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fleur de duc
Jun. 16, 2010, 10:40 PM
I got to the barn today to a horrifying site.

A few weeks ago I decided to add to the small group of hens I had at the barn I manage. We have a very large pen with fully enclosed (or so I thought) runs and a nice little set up in the coop (which in and of itself is very large). Overall I came home with 12 baby chicks. We lost a little guy the first day unfortunately, but she wasn't looking good when I got her.

Over the past few weeks they have gotten huge and their little secure hutch inside the coop was getting a bit small for all 11 chicks. I decided to take the larger ones (5 total) out of the hutch and put them out with the 3 large hens I have. All was well. Daytime they were out with the grownups and at night locked up with the smaller ones.

Well last night something got into the coop, despite it being closed. i don't know what it was. I highly doubt it was a fox as there really is NO space for a fox to get in, nor did they get ahold of any of the large hens. But all but 2 of my poor baby chicks were gone. I guess in the commotion of the break in they popped the hutch open (faulty latch I have been meaning to fix). And after that it was just a massacre... legs everywhere.... but oddly enough, no feathers. and only one body was left in the runs outside the pen. Poor Chevy was headless and had a leg ripped off. :cry: But there was no feathers or blood really. The only feathers I found were about 25 yards away from the pens.

After searching around I found a larger black chick that was barely alive. But no actual wounds anywhere, just very hot and not looking good. As of now shes doing better but still on the edge.

later in the day one of the guineas popped up in the woods trying to get back to the pen. I grabbed her so im back to 4 live ones right now. but Im devastated. All my poor kids:cry:

I hope it was swift .. god speed little ones

I have photos from 2 weeks ago when all were alive and well:sadsmile:
http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/

Kate66
Jun. 16, 2010, 10:43 PM
I am so sorry, that must have been horrific to see.

Godspeed to the little chicks!!

Watermark Farm
Jun. 17, 2010, 12:30 AM
Oh, I am so very sorry, and I know what you mean about hoping the end wa quick.

I have chickens and a few years ago raised a batch of 16 babies. I thought our coop was predator-proof, but came out one morning to find that something had killed all but two (who were terrified and never the same again) and eaten their heads but left the bodies. I was really traumatized by seeing over a dozen headless baby chickens laying there.

Later I noticed a really small hole up above the door to the coop. We think that either a skunk or possibly a cat got in there. You have to lock them in two enclosures, almost, ie, a hen house inside a pen, both locked up at night.

I'm really very sorry. I love my chickens and have had many live to be 10 years old!

JSwan
Jun. 17, 2010, 07:54 AM
Probably a coon. Maybe a possum.

Even a properly fastened latch wouldn't have stopped it. A raccoon can open latches; they're really smart.

It will be back to eat more, so whatever repairs you need to make do it quickly.

ponygirl
Jun. 17, 2010, 08:26 AM
Give the one survivor some sugar water too. If it's going to help, it will help quickly. I'm sorry for your loss. :(

Bluey
Jun. 17, 2010, 08:35 AM
I have seen coons tear up a hole in the wall or roof to get to grain.:(

As a little kid, we were raising five little ducklings,:)
They were maybe 2 1/2 months old, when one day, checking on them in the evening in their little coop, a big RAT was in there, had killed one and was dragging the other around by a leg.
The rat ran off and we took the ducklings into the house and kept them there until next morning, where we could add wire to the floor, where the rat had dug thru.:no:

The one she was dragging survived, but with a limp.
I hope yours does ok.:yes:

NeedsAdvil
Jun. 17, 2010, 08:43 AM
:( I am so sorry. My friend who raises chickens recently lost 14 to coyotes, although one came back a couple of days later, so the total loss was 13. It's so sad and I hope they didn't suffer.

Guin
Jun. 17, 2010, 09:05 AM
Oh, that's terrible! A raccoon, or a coyote? :no: Poor chickies!

Calvincrowe
Jun. 17, 2010, 10:17 AM
Raccoon or weasel of some sort, would be my guess. Rarely would a possum do so much damage--coons are the ones who slaughter on genocidal scale as you've described. Cats don't kill chickens like that, IME. Coyotes would take and run.

Chickens are fragile creatures, easily "scared to death" by traumatic situations like this.

fleur de duc
Jun. 17, 2010, 10:29 AM
Thanks everyone. We do have a small population of coyotes here but this is a very populated area. ITs actually in the middle of a development and surrounded on all sides by houses and people. Plus i know something that big couldn't have gotten in. We are thinking weasel too right now, but not 100% sure. The odd thing is that there really wasn't much left besides legs. and by legs I really mean just feet. Everything else was eaten or taken in exception of one body who was decapitated and had one leg ripped off.

I didn't think opossums or coons would eat it all or even take it all. Anything worth eating was gone except that one. And they weren't itty bitty anymore. Some were decent sized.

