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  #1  
Old 06/04/11, 09:25 AM
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Lambertville, Mi.
Posts: 108
Something is killing my chickens

About a month ago one of my 1 year old hens disappeared without a trace. Yesterday I was talking on the phone and heard my free ranging birds make a horrible noise. I ran to check the problem and found one of my hens dead, deep in the brush near my barn where the chickens had been turning my compost. The hen had a single bite mark in the middle of her back and appeared to have a broken neck. She had almost no blood loss. The rest of the group scattered and toward evening began showing up at their coop. The rooster has identical marks in the middle of his back, the teeth marks are about 2" apart. One of my hens is still missing, I'm hoping that she is just hiding but I guess I'm expecting the worst. I left the dead hen near the spot of the attack. At about 2am I ran out of gas and went to bed. This morning the carcass is gone (6am). I'm thinking coyote but the mid-day attack surprises me. What are the experts thoughts?

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  #2  
Old 06/04/11, 10:55 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: North Carolina
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Look for tracks, that will tell you what it is.
Sounds from the stealth, it could be a fox.

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  #3  
Old 06/04/11, 10:59 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Between Bryan and Austin, TX
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I think you need to keep the birds penned up. What ever it is will be back.

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  #4  
Old 06/04/11, 12:24 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
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We've had fox go after birds in the afternoon before. They saw him coming and were able to evade him. He came back 3 nights later, killed and stored 4 of my then 6 laying hens.

Fox like heavy brush to hide in. They sit and watch, waiting for their moment, then they rush in grab and take off. Many times if they are interrupted as they are running off, they will drop the bird. Hubby came out of the house just as our fox was running off with the fourth hen. The fox stopped and dropped the hen when hubby came around the corner of the house.

The lady down the street has her chickens in a coop. She would go out to feed and milk in the morning and started noticing a fox watching her from the woodline. Didn't think anything of it because she had 6 LGDs and the chickens never left the coop. One morning her routine got interrupted and she left the coop door slightly ajar to go back to the main barn to get feed. Mr. Sly fox darted in and made off with a hen! The LGDs had followed her back to the barn and that wise ol' fox made the best of it!

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  #5  
Old 06/04/11, 02:41 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Lambertville, Mi.
Posts: 108

Will a fox snap their neck as my chicken appeared? There does not seem to be enough of a bite to kill, it looks more like something shook the bird. I saw something briefly as I was heading into the brush that looked greyish, not absolutely positive but that's what I thought I saw. The missing one is probably gone, there's a pile of feathers about 100' from the hen house. Do fox travel alone or in groups? With one dead, my roo bitten and another hen missing, that's a bunch of chicken for one day!
The last live hen that we found was hunkered down with my 3 mo. old pigs. Smart chicken.
BTW the 20 ga. is now in the barn and the .22 by the back door....game on...

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Last edited by rmrc; 06/04/11 at 02:43 PM.
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  #6  
Old 06/04/11, 06:14 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 558

We had this problem for several years, and ours was a silver fox. Gray, and larger than a red. He was so bold, I came out to the corral one day and there he was, standing in all his glory, right next to the water trough. I hotfooted it back to the house for a gun, but when I came back (he was STILL there) he knew something was up and took off into the tall grass and I never got a shot. Another time he came in and snatched a guinea hen off her keets about an hour after sunup, and only about 50 yards from me. He could HEAR me outside puttering around doing chores, talking to the critters, and he came right into the center of our 15 acres to grab that hen. The mayhem was indescribable. The guinea roosters and the other hens screaming, all the orphaned keets running this way and that, screaming, and oh, it went on for HOURS. It was heartbreaking.

We had no luck whatsoever "hunting" him. That guy was WAY smart. When we got our first Pyrenees, he would go around him and snatch hens, and yes, he'd do it in broad daylight. They're feeding babies right now, so the food requirement is high. They're usually in pairs, the female staying near the den with her babies, and the male going out to hunt. As far as I know, when the babies are old enough to hunt for themselves, they'll leave home and go stake out a territory of their own and search for a mate.

When we got our second Pyr, SHE was a bit smarter in the ways of predator control, and she never barks when she's chasing. So since getting her, with her stealth habits, and the two dogs working in tandem, we haven't lost any chickens to foxes. I know they still live over the ridge, because I can hear them occasionally, but they've wisely decided to eat cottontail instead of chicken. I hope that big silver fox died of old age by now. (The first time my husband saw him, he thought he was a coyote, too.)

~Lannie

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  #7  
Old 06/04/11, 07:43 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmrc View Post
Will a fox snap their neck as my chicken appeared? There does not seem to be enough of a bite to kill, it looks more like something shook the bird. I saw something briefly as I was heading into the brush that looked greyish, not absolutely positive but that's what I thought I saw. The missing one is probably gone, there's a pile of feathers about 100' from the hen house. Do fox travel alone or in groups? With one dead, my roo bitten and another hen missing, that's a bunch of chicken for one day!
The last live hen that we found was hunkered down with my 3 mo. old pigs. Smart chicken.
BTW the 20 ga. is now in the barn and the .22 by the back door....game on...
Fox will kill and then store the chickens away. Ours was a single male that took four adult hens in a single morning and probably would have taked the other 2 if not interrupted.

The last hen we recovered from the fox, was missing it's head. He had removed the head and consumed it, before carrying her off. I guess to be assured his supper wasn't going to get up and run off.

Could it have been a domestic dog? Sometimes they'll do a frenzied kill, where they run around and just snatch and shake anything they get a hold of.
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  #8  
Old 06/04/11, 08:26 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NC Arkansas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmrc View Post
I'm thinking coyote but the mid-day attack surprises me. What are the experts thoughts?
I'm no expert, but this is my own experience:

A fox took a couple of my hens a few years ago. Both attacks were in daylight hours, and both hens had their throats ripped out.

Coyotes pass through the property day and night. It's usually mid-morning or early evening when the lone 'yote will trot through. The coyotes won't pass up a chicken as they pass through during the day. My chickens are secured at night, so I don't worry about night time predators.

Daytime predators I see here are coyote, bobcat, and a domestic cat that belongs to a neighbor down the road. :
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  #9  
Old 06/05/11, 09:40 AM
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 52

my birds have the run of the place,i expect to loose a bird here and there to predators.Thats why i prefer my mega mutt,hen raised way smart birds.i have lost waaayyy more birds to neighbor dogs on a frenzy."my dog would never do such a thing"all the way to"well if they wouldn't run,he wouldn't chase them"

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  #10  
Old 06/05/11, 12:44 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: WI
Posts: 65

2" is a pretty wide bite mark. Being a trapper, I have a lot of different skulls around, so I measured the distance between canine teeth on some coyotes and the widest I came up with was 1 1/4". I also measured the teeth on my Springer Spaniel (he puts up with a lot) and the distance was 2". So it could have been a huge coyote or a dog.

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  #11  
Old 06/06/11, 09:27 AM
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: NJ
Posts: 143

I have lost my 2 best male guineas to a fox . We have not been able to get him. I have 2 hens left that call for them nonstop. I am going to pen them in for a while and maybe get bantams. The guineas' range was so far my dog could not help. DH is all into shooting him but I have my horses out. Foxes wait for the oppurtunity. We are so sad about it. It is so hard to free range- they are such great tick eaters though.

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  #12  
Old 06/06/11, 09:44 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Kentucky
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Sounds like it may be time to set a couple of traps out.

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  #13  
Old 06/06/11, 10:24 AM
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We've lost chickens to coyotes in the middle of the day before. I'm sorry your chickens were killed and I sure hope you find what did it so you can dispatch it!

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