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Country Discussion Topics
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What is killing our chickens???
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Jennifer Purvis    Posted 03-17-2003 at 12:13:10       [Reply]  [Send Email]
My son is raising laying hens. We got 28 chicks around Easter of 2002 and have actually been doing pretty good until recently. Something is getting into the chicken pen at night and killing chickens. It does not happen every night and so far it's been only one chicken at a time. Whatever it is, it does not eat the chicken. It breaks the chicken's neck and there is only one bite around the bottom of the neck. It actually looks like something is trying to eat only the heart out of the chicken. I have no idea what would do this - I have never had chickens before in my life! I thought predators would at least eat what they kill. We setup a live trap about 2 weeks ago and so far have not caught anything even though our night time vistor came through last week. It managed to kill one chicken and get the fish we were using for bait without springing the trap!! If you have an idea about what this could be and how to prevent future attacks please advise. Thanks!

Okie-Dokie    Posted 03-18-2003 at 16:37:31       [Reply]  [No Email]
The last few nights, we have had the same problem exactly. Just the head of the chicken was taken. Thought it had to be a weasle. Left the light on in the chicken coop all night so at least the birds would have a chance if they saw it coming. Heard a terrable commotion about midnight and we ran out to the chicken house and guess what it was? That's right, a skunk! He died of lead poisoning pronto.

Okie-Dokie    Posted 03-18-2003 at 16:36:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
The last few nights, we have had the same problem exactly. Just the head of the chicken was taken. Thought it had to be a weasle. Left the light on in the chicken coop all night so at least the birds would have a chance if they saw it coming. Heard a terrable commotion about midnight and we ran out to the chicken house and guess what it was? That's right, a skunk! He died of lead poisoning pronto.

Nan(TX)    Posted 03-17-2003 at 15:00:18       [Reply]  [Send Email]

Some info I have coped from various sites.
Habitat and home. The basic requirement for mink habitat is permanent water. The presence of standing timber adjacent to water is attractive but not necessary for their environment. Minks dwell along the banks of streams and rivers or the shorelines of lakes and marshes. The increase in the number of farm ponds and lakes has provided additional habitat. Minks make their homes under the roots of trees, in cavities in banks, under logs or stumps, in hollow trees . Minks are chiefly nocturnal, but they often come out at dawn or dusk and less frequently during the day. Most of their victims are killed by a bite in the neck.
Foods. The mink preys upon mice, rabbits and other terrestrial animals as does the weasel, and like the otter, feeds on fish, crayfish and other aquatic forms. The principal winter foods frogs mice and rats fish rabbits crayfish birds fox squirrels and muskrats Miscellaneous items include insects, spiders, snails, domestic cats, shrews, moles, bats, turtles and their eggs, snakes, birds' eggs, blood, grass and leaves.
Mink may occasionally kill domestic poultry around farms. They typically kill their prey by biting them through the skull or neck. Closely spaced pairs of canine tooth marks are sign of a mink. Mink will attack animals up to the size of a chicken, duck, rabbit, or muskrat. While eating muskrats, a mink will often make an opening in the back or side of the neck and skin the animal by pulling the head through the hole as it feeds. Like some other members of the weasel family, mink occasionally exhibit “surplus killing” behavior (killing much more than they can possibly eat) when presented with an abundance of food, such as in a poultry house full of chickens. Mink may place many dead chickens neatly in a pile. Mink can eat significant numbers of upland nesting waterfowl or game bird young, particularly in areas where nesting habitat is limited.

joel    Posted 03-03-2007 at 08:47:12       [Reply]  [Send Email]
A raccoon is probably eating your chickens. Raccoons love chicken and are very sly. You can catch them with a box trap with cat food in it or just a dead chicken. It also could be a opossum. Opossums are very easy to catch and are very stupid.

Patrick    Posted 05-29-2007 at 07:18:16       [Reply]  [Send Email]
It sounds like a raccoon. They will take the head if they're killing for sport, or drag the chicken away if they're killing for food. They love fish.

Raccoons are clever and can often steal bait left in a live trap. I find that cutting off the bottom inch of a beer/soda can, threading a wire through it, filling it with peanut butter, then twisting the wire to the end of the live trap will get them every time.

