Sick Chicken

by Lisa
(USA)

Question:

Sick Chicken: We came out this morning and 1 of our hens was dead not just dead but tore up. We checked to make sure nothing had got in the coop and it does not look like it, is it possible the other chickens killed it?

Answer:
It is always possible that other chickens will pick on a weak one, but rare that they will kill a perfectly healthy chicken.

Tearing up another chicken is usually not within the ability of chickens. I would check every nook and cranny of the coop and make sure it can lock up well at night.

Raccoons are generally the most aggressive in killing a chicken, but they can be a fair sized animal and would require a significant entry into the coop.

Skunks will kill a chicken for food as well as several other night predators. Opossums, with their poor eye sight and slow movements are usually only able to catch and kill chicks.

Rats are another potential killer of chickens, if they are hungry enough. If there are rats in the area, they may have torn up chicken they found already killed by another animal.

Rats can get through very small cracks in walls and floors. If birds of prey can gain access to the coop during the day, they are capable, with very sharp beaks, to tear a chicken up.

When attempting to catch a night time chicken killer, it’s a good idea to use the remains as bait the following night. Setting the trap near where you believe it may have entered, can make it easy.

I have wired the remains to the inside back of a live trap, causing the animal that enters to really have to work to try to loose it, which almost always a guarantees the trap will be shut on them.

ALWAYS USE THE UTMOST CAUTION WHEN TRYING TO CAPTURE WILD ANIMALS. THEY MAY BITE, IF THEY CAN REACH FINGERS AND SOME CAN CARRY RABIES. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE OF A LIVE TRAP OR GET PROFESSIONAL HELP, IF YOU ARE UNSURE WHAT TO DO. OF COURSE, IF YOU CATCH A SKUNK, YOU HAVE THE PROBLEM OF HOW TO HANDLE THE TRAP, WHEN YOU HAVE TO MOVE IT.

I ALWAYS ASSUME I WILL CATCH A SKUNK AND PLACE THE TRAP IN SUCH A WAY THAT I CAN APPROACH WITHOUT GETTING SPRAYED. ALSO, EACH STATE AND COUNTY HAS ITS OWN RULES ABOUT TRAPPING WILD ANIMALS.

SOME ARE PROTECTED AND IT’S ILLEGAL TO DESTROY THEM WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE. IF YOU CALL LOCAL AUTHORITIES, THEY MAY BE ABLE TO ASSIST IN TRAPPING AN ANIMAL THAT IS KILLING CHICKENS.

WHEN I LIVED IN OREGON, THEY DROPPED OFF A TRAP FOR ME TO BORROW AND GAVE ME PERMISSION TO DESTROY THE ANIMAL I CAUGHT.

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