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How have predators gotten the better of you

5534 Views 38 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  seminole wind
I saw a thread such as this on another forum, and thought it would be a good primer for this forum. So this is a spot where everyone can tell their horror stories of how predators made it past your defenses, and brought you grief. Maybe we can all learn from each others misfortune. JA
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Luckily I have not had a loss yet, but I do know at some point one will come. We free range and are surrounded by woods. We do have some huge hawks that fly over head now and then but usually my Pekin sounds the alarm and the flock runs under the porch, trampoline, or run to the coop.
I too have been fortunate so far. Like you, I live in heavy woods, surrounded by hawks, owls, raccoons,opossums,and snakes. This idiot dog my daughter adopted ( foisted upon me!) appears to be of particular concern. JA
I too have been fortunate so far.
Not so much here. We mostly free range. I 2010 we lost most of our flock of 50 with a fox outbreak. I couldn't figure out how they were getting in the coop area at night when the gate was closed. The fence was chain link, about 5' high and buried 6"-8" in the ground. :confused:

One morning I left for the days job much earlier than usual. It was just beginning to get light. I looked out across the pasture at the coop and saw a shadow moving towards it. I went to the shed and grabbed the .22 and waited to see how it was getting in. Then I saw the second one coming. As the first one started working his way around the pen the chickens started getting restless but still I waited. Much to my surprise he jumped up about 3' on one of the wooden corner posts, over the fence and down into the run. Canine's aren't supposed to climb like a cat, are they? But now he's in a bad way with me only about 40yds away. ;) The second one, hearing the shot, took off. Over the next couple weeks I made sure I was up before dawn and sitting in the shed before the breakfast buffet could begin. :) But the damage was done and we had to rebuild the flock as well as add another roll of chicken wire to raise the fence to a little over 7'
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This is EXACTLY why this thread will prove valuable! I would NEVER have thought a fox would climb like that! I know we do have foxes here in Florida, but fortunately, I have not seen any. If a fox could do that, what would stop a raccoon from doing likewise? Thank you very much for sharing this! I am very sorry for your losses. Now, I'm going to go reexamine my coop set up. JA
Raccoons will climb a chain link fence. My run is two re-purposed dog kennels to form a 10ft by 24 ft by 6 ft high pen. Bottom is hardened with concrete blocks to prevent digging in. I put an eight foot high ridge pole down the middle & covered it with wire, then covered half of that with a re-purposed vinyl material that gives shade & keeps snow from falling in at that end. The gable ends were left open. On three raids over about five days my flock went from three dozen birds to two birds. At first they were climbing the fence & coming through the gable end. I put in a temporary divider fence, set several leg hold traps in a circle & baited them with the dead carcass. The traps were anchored to the ground with a chain. I left my bedroom window open so I could hear when the '**** was in the trap. The chain was long enough to let them climb about halfway up, making them easy targets for my 22 & mini maglight. I killed a half dozen '***** & one groundhog. The biggest '**** actually pulled her leg out of the trap & escaped leaving just some fur behind. And yes, that groundhog actually climbed in & was eating the dead chicken before getting caught in the traps. I never knew they would do that. As I closed up the holes in my defenses the '***** got more creative. The last few kills they just reached through the fence & grabbed a chicken when she got too close. Lining the chain link with chicken wire around the bottom fixed that. I went several years without a problem & usually don't lock the girls in at night. Then one warm night they were roosting outside near the garden & something killed nine birds & one pet rabbit. I put out the traps & bait & killed two more '*****. Been quiet ever since.