This will work on opossums too, but I'm not convinced an opossum is any threat to an adult bird. Eggs and chicks, sure, but not adults.

It could be a Fisher cat, bobcat, or pine martin, but the torn head thing sounds more like a raccoon.

Jennifer    Posted 03-21-2003 at 06:36:15       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thanks for the information. I have had a couple of other people tell me the same thing. We live in Louisiana and there is a patch of woods across the highway that has been logged recently. I rode over to check it out and there is a stream running through that area - so there is the permanant water source! I have a live trap that we've been setting every night and baiting with fish from our freezer with no luck. Do you have any suggestions on how to stop this varment?

Dave Smith    Posted 03-17-2003 at 14:27:32       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Although I have never seen it first hand, old time farmers (im 65) told me that weasels will bite the head off chickens and just suck the blood out. Sounds to me like that is what you have.
Dave <*)))><

Rickstir    Posted 03-17-2003 at 13:56:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
Depending on the weather, it is going to rain in Missouri for the next three days or so, sprinkle some flour around the suspected openings to the chicken house. You may get lucky and see some footprints at the point of entry. That will tell you what it is (use a website for track identification) and where it is getting in at. You can then take action. I do like the flashlight thing. I have killed several possums in our garden using a .410 shotgun with a flashlight mounted on the barrel.

Fawteen    Posted 03-17-2003 at 13:26:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
Weasels will do that too, and can get through an incredibly small hole.

Donna from Mo    Posted 03-17-2003 at 13:21:27       [Reply]  [Send Email]
My guess is, it's either a racoon or an opossum. We killed lots of possums in our chicken pen by taking a flashlight and a gun out, about an hour after sunset. I'd shine the light in there, usually spot a possum, and my husband or son would shoot the varmint. The light doesn't scare them, but do not talk; if they hear voices, they'll scurry off before you get to them.

cathy~lynn    Posted 03-18-2003 at 16:51:24       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I had a similar problem. Whatever it was killed almost all of my aeroconna hens. What I eventually did was bring the girls in at night (yep, in the house... ) until I could fix the coop to where NOTHING could get in ;o)

Stephanie    Posted 01-26-2008 at 05:20:09       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hello, need some help. I had 2 ducks about 6 months old a mallard and a HUGE white duck. They would not come in the other night and wanted to sleep on my roof, I gave up on them after 11pm. They had slept on the roof a few times and were fine. Well..the mallard is gone, no sign of him at all. Well for her, I saw feathers....and then her, headless and a hole above the wings of what was eaten out, and her spine riped out of her, and left it next to her. The animal did not eat any of the meat, just the head beak and the meat around the spine bone that was next to her. There was not a lot of blood on her, it seemed to be a hole that was ripped arpat very carefully. Like I said she was huge! The next night her remains were drug away. What would of left the whole body after being killed? Any information would be GREAT! Thanks.

I vote Weisel......Jimbob    Posted 03-17-2003 at 17:01:10       [Reply]  [No Email]
Usually a Racoon will eat the chicken. I had problems with owls, badgers, skunks & racoons. Never a weasel problem here, but it sure appears to be the work of a weisel. We do not have any weisels around our property.

Chrio    Posted 05-25-2004 at 19:25:56       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I have been having a similar problem for a few months, my roosters have been disappearing one by one. The creature taking them leaves no trace of the kill, not even a feather. Today my favourite bantam rooster disappeared and my son-in-law went out into the woods behind the house to look for him. He found a racoon sitting in a tree that my chickens roost in during summer (we´re in North Carolina and its very warm at night). He has just this minute gone to our neighbour to borrow his gun. We also hear an owl at night, in the woods behind the house. I have a perfectly safe chicken coop with heating and air conditioning, but the chickens won´t stop flying into the trees to roost on summer nights. Now I have only two roosters left, and they are my favourites, so I have taken them and their favourite wives into my bedroom tonight and popped them into a couple of cages. I am almost certain my bantam rooster was taken during the early morning or late evening, because he always slept in the coop. One of my neighbours has a coon dog which I could borrow, (I hear shots being fired as I speak) but I´ve seen the poor dog after it´s got a racoon and it gets pretty torn up in the process.

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