What Killed My Baby Chicks?

by Laura
(East Texas )

Question:

What Killed My Baby Chicks? We bought 90 baby chickens that our boys were supposed to show at our local county fair through 4-H at school - we thought it would be a good experience for them.

We had the chicks the first few days in a big metal waterer and last weekend moved them to a pen we made inside our garage. We made a pen out of (3) 5'x8' pieces of plywood and chicken wire.

Yesterday we came home from school and the boys stirred and checked food and water and my oldest (12) stayed home and I took the twins (8) to baseball practice.

I dropped them off and came back home to find all, but one of the chicks had been killed by what appears to us to be a bird of some kind.

There appears to be peck marks on skulls and entrails hanging out, but none were missing??

What would kill them like that and just leave them? It had to have been quiet (my son was in the house) and it did not really mess anything up at all.

I would have thought a bird would have messed up the shavings on the floor etc.?? It is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen!

My husband thought it might have been crows - but I can't imagine them having come in our garage. Any thoughts? Anyone had something similar happen?

Answer:
It is very unfortunate that this happened. The fact that it was done in the daylight makes one think that it could have been a bird.

The fact that the chicks were in the back of the garage makes me think that it probably wasn't.

Most predators do their dirty work at night, so we must then ask ourselves what would be brave enough to come under your garage in the daylight.

It could have been a bobcat, or even a tomcat or some other sort of feral cat. A hawk or an owl would not have killed so many and would have attempted to carry off the killed chicks.

Crows would more than likely have been nervous going into the back of the garage, and would have made enough noise that your son inside probably would have heard them.

It is a brave bobcat to come up while it is still daylight, so I would even lean more toward a tomcat.

Sorry that this happened. I hope you can get some new birds for your sons as I think that this will be an excellent, fun family activity for you all.

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Sep 08, 2009
Cats
by: John

I agree that it was probably a cat that killed your birds. This can be a hard lesson to learn. Next time make sure your brooder is secure. Sorry about your chicks.

Sep 09, 2009
Chicks and Cats Don't Mix...
by: Chicken lover

Sorry to here about the chicks. I have cats and chickens. The garage is not a good place to put chicks, especially if you have cats in the neighborhood.

I know this was not you're fault and again I apologize about the chicks. I hope that you'll get more chicks for your boys, you'll have tons of fun!!!! Take care.

Feb 18, 2011
weasel?
by: judema

It sounds like over kill most predators only kill to eat. However, weasels and foxes will kill everything and they have teeth like a cat.

Skunks will bite off the head and drink the blood but leave the body and a bird would grab and run. Some kind of rodent would be my guess. So sad.

May 01, 2014
Least weasel
by: Lzec

Saw this thing that looked like a flat chipmunk out of the corner of my eye. Didn't think anything about it. Ten minutes later checking on my 50 one week old chicks and found them all dead but one. Saw the weasel and luckily had my gun . Sent him to the promised land. First time this happened and was really shocked.I have some rare chickens coming next week. Sad but glad it wasn't the new expensive batch.

May 23, 2015
Weasel
by: Lou zecchin

Last year I was in my barn working when I saw a chipmunk like animal slither next to me. Not knowing what it was I kept working. 5 minutes later I went to feed the chickens and all were dead. Two minutes later saw this slithering animal came back and I sent him to the promised land.. After that 45 of my full grown hens were all dead all over the yard with only my silkies missing. I thought of weasels , foxes , Cayote ,or what??? I was puzzled until last week when it happened again.to my last 14 chickens , but I saw the culprit a hour later. My neighbors dog a black lab. She lives 1/2 mile away!!it cost her . But the mystery was solved. My new chickens are doing great and now are really secure with fencing, electronics and a Remington 12 gauge

May 23, 2015
Dead Chicks
by: sharon

You mentioned the small creature slithering past you. This sounds like the work of a Mink. (A very small chicken predator, member of the weasel family.) I haven't had to deal with them getting into my chickens, but have read that this is their trait, to kill every chicken they can sink their teeth into. They prefer to drink blood than to eat meat. They are small, difficult to keep out, but if you do have any more Mink, you may need to create a Mink-proof pen to prevent this from happening again. You said you got the creature, good. Mink like to live near water, where they catch fish for food, too.

Labradors are usually "soft mouthed" with birds, since that's what they were bred for, gently carrying, not killing. BUT not all Labs do what is expected. I had a Lab run into my yard and grab one of my free-ranging hens. I think she was just going to bring the bird to her master, but I blocked her escape,until she dropped the chicken. The chicken was fine, the owner profusely apologetic.

Our deepest sympathies for the loss of your chickens.

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