I see a few red fox but they don't seem to come that close, maybe within 75 yards but no closer. I saw one after a neighbor's cat, but the cat got away. If you have a fox problem, they are a lot harder to bait. Set your traps where you can check them from a distance. Set a good auger in the ground & place a half dozen traps in a circle around it with 18 inch chains. Cover everything with used straw from your chickens & place a dead chicken in the middle. Do not go near your set again!! When the fox decides to take the bait he should step in a trap & while struggling will step in the others. If the bait starts rotting & you want to freshen it, have someone ride in the back of a pickup & use a long pole to drop the bait. Fresh human scent will spoil your set. Hopefully you won't trap a bunch of dogs, cats, *****, possums, groundhogs, etc while waiting for your fox. BTW, that's why I put my traps inside the coop with the temporary fence to keep the chickens away. I figured whatever climbed in there was fair game.
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Forgot to add, to trap a fox you need to boil your traps & use rubber gloves & rubber boots, etc. They are very wary & any human scent will spook them away. There is a reason they call them Sly, & it has nothing to do with Stallone. Or the Family Stone either. :D:DThere are lots of sites that can explain it better.
predators ...

They come in all different shapes and sizes ...

From the mink to the fox and on to the african lion cross that was spotted 30 miles west of me last month and will not talk about the coyote or cougar. (and yea, I know we don't have an cougars east of ol miss. lol :rolleyes:)

If you critters, you have predators.

I like my dogs and my secret weapon ... "Eeyore" our mini Jack, I wanted to call him Radar, but lost out. ;)

We got to see him in action the other day when a unknown dog found its way in his path ... rather cool ... :D
Well this is really interesting for me as we are just building our coop now and the chicks will be outside in a few weeks... I am totally surrounded by woods and I know that hawks won't generally be a problem (I am a falconer so I know their hunting grounds and we aren't it) I am hoping that the smell of my nine dogs will help keep predators away... but who knows... I honestly think my Irish Wolfhound will take out anything that comes near that isn't supposed to be here but that doesn't account for at night when everyone is in... gonna go and pick up the wire to cover the run today...
We had a neighbor with chows. Two of them, aggressive even for the breed. One day I came home and found the massacre in my yard.

I went on the prowl and followed the feathers and gore of course it led to the neighbor's. I knocked and knocked, no answer. I called the Sheriff.

About the time I called the neighbor came out screaming and shouting at me as to why I would throw dead chickens in her yard. I stood there stunned as the Sheriff pulled up.

This was an older couple who's dogs where their children. I decided that it was better to live and let live. The dogs remained and I fortified the area so they couldn't get in. A couple of years later the neighbors passed and I moved.
Bears. Our worst loses was "The Summer of the Bear" as I called it. It was the year that I ordered 40 new peeps to add to my flock of 12 and to add some roosters in. Well, once that group was free ranging we had to get started on a bigger coop and run, and we had a broody hen with no rooster, so we called and visited and came up with duck eggs.

The first hit was to the coop at night, early Spring, it was a small bear and he did a great job destroying the roof panel and reached through "fishing" for chickens on the roost. The girls were wise enough to jump off the roost and get away. Then we were outside with the shotgun in our underwear with a spot light. The whole roof was ruined and had to be replaced. A metal panel went over the roost and I booby-trapped the whole thing as well as put a few things to make noise if a bear bothered it again. There were a few more attempts, a few more shots at 2am in our underwear, but no loses. The big flock was still just peeps, but the bear didn't go to the greenhouse with the peeps, but the coop with the older girls.

Flash forward to happy mama hen and two baby ducks and a whole lot of chickens running around, midsummer. The first hit that we knew of was the mama and the baby ducks. The ducks were just dead in the middle of the yard and the mama was cleanly eaten about half way in the middle of the yard. All the predators in our area take the body away, they don't dine out in the open. The fox/coyote kills always leave a mass of feathers, this was clean. No feathers, no blood nothing. A cleaned out body, well, half a body. Also, all other loses we ever had were at night, dawn or twilight, not high noon!!

Every 5 days this happened. I lost my chosen breeding rooster, Basil with a few more hens, then again in 5 more days.

Our local bears up to that point never bothered us. I had to take the bird feeder down before the end of April each night, but other than seeing a giant black bear sunning themselves in the back