Groundhogs and chickens

by Mary Gould
(Ohio)

Question
Groundhogs and chickens: Thank you so much for your informative website! I'm writing a book, and I found all the information

I needed on ONE PAGE--the chicken predators page. But, a thought occurred to me--would groundhogs (Ohio) ever harm chickens?

My grandma used to tell me about a couple of groundhogs that insisted on digging under the chicken coop, and caused a lot of behavior, scaring the chickens half to death, so that the chickens stopped laying until the groundhogs were gone.

But she never said whether or not the groundhogs harmed any chickens. Would they? Thanx so much for your informative site, and your reply.

Answer
Groundhogs are vegetarians so probably wouldn't do more than mischief. I'm sure chickens would be bothered by such a large animal in their space.

I've never had any bad chicken/groundhog experiences.

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My Bantam Sea Brights

by Ronnie
(Charlotte, NC)

Question
My Bantam Sea Brights: Something got in my coop and scared off my hen & rooster. Do you think they will return?

Answer
I hope so. You don’t say if this happened at night or during the day. If predators can gain access to the inside of the coop at night your chickens might decide that it’s not a safe place to roost and relocate.

Chickens are blind at night and many animals can sneak up on them, from rats and cats to coyotes and dogs or bear and mountain lions, depending where you live.

Little bantams can become prey to just about anything, including hawks during the day. Keeping the coop locked up every night, when most predators are hunting, helps chickens feel safe.

I would continue to keep feed and water in the coop and look around for them, especially near dark. They may be flying up into nearby trees to roost.

If they were chased off during the day there is a better chance they will come back. They may come back to the coop looking for food and water.

If they do, just make sure that nothing bigger than a mouse can get in, once they are safely in for the night.

With Bantams especially, it’s important that they can get through a small door into the coop in case of hawks hunting during the day. When they feel safe they will want to stay.

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Something is stealing chicken eggs

Question
Something is stealing chicken eggs, but not bothering the chickens. There is a small hole that has been dug through the floor, about 2 inches. Have any idea what it could be? It is also winter time and lots of snow.

Answer
( I’m not sure if this is a dirt floor or wood.) The best way to find out is to check the snow for tracks and set a trap.

I’d need to know more about the predators in your area to give a better guess. Could be a young weasel; could be a rat.

In such cold weather it’s probably not a snake. I would hurry up and catch it and remove it from the area. You can check with local Fish and Wildlife authorities to find out what to do with the specific animal you find.

If you find no tracks near the chicken house, it’s probably living underneath and snacking on eggs whenever hungry.

I would suggest collecting your eggs often and getting to the bottom of this. If this is a young predator, your chickens might be next.

It will gain confidence and feel more and more comfortable around them. If the chickens are getting used to it being around, they could become easy prey.

You said the eggs are being stolen, which leads me to believe you aren’t finding broken shells. This would have to be a pretty talented animal to remove a whole egg.

Could be a dog or even a person. (With lots of snow there should be some good evidence if it’s bigger than what could fit through a 2” hole.) Setting an egg in a small to medium live trap near this hole in the floor should catch it, if that’s how it gets in, and won’t be a danger to your chickens. I hope you let us know what you find.

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Egg Stealer

by C.Devine
(Owosso, MI)

Question
Egg Stealer: I have a problem with something getting into my chicken coop.

I even set a live trap up to catch it and even stayed the night to see if I could spot it, but whatever it was, was fast and to light weight to set off the live trap.

Do you have any idea what it could be? There is soft spots in the ground and runs under the fence I have on the floor of the coop also what ever it is is also chewing on the wood to make openings,and all the spots I have found around the coop, the loose dirt is on the inside of the coop.

The holes are big enough to reach my hand in and make a fist, it doesnt seem to be bothering the chickens just stealing the eggs. Please help!

Answer: It sounds like something small and crafty. My guess would be a weasel, skunk, or a raccoon.

If you are not finding pieces of the eggs in the coop it is more than likely your friendly neighborhood raccoon.

Those opposable thumbs come in handy when toting off the eggs. The spot you describe seems small, but animals can squeeze themselves through some mighty small spots.

It seems that once whatever it was got a taste for your eggs that they don't want to let up.

You have to be persistent, because I guarantee that this critter is going to be persistent now. If he has annoyed you enough, and you are willing to spend some money here is a possible solution.

Buy a small wattage electric fence. These can be found at most all feed stores. You can run this just an inch or so off the ground surrounding your coop.

Fill in all holes and places that he has been getting in and turn it on. If your varmint gets hit by the fence a few times he may decide that his egg stealing days are over.

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Rooster attacked by bob cat

by Candy
(OKC)

Question
Rooster attacked by bob cat: I have a rooster that was attacked by a bob cat. Fortunately I was right inside the house, so I was able to chase the cat away after a few seconds.

However, he got a hold of his foot and bit it pretty hard before I could get to him. Now it is swollen, and I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to make sure infection doesn't set in.

Answer
I would suggest penicillin for this kind of injury. I prefer to give injected antibiotics to chickens as oral can cause digestive problems.

You should be able to find that or a good broad spectrum antibiotic for poultry at your local feed store or veterinarian.

Attacks by carnivorous animals can cause serious infection.

I would put him in a hospital cage, where he can rest free from being bothered by other chickens as he heals.

There may have been some bone damage and resting in the cage will give it a better chance to heal quickly.

A round perch in the cage may be more comfortable for his foot than a flat one. Giving him a vitamin electrolyte product for a few days should perk him up and help his immune system fight the infection.

With the antibiotics, good food and water close, and possibly a heat lamp to help with any shock, he should heal quickly.

After the antibiotics I would follow up with probiotics to make sure and replace any good digestive bacteria that may have been killed by the antibiotic. Fruits and fresh greens will help him, too.

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