Also the large hens were unscathed. That makes me think it was something of a smaller variety.

rmh_rider
Jun. 17, 2010, 10:36 AM
SO sorry for your loss. Oh my. What beautiful babies!

If it was a coon, I did see one on the side of the road this morning, dead if that makes you or anybody feel better. Road kill. So maybe it was the one? It was a new dead. I ride my bike each morning on the same route. If the buzzards don't find it, it will bother me each day until it is gone. ICK.

I did come across yet another box turtle trying to cross the road. I got off my bike and pushed it with my foot to the edge, and past it so it would be safe.

One less coon to terrorize somebody's chickens, or ducks, or feed/hay room(mine). I am all for that. My most delightful moments are when I see dead possums. Can't see enough of them dead on the roads. My friends horse was just diagnosed with EPM.

I always at battle with the skunks, coons, and possums. They seem to love my barn. GRRRRRRR. Get out, and walk the striped line on the roads!

lcw579
Jun. 17, 2010, 11:31 AM
I have chickens and a few years ago raised a batch of 16 babies. I thought our coop was predator-proof, but came out one morning to find that something had killed all but two (who were terrified and never the same again) and eaten their heads but left the bodies. !

I bet you had a weasel get in. When I was researching them online I came across a source that said they eat the heads and drink the warm blood. Ick.

Poor littles chicks. Hope the new security system works.

BTW - I like the first picture. Very cute pair! ;)

DandyMatiz
Jun. 17, 2010, 12:48 PM
Probably a weasel. If you are in a polulated area... I know some friends who have been having problems with Ferrets. not wild, but people letting pet ferrets loose when they don't want them anymore :( Sad for the ferrets

dmalbone
Jun. 17, 2010, 02:38 PM
Oh no. :( I'm so sorry. I will be completely honest and admit that this is why I can't have chickens even though I want them so badly. I'm just too afraid of all of the predator eating chick stories. Yes, even chicks and farm animals become my little babies. I'm that crazy animal person. :D

Aggie4Bar
Jun. 17, 2010, 04:53 PM
Poor chickies. I'm so sorry you had to experience that. :(

In the case of coons, is there any fool-proof way to keep them out? We want to build a small coop and get some chickens as soon as our barn is built. Unfortunately, with help from a nearby "wildlife rehabber" (more accurate: delusional animal rights whacko) that lives nearby, the coon population is absolutely booming. Hubby doesn't like to shoot them... although he'd have a hard time holding me back if they massacred my birds. What extra steps should/could be taken?

saje
Jun. 17, 2010, 05:15 PM
I suspect you'd need a fence of electrified netting surrounding the coop.

http://www.premier1supplies.com/c/fencing/electric_netting/

equusvilla
Jun. 17, 2010, 05:23 PM
The saddest part is that if you still have birds...whatever it is that got them...will indeed return. Hot wires work well. Is your coop covered? Could have also been an owl or hawk. Have you heard of how to "wire skirt' your pen? You run mesh wiring around the bottom about 18 inches long that 'skirts out and is lightly covered by dirt and rocks...so that when a predator comes up to the fence to dig..they are actually standing on the wire. when they dig - they dig into the wire and it hurts thier feet.

Rockfish
Jun. 18, 2010, 02:45 PM
:cry::cry:

kinnip
Jun. 18, 2010, 03:20 PM
I'm so sorry. Coons will usually remove the head and drink the blood. Possums prefer the guts. Sometimes they'll drag one off. It is possible that one did the killing and something else "cleaned up". A wire skirt is a good idea, that and a .22. For the survivors, give a few drops of Poly-vi-sol without iron twice a day. It's an unfortunate thing about chickens, they die really easily. I believe it was George Carlin that said he would never have a pet, because it's like buying a tiny tragedy. Guess I'm a glutton for tears.

Brigit
Jun. 18, 2010, 05:07 PM
Poor baby chicks! I read about someone down in one of the southern states that had problems with snakes getting into their chicken coops and eating the chicks. Ick!

bludejavu
Jun. 18, 2010, 05:09 PM
Could have been a large snake. Just today I watched something on Animal Planet about a problem in Florida with large snakes (it was an exotic snake and I can't remember what kind), getting in easily and swallowing whole chickens. They caught the snake, it panicked and regurgitated right then and it had swallowed two mature chickens at one time. I had no idea they would eat that many at a time. The tracker found either five or six snakes in the area and the poor man with the chickens had lost over half of his flock.

fleur de duc
Jun. 18, 2010, 07:06 PM
I highly doubt it was a snake. Although that seems to be the only think that could easily get in/out with all my poor children, we dont have big enough snakes to have eaten all 9 of them!

