Chicken Predators: Your Chicken's Worst Nightmare

by Jackie
(Grandy, NC 27939)

You did a great job with the section Chicken Predators: Your Chicken's Worst Nightmare. However I was most interested in How will I know that it was a weasel/Stoat that killed my chicken?

I live in N.E North Carolina. I have a chicken coop and a large 35' X 75' run which is fenced and covered with a net.

A week ago we found my large rooster still in the fence with his head token off only. Either its head was eaten through the fence or killed and dragged to fence to try taking him but couldn't.

Yesterday afternoon we found our large hen outside the fence with her head missing only.

We walked all over the run and only saw a small bit of dirt dug-out like a small animal did this. We filled it back in just to find the next day it was dug-out again. I don't understand if it came in that way how did it get my fairly large hen through it?

I believe there are weasels/stoat in NC but I nor anyone else around here has ever seen one.

It seems like all the predators you listed all would eat the heads but also rip open the body in the chest area...

We had raccoons a mother and babies here last year living in a tree for several months. I was always worried they would kill my chickens. A couple of times during the week I would see her and her babies lying on a branch I would call up to her and tell her she better not touch my chickens!! I caught her in my chicken's area many times over the months but she never touched my chickens!! Haven't seen them in a year...

So what do you think it is..?

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What Killed Your Chickens
by: sharon

So sorry for your losses, Jackie.

What you have described sounds possibly like a mink or other in the weasel family or possibly a skunk. It's nearly impossible to keep the smaller weasels out of pens and they have a tendency to drink blood, rather than eat meat. A skunk can get through a small spot and will dig under, just enough to squeeze through, but not necessarily enough to be able to get a chicken out. In my experience skunks are likely to eat the head.

Sounds like this is happening over night. The only way I know to protect chickens over night is in a totally predator proof coop that is locked up tight all night, every night. Times I've been lazy or relaxed that routine, my chickens have paid for it.

I've had rats chew holes in wood coop flooring to get in for chicken feed. These holes have to be patched quick to prevent weasel types & more rats from getting in.

Chickens are so vulnerable at night if any predator can get to them. The predators are really not at fault. They are hungry and doing what they need to do to survive, so it's up to us to out-smart them and keep them out.

Predators usually return to the scene of the "crime" so I have solved the mystery of who was responsible by using the dead chickens to lure the predators into a live trap the next night, near where they left their prey. It's not always the same predator, but often is.

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