Missing chicken licken

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13 years 1 month ago #26991 by farmerfil
Hi All, had a trawl through the site to see if I could find an answer to my question but can't locate anything.
We have - or should I say had - six chooks and five little chickens. They are in a reasonable size enclosure with trees however we have lost quite a few in the past week.
The chewed out carcass of the first chicken victim was found in the paddock next door. We haven't found any other bodies around.
So I'm wondering what is taking our birds and how do I stop whatever it is?
Our cat never goes in; the dog is harmless; and there is stoat trap in the enclosure but it hasn't caught anything.

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13 years 1 month ago #373359 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic Missing chicken licken
Are they taking the babies or the older hens? Could it be rats or hawks, kestrels, possums?

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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13 years 1 month ago #373389 by Sue
Replied by Sue on topic Missing chicken licken
Depends how small the chicks are?
Could be any of the above mentioned, plus wild cats and stoats. Even if you haven't caught a stoat, doesn't mean to say they are not around.

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.

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13 years 1 month ago #373395 by farmerfil
Replied by farmerfil on topic Missing chicken licken
Both. We've lost four chicks - about a month old I guess - and three laying hens. Since there is nothing in the enclosure and the culprit would have to get the birds out I figured it must be something bigger than a stoat.

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13 years 1 month ago #373418 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic Missing chicken licken
Well here's something you could try. Lock the chooks in at night and put a carcass from a dead one in the run in the middle of a good base of flour (or some raw meat scrap if you haven't still got a carcass. Make the circle of flour fairly big and on a fine night so it doesn't get wet. If the carcass gets moved, by a walking predator you will get a sense of how big it is by the footprints it will leave from the flour. If a bird, it would have to be a night predator, so unlikely. Do you know if they are disappearing at night or during the day as that can help to single out the more likely predators

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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13 years 1 month ago #373420 by DiDi
Replied by DiDi on topic Missing chicken licken
farmerfil - we had minature rabbits in a run that did not have a space bigger than a quarter inch - including having chicken wire on the floor and yet we found one of the rabbits (killed overnight) in the garden with it's head removed. The other one was also dead but without a mark on it.

Thank goodness I found it and not my young daughter but to this day, there is NO explanation as to how "it" got the rabbits out and believe me, a number of adults explored every inch of the cage and found nothing. Head removal = stoat I believe?

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13 years 1 month ago #373641 by farmerfil
Replied by farmerfil on topic Missing chicken licken
SB thanks for that idea. Very interesting and imaginative. I might try it out but wonder whether I should encourage the predators. We've now gone a week without any other "murders" (as my 12 yr old chicken keeper calls them).
DD sounds a very similar cold case. We had head removal too.

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13 years 1 month ago #373791 by trishb
Replied by trishb on topic Missing chicken licken
We have had the same problem with our chickens. Occasionally a small chick or older one up to 3 or 4 months old disappears. We see hawks often and have actually seen a hawk carry away the littlies - upsetting. But the others - sometimes I just find a pile of feathers and bones - the whole bird has been eaten. If they stay inside the fenced area around the house they seem to be OK. But if they go outside into the fields thats when they get taken it seems. I am always wondering is it stoats, wild cats, rats or what. Never see anything.
BUT the joys of free range chooks in the country - you have to accept there are predators and they have to eat too! If they could only eat the roosters.............

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13 years 1 month ago #373860 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Missing chicken licken
We seem to lose the odd one every now and then and so far had two causes, hawk and wild cat. Stoats are in the area as well.

Frustrating isn't it.[:(!]

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13 years 1 month ago #374572 by farmerfil
Replied by farmerfil on topic Missing chicken licken
Thanks for your comments. I'm still losing chooks and figured it can't be something small like a stoat because there are no bodies in the enclosure and a small animal, I assume, couldn't a) get them out or b) destroy all the evidence.
Likewise there is good tree cover so a hawk isn't likely (I understand they attack from the air rather than sit on a post and attack from there).
That leads me to something like a wild cat. Any ideas how to catch such a critter?

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13 years 1 month ago #374576 by Nora
Replied by Nora on topic Missing chicken licken
Are they going missing at night? Did you try the flour idea? Maybe you could give some more information.

Your enclosure is inadequate to protect the birds, especially if an animal the size of a cat or dog could get in there. How about putting your chickens into a secure house at night, with 13mm netting max? You might not ever catch the culprit but at least you can protect your birds. If you let them access the current enclosure, it also needs to be adequately wired to prevent deaths if they're going missing during the day. Otherwise, I can't really see how your remaining birds are going to have any more of a chance than the ones that are missing.

If you're in Canterbury I can lend you a live-capture trap which you can put bait into, on a hook , you can put it outside the house. So would catch possums, cats, stoats, hedgehogs etc and then you can see what you have and either let it out in the morning or kill it as the need be.

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13 years 3 weeks ago #376731 by farmerfil
Replied by farmerfil on topic Missing chicken licken
Thanks Nora - I thought my enclosure was ok but obviously not. Done a rebuild and now have the Fort Knox developing.
It seems most of the murders - as my boy calls them - took place early morning.
On another question how many years to others think they get good laying out of birds like brown shavers?

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13 years 3 weeks ago #376750 by chicken_itis
Replied by chicken_itis on topic Missing chicken licken
Hungry hawks will go in nearly anywhere is my opinion. Neighbours had chooks taken by hawks in their run that has a 'tree roof'- you would never think a hawk would try but they did! they have since covered in netting with no further incidents. I have also witnessed hawks taking my chooks free ranging and they are coming in close to fences/structures etc they just drop out of the sky.

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13 years 1 week ago #378339 by Jan
Replied by Jan on topic Missing chicken licken
I think if a hawk is hungry enough he will go into the enclosure.

I have lost 2 ducks by the stream with lots of tree shelter. Just feathers no carcass. Chooks haven't been taken but locked up at night. I heard a duck squawk about 5am when the last one went missing and wished i got up and had a look.

We set a stoat and cat trap but to no avail and im wondering if it was a hawk that got the ducks.

Jan

______________________________________
North Wairarapa on 30 odd acres of paradise.
ahorseofcourseormaybetwo.blogspot.com/

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Replied by Reossyinfes on topic Missing chicken licken
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