Whatever it was has not gotten anything else. Although it appears there was a ruckus last night in the coop. The bedding is all messed up (WAY more than what the large hens do nightly). But all 3 hens and the 3 chicks locked in the hutch were alive and well.

Unfortunately we lost the little one on the edge yesterday. Se was doing better, up and moving yesterday morning. But when I went back to lock everyone up, she had passed :(

fleur de duc
Jun. 18, 2010, 07:09 PM
And I must also mention the owners of the barn had critter control out get to the bottom of the problem. There are now traps up everywhere baited with ... bless their hearts .. chicken :(

Hopefully they catch something to give us an idea of what we are dealing with.

They start the "remodel" soon of the coop to fully protect it. They are going to burry the fence 2 feet down so nothing can get under. Then cement the boards around the edge to keep that secure. Plus they are redoing the entire coop itself soon. Hopefully that keeps whatever it is the HELL away from my chickens!!

Bluey
Jun. 18, 2010, 08:22 PM
You could use a baby monitor in the coop and if you hear noise, go check, armed, even if just with a broom and/or shovel.

fleur de duc
Jun. 18, 2010, 08:40 PM
You could use a baby monitor in the coop and if you hear noise, go check, armed, even if just with a broom and/or shovel.

I could but I live 40min from the property :(

Bluey
Jun. 18, 2010, 09:21 PM
I could but I live 40min from the property :(

Oh, that would not work then.:lol:

I forget that not everyone lives by their animals.:yes:

fleur de duc
Jun. 18, 2010, 10:05 PM
Oh, that would not work then.:lol:

I forget that not everyone lives by their animals.:yes:

yeah I am just the barn manager. Although I WISH I lived there!!! the house/property is GORGEOUS!!!! They could adopt me anyday!

WaningMoon
Jun. 21, 2010, 12:56 PM
If heads are missing you can bet it was a weasel.

katarine
Jun. 21, 2010, 01:01 PM
Actually, you could bet it was a coon, too.

Raccoons will eat chickens and their eggs. Poultry loss from raccoons can generally be identified by footprints and the manner in which the chicken was killed and eaten. Usually the head is bitten off, the breast torn open and partially eaten along with some internal organs. Look for bits of flesh near a source of water.

This is why I don't have any Rhodies. The coons got them all.

draftdriver
Jun. 21, 2010, 05:31 PM
If heads are missing you can bet it was a weasel.

That one gets my vote, too. Weasels can get through tiny little holes.

kinnip
Jun. 21, 2010, 05:50 PM
They are going to burry the fence 2 feet down so nothing can get under. Then cement the boards around the edge to keep that secure. Plus they are redoing the entire coop itself soon. Hopefully that keeps whatever it is the HELL away from my chickens!!

Burying a fence is no walk in the park. Love these folks forever! Make sure they never run out of eggs and hug them daily! :winkgrin:

HungarianHippo
Jun. 22, 2010, 01:04 AM
Raccoons can squeeze through surpisingly small spaces too, AND still be big enough to take down a large bird. I found one of my ducks killed --clearly it went for the head, and the neck/breast was torn open. The coon had pulled back a piece of the wire "wall" by only about 3", and this spot was tucked deep in a dark, back corner. I found it only after crawling around for hours to find where the critter had gotten in.

Best remedy? Heavy-gauge, strong woven mesh fencing and a .22 or shotgun.

The week I lost the duck, I took care of at least 5 raccoons who were skulking around our farmyard, haven't had a chicken kill since. The number of nuisance raccoons come and go in waves (probably young'uns looking for new territory, or misguided suburban idiots who catch and relocate). Frankly, our philosophy is that we give them 17+ acres of bountiful woods to live in peaceably, on their own terms. The moment they decide to live in our farmyard/shop or prey on our chickens, they're toast.

chemteach
Jun. 22, 2010, 05:56 AM
So sorry. I loved my chickens but they were killed also (by a neighbor's dog). I just don't have the heart to get any more.

WaningMoon
Jun. 22, 2010, 08:49 AM
That one gets my vote, too. Weasels can get through tiny little holes.

I have had nothing but horrid experiences with weasels. I had a book as a child called, NEVER TEASE A WEASEL, and as an adult I now see where they were coming from.

I came outside one morning to find the heads from two of my turtle doves lying outside their cage with the bodies inside the cage. I have still never figured out how they did it but by staying up the next night, I did see the weasel return to get the rest but I scared him off. I am surprised he didn't try to fight with me. IT was a sickening sight, one I hope to never see again. I have had hte same thing happen in my chicken coop. I Find they always slice the head from teh body but have never seen them rip up the animal other than the head, Im sure they must, just never happened to me.

