37 CHICKS MISSING

by Rhona
(Texas)

In one night something dug a hole into my chicken tractor. 5 chicks were left with no blood or missing parts. The other 37 are just gone. There are no feathers or blood anywhere around. The chicks were only 2 weeks old, so they still had their fuzz. What could have done this? How do I protect the next batch?

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Chicken Predators
by: Sharon

I'm so sorry for your loss. I would guess a pretty good sized predator, like a fox or coyote. They likely gobbled down 37 missing chicks. Maybe didn't have room for the last ones Predators usually have litters to feed this time of year, so are always on the prowl for a quick meal.

A good rule for keeping any kind of animal is that if they can get out they will. And similar for predators, if they can get in, they will. Unfortunately you've had the hard lesson here.

Small chicks out at night in a place where a predator has hopes of a meal is like putting a free food sign out. The temptation for a meal is just too much.

If you decide to get chicks again, they should be locked securely inside a coop,or the housing portion of a tractor at night, where no predator can get in. The scent is enough to attract predators, but the only way to keep chicks and chickens safe, especially at night, is to be positive no predator has access to them.

I would suggest installing a wire floor on the bottom of the tractor. This will prevent most predators from digging in, especially the large ones, and still allow you to move it to different areas so the chicks/chickens can have grass.

There are other predators that could be to blame for you losses, but with so many missing, I believe it had to be one or two with big enough stomachs to hold all those chicks at one time.

I've had great success catching predators the next night, using any dead or parts of dead chicks/chickens as bait in a live trap. Raccoons & opossums are the biggest ones I've caught. Most people don't have a fox/coyote sized trap. With larger predators the best thing to do is make your chicken housing predator proof. These hungry predators must eat and if they can't get in, they likely won't return.

A good thing to remember is that predators have no choice but to go after food. We open refrigerators & pantries, they get what they can, when and where there can.

As chicken keepers we must learn about the potential predators in our areas and make sure that our coops, yards, & tractors are a safe place for chickens, day or night. Your local Fish & Game or Fish & Wildlife Bureau can tell you what carnivorous animals live in your area. We have a great article about the different Chicken Predators ( http://www.raising-chickens.org/chicken-predators.html ) that gives clues as to which predator may have gotten in to your tractor.

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