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Old 10-16-2009, 11:06 AM
Mom5farmboys Mom5farmboys is offline
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Default Another Chicken Question

Something is picking off our chickens every other day or so we are finding a dead chicken in the pen. Usually its head is chewed off and laying on the other side of the pen. We can't figure out what is getting them. We do have a theory but I'm not sure how plausable it is.

This is what we are wondering, can a housecat (this cat is a wild one..somebody dropped it off and we can't get anywhere near it) take down a full grown chicken? Its happening when no one is around. Also this cat has been around all summer, and is a wonderful hunter, which is why we have just kind of left it alone up until now. It has killed squirrels, mice, chipmunks, and small bunnies. It doesn't seem to be eating much of the chicken itself, just kills it.

There doesn't seem to be any damage to the chicken wire. My husband even ran a strand of electric wire around the top of the fence and that has not done any good. He even set a conibear (sp ?) trap next to the chicken pen in front of a square pail with some raw meat in it, and hasn't caught anything with it.

Personally we are really thinking its the cat, but are just wondering if its possible?
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:33 AM
nhlivefreeordie Male nhlivefreeordie is offline
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It is possible, as is the possibility that a weasel has found your coop. Try a weasel box and small #1 leghold trap, if it is a weasel, chances are he will skip right through the conibear without tripping it.
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:12 PM
Anon001 Anon001 is offline
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I would agree. The head chewed off sounds more like a weasel. It it is a weasel, I'm surprised it gets just one at a time. I've seen weasels kill several a night.

A weasel is like a mouse, as far as he can squeeze through a very tiny opening.

Most cats won't bother adult chickens, but they will get the chicks.

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Old 10-16-2009, 01:21 PM
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momma_to_seven_chi Female momma_to_seven_chi is offline
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Originally Posted by Mom5farmboys View Post
Something is picking off our chickens every other day or so we are finding a dead chicken in the pen. Usually its head is chewed off and laying on the other side of the pen.
We had a problem with owls killing our geese and ducks one year. They just swoop down and pull off the head, leaving the rest of the bird sitting on the nest or ground. We didn't usually find the heads though. But if it is just the head, I would wonder about owls simply because that was our experience. It even happend in the day, but usually early evening. Owls are out at night, so you want to think about other predators like hawks if this happens during the day more often.
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Old 11-26-2009, 12:04 AM
mimipaula1 mimipaula1 is offline
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Default Another chicken question

Just saw this thread and had to put my two cents in! We had a problem with losing hens a few years back. We would find them in the morning with their heads cut off. Well, my husband/sons found out the perpetrator was a raccoon! After losing several hens, my son was able to shoot the 'coon and we haven't lost any chickens since then! Hope this helps!
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Old 11-26-2009, 08:37 AM
Oblio13 Oblio13 is offline
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Sounds like a raccoon. Can't remember where I found this article, but I've had it saved on my desktop for some time:

Poultry Predator Identification

By Gail Damerow

"The first step to deterring predators is to identify them. Each critter has a modus operandi that serves as something of a calling card to let you know which animal you're dealing with. One sure sign is tracks, but in an active poultry yard tracks quickly get obliterated. Your best guide is to examine where, how, and when birds turn up dead or missing.

Missing chickens or ducks were likely carried off by a fox, coyote, dog, bobcat, owl, or hawk.

Hawks work in the daytime; owls work at night.

If your missing birds are ducks, and you live near water, a mink may be doing the dirty deed. Raccoons, too, will carry off a duck or chicken. You may find the carcass some distance from the coop, the insides eaten and feathers scattered around.

A snake will eat chicks and ducklings without leaving a trace.

Domestic and feral house cats will make chicks and ducklings disappear, but leave the wings and feathers of growing birds. On rare occasions a cat will kill a mature duck or chicken, eating the meatier parts and leaving the skin and feathers scattered around.

Rats will carry off chicks or ducklings and leave older ones chewed up.

Chickens or ducks found dead in the yard, but without any missing parts, were likely attacked by a dog. Dogs kill for sport. When the bird stops moving, the dog loses interest.

Like dogs, weasels and their relations (ferrets, fishers, martens, mink, and so forth) also kill for sport. If you find bloodied bodies surrounded by scattered feathers, you were likely visited by one of them.

If you find dead birds that have been flattened, the only thing you know is that some kind of predator frightened them; in trying to get away, they piled in a corner or against a wall and the ones on the bottom suffocated. This sort of thing happens most commonly with turkeys.

A dead bird found inside a fenced enclosure or pen with its head missing is likely the victim of a raccoon that reached in and pulled its head through the wire.

When you find a bird dead inside an enclosure with its head and crop missing, your visitor was a raccoon. If the head and back of the neck are missing, suspect a weasel or mink. If the head and neck are missing, and feathers are scattered near a fence post, the likely perp is a great horned owl.

If you find dead or wounded birds that have been bitten, they may have been attacked by a dog. If they are young birds and the bites are around the hock, suspect a rat. If the bites are on the leg or breast, the biter is likely an opposum. ‘Possums like tender growing birds and will sneak up to the roost while fryers are sleeping and bite a chunk out of a breast or thigh. On the rare occasion a ‘possum kills a chicken, it usually eats it on the spot.

Birds bitten around the rear end, with their intestines pulled out, have been attacked by a weasel or one of its relatives. A hen that prolapsed may look similar, as the protruding red tissue attracts other chickens to peck, and if they peck long enough and hard enough before you intervene, they will eventually pull out her intestines. Other signs of cannibalism are missing toes and wounds around the top of the tail of growing chickens. Hens with slice wounds along their backs get them after being repeatedly mated by a sharp-clawed rooster.

Most predators work at night — some in the dead of night, others at dark or dawn. Exceptions are dogs (which kill any time they get the whim), coyotes (which occasionally hunt during the day), and foxes (which prefer to hunt around dawn or dusk, but will hunt during the day if game is scarce or they are feeding kits).

Rats and mice are a particularly insidious type of predator. They’re everywhere, breed like rats, and can’t take a hint. They invade any time of year, but get worse during fall and winter when they move indoors seeking food and shelter. Rats eat eggs and chicks, and both rats and mice eat copious quantities of feed and spread disease. To add insult to injury, rodents gnaw holes in housing, and burrow underneath, providing entry for other predators.

Whether or not you find evidence, you can safely assume you have a rodent problem. Discourage rodents by eliminating their hide-outs, including piles of unused equipment and other scrap. Store feed in containers with tight lids and avoid or sweep up spills. Aggressive measures include getting a cat or a Jack Russell Terrier, and—if you’ve got rats and you’re experienced with a gun—shoot ’em. Don’t bother with techie solutions like ultrasound black boxes and electromagnetic radiation—they’re as ineffective as they are expensive.
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