YRs ago I used to raise Doberman pups. ONe of my show quality ones got into a fight with a weasel, in daylight, while we were milking. Heard an awful fight of some kind going on over the hum of the milking machines and ran outside. My 5 month old pup was fighting with a weasel in front of our grain shed. This weasel was not backing down and neither was the dog. Finally in the end the pup killed the weasel. But in teh end the pup had to be put down after many months of trying to save him. He had massive abscesses up inside of his skull which was going to cost thousands to drain and he wouild have had to be brought to the teaching hosp in St Hyacinth, Quebec to have the surgery done and they said there was not a lot of hope. We tried every antibiotic there was to no avail. The poor pup would do this sneeze type thing and there would then be a puddle of pus and whatnot in front of him bigger than anything you could imagine, as in at least a 12-15 inch diameter. Made me wonder how all that could fit in his skull but a few minutes later he'd do the same thing all over. It was certainly one of my grossest experiences with an animal and Ive had plenty. I still think of him to this day, poor poor pup. And wouldn't you know it, he was a fawn, and there aren't too many of those, he was spoken for the day of his birth.
Weasels are an evil being as far as im concerned. They fight until their death for sure.

WaningMoon
Jun. 22, 2010, 09:32 AM
Could have been a large snake. Just today I watched something on Animal Planet about a problem in Florida with large snakes (it was an exotic snake and I can't remember what kind), getting in easily and swallowing whole chickens. They caught the snake, it panicked and regurgitated right then and it had swallowed two mature chickens at one time. I had no idea they would eat that many at a time. The tracker found either five or six snakes in the area and the poor man with the chickens had lost over half of his flock.

Yes, snakes swallow whole, Ive never heard of one taking the head off of anything though.

fleur de duc
Jun. 22, 2010, 04:55 PM
Well something, whatever it was struck again last night. This time, a full grown chicken is gone :( no evidence anywhere. She is just gone. This company came out today to trap and give us advice on what to do before the remodel starts. But for now I am considering bringing all the of survivors home at night.

JSwan
Jun. 23, 2010, 07:56 AM
Whatever it is won't stop until all the chickens are gone.

EVERYTHING likes chicken.

Timex
Jun. 25, 2010, 10:57 AM
My vote is on a weasel. And they'll keep coming back until there are no more chickens. :(

thatmoody
Jun. 25, 2010, 03:35 PM
I bet you had a weasel get in. When I was researching them online I came across a source that said they eat the heads and drink the warm blood. Ick.

Poor littles chicks. Hope the new security system works.

BTW - I like the first picture. Very cute pair! ;)

I was just going to say this - weasels and minks (which are found close to water) will really slaughter chicks AND chickens. And they're found in a lot more places than you think they are, and can get into a really small space.

They deserve their bloodthirsty reputation, too.

CHS
Jun. 26, 2010, 07:03 PM
I just went out to find one of my weimaraners (who I rescued from a hoarder crazy breeder lady with a bunch of other weimys) killed all of my laying hens. He left the youngsters and the chicks. Now I won't have any eggs for God knows how long. He's been around them for over a week. Never showed any interest. I went out to collect eggs and found the massacre. Building a large flight pen (I hate keeping things in small pens) with electric all around the outside next weekend.

fleur de duc
Jun. 26, 2010, 07:32 PM
well an update for everyone who was curious.

we had the critter company out to set traps. the first night we caught 2 raccoons. and there seemed to be others there as there were ditches dug out around the traps as if something tried to dig them out. the next night a fox was in the traps. and the night after that something got the bait but didnt set the trap off. they think it was a weasel.

So we still have no idea. They took a look at our pen and seem to be stumped b/c it is really secure and they thought that MAYBE a very small raccoon got in, but they dont think it could have gotten back out. so who knows.

now on to renovations .... we are refencing and securing the pen to keep ANYTHING out and my chickens in.


ohh and the large hen was infact in the pen the whole time. She somehow managed to get under a door into a fenced in portion of the coop that I keep shut. I didnt even think to look there. She is alive and well!

ETA: we also have gotten some replacements to the youngin's ... Alejandro and Frank were added on Wednesday. they are 2, 2.5week old polish hens or so I was told. I also got some more guineas that are for my farrier. They are cuties and fit right into the group. The now much bigger survivors, Roger-ina and Fernando (the silkies) and Ralph the guinea, are taking over "mothering" the newbies. I cannot wait to get the pen redone so the oldies, Laverne, Shirley, and Lucy, can have new friends again. Shirley is a very good momma hen.

fleur de duc
Jun. 26, 2010, 07:45 PM
here are some photos of the new additions

Alejandro
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3019.jpg

Frank
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3028-1dragged.jpg
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3029-1dragged.jpg

the ride home from Camelot
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3020.jpg

Alejandro (Left)(top) and Frank (right)(bottom)
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3025.jpg
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3027.jpg
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3032.jpg
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3031.jpg

meeting the new family
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3038-1dragged.jpg
http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b253/fleurdeduc/chickens/DSCF3041.jpg