! Grrrrr....

    uncletom interesting you mentioned the weasel. This time last year we found a pure white weasel dead on our lawn. The youngest of our housecats took care of him!
    Last edited by hummingberd; 03-18-2007 at 10:27 AM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Wausau Wi
    Posts
    311

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    as far as dogs go....my ma had one that liked the taste of chicken. Till we hooked up a dead one onto a lectric fence. that son of a .... took one bite and really grounded out bad. Never touched another chicken as long as he lived. He tried to take an axle out of a farm truck but it was much bigger than he was. It was a sad day. He sure liked to chew on them trucks. If your dog does, tell him to make sure they are stopped first. lol
    Everything happens for a reason. Time heals all wounds - time and a half heals them even faster

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Farmington, North Carolina
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    255

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    Quote Originally Posted by Focus on Bees View Post
    as far as dogs go....my ma had one that liked the taste of chicken. Till we hooked up a dead one onto a lectric fence. that son of a ....
    My daughter has a dog like this. It's a little "foo-foo" Bishon. When he was a puppy he took down and killed a goose that was probably 2-3 times his weight. I kept him for her while she was traveling a couple of weeks ago and I turned by back on him for about five minutes and he killed one of my chickens. Around people, even children he is as gentle as can be but apparently he has no repect for things with feathers.

    The electric fence idea sounds effective. I'd try it on this dog but it might just be too effective!

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