Something's killing my chickens

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by JayinCT, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. JayinCT

    JayinCT Well-Known Member

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    Also posted in poultry, but I'm desperate to find out what to do.

    Sunday morning I found my large rooster dead. It was too bad as he was the one that really guarded the hens. I figured something made him sick, and he died being there was really no sign of anything eating him.

    Well, this morning I had 4 dead chickens. Another rooster, and 3 hens. To make matters worse, I have 3 live chickens walking around with heads that look like they have been in a meat grinder.

    After a closer inspection, it looks like there is trauma to the neck of the dead chickens. With that being said, I'm really leaning toward a weasel. I used chain link fence to build my chicken yard, and buried it 12 inches in the ground, so something is either climbing over it, or going through it. No feathers scattered around, just a bunch of messed up chickens.

    My question is, I have always been told weasel's bite the neck, and suck the blood out of the chicken. If that's what's happening, what do I use for bait to catch it? Any tips on catching weasels? I have no obvious holes where he is getting in, so I assume he's fitting through the fence.

    Jay
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  2. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Racoon? That's what went after ours. We had the same thing; head and neck, with sometimes the chest cavity. One or two hens a night.
     

  3. JayinCT

    JayinCT Well-Known Member

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    I would have believed that if the heads were eaten, but the only trauma on the dead chickens is puncture wounds to the neck, other than that, they are untouched. Also, being they were scattered all around the pen, I am wondering if maybe it happened before they roosted?

    Jay
     
  4. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    Chicken vampires?

    Sorry, couldn't help myself.

    I have no idea what it is ... but it's nasty, I'm sure!
     
  5. dodgewc

    dodgewc Well-Known Member

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    I have the same thing. Lost two in last two nights. Put a havahart in the pen with anchovies trying to catch. Nothing last night. See what happens. On the one, head looked like it was in a meat grinder, lower torn to pieces. Was still alive unfortunately in the am when I found her. The next one totally shredded. I am using a havahart because of the neighbors friendy cat Leroy.Something dug up one of the dead chickens that was burried.I know there are foxes and coyotes around here too.
     
  6. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a weasel to me. They are a very frustrating animal to catch. I actually rigged up a trap with a shotgun shell in it, but almost killed myself during one of the test fires, and decided I'd rather loose the birds then myself.

    I’ve heard a modified rat size snap trap works. Flip the snap trap over, and nail 1" finishing nails up through the bottom, just inside the line the "snapper" makes when it comes down, one every 3/8" to 1/2". Then sharpen the ends with a file. I've had weasels set off snap traps dozens of times, and never caught the stupid thing, thus the shotgun shell bad idea.

    Someone gave me the nail idea after my weasel problem was solved.

    Pete
     
  7. amwitched

    amwitched Well-Known Member

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    Would a weasel or a raccoon damage the fence on their way out?

    I just lost one of the "sisters" that was sleeping outside (because she hurts the rest of the flock) in her nest box last night. This area is fenced around the original coop. Her sister is still with us (with no physical damage), so whatever it was could only handle one chicken at a time. But the fence was really pushed over. One of the posts was leaning inside. I almost looks like whatever it was ran full force into the fence with the chicken in her mouth.

    Two weeks ago, something got in the coop door (12" square) and got my rooster. His feathers were all over the inside of the coop. I am inclined to believe that this could have been either a weasel or a raccoon. His sister also disappeared that same evening (before dark). I haven't let the girls out since.
     
  8. JayinCT

    JayinCT Well-Known Member

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    As I would expect, nothing happened last night. I did go and get 6 Victor snap type rat traps, and I cut open the chickens that were killed at the last visit, and romoved their livers for bait. I also took the hearts and dripped what blood I could squeeze out onto the traps for scent. All I can do is wait to see what happens. I did have one trap snapped this morning, but nothing was in it.

    While I had the knife out, and the chickens open, I did cut some extra meat off and bait my live trap. That got me a large almost all blonde skunk this morning, but I know he wasn't what was killing my chickens. Still the same, the trap is sitting in a deep pool in my brook waiting for me to empty it and rebait it when I get home tonight.

    I'll keep you all posted on what happens.

    Jay
     
  9. DocM

    DocM Well-Known Member

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    Possums, raccoons, and owls all attack the heads. Most chicken attacks occur at night when the chickens are prone to sitting in one spot. All of these creatures can climb fence. Raccoons especially lure the poultry to put their heads through the fence and then bite them off. Chickens aren't too bright. A roost is no help because most predators can climb. The best defense is to lock your chickens up tight at night. My coop has wire that's buried 12" in the ground, and solid sides. I doubt you'll catch anything if you attempt to trap, except maybe your barn cats. These predators are very smart.
     
  10. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Why not set-up a monitor----Like a baby monitor or get a pair of the voice activated little traveling walkie talkie type--I think FRS radio's. I can monitor mine any time their is a problem-----Using 2 old CB's---but I did build a Hi-Teck timer(LOL) to turn on the one in the chicken house for 10 seconds out of 30 seconds. Works Good. Keep in mind--If you have a sick chicken with a bleeding sore or something-----the other ones will peck it to death--Or mine does. Good Luck Randy
     
  11. kmaproperties

    kmaproperties Well-Known Member

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    we had a racoon attacking ours and not eating them. it would just bite them or tear them open and let them lie. I set a baby monitor in the barn and when i heard the critter, took a strong flashlight which freezes them and then a 22 to the head. that was that, got 4 in one week. no more problems that summer.
     
  12. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    I was thinking vampire bats when I first read your post! :eek:

    What about leg traps? Would those work any better than like rat traps? If the critter is going in through one spot you could set a small leg trap there and cover it with leaves.
     
  13. JayinCT

    JayinCT Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty sure I've got a weasel problem. with that being said, and the fact that my chicken yard is built of chain link fence, Mr Weasel can be going right through the fence anywhere he pleases, so there is no finding where he goes in and out, but your idea would be a good one if it were a larger animal and I could find where it was going in and out.

    Jay
     
  14. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    Sorry. I don't know a thing about weasels. I've never seen one!
    We have coons and possums.
     
  15. poppy

    poppy Guest

    I'd bet a coon or possum. Marshmallows are good bait in a live trap. Coons love them but cats don't. Good luck
     
  16. dagwood

    dagwood Well-Known Member

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    Yo Jay.....if you are in Connecticut you just might be dealing with a fishercat.....they are fast and smart.....and showing up all over the place up there I hear.

    edited to add info link....http://home.mcn.net/~wtu/fisher.html
     
  17. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    Trust me, you need the nails in the trap to keep the weasel in it. I don't know how, but they set the suckers off and never get caught.

    Pete

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Triffin

    Triffin Well-Known Member

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    Weasel or albino squirrel ?? :shrug:

    Triff ..
     
  19. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    Ermine, or winter weasel. Their fur changes color about this time of year, and turn back to brown in the spring. They aren't big, but they destroy poultry.

    Pete
     
  20. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

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    Yuck.

    Looks like my friend's ferrets.

    There's a reason the name "weasel" has such a nasty sound to it. I just do NOT like the species at all. I am sure they have their place in the whole scheme of nature, but they make me shudder.

    Best of luck in catching whatever animal is destroying your flock!

    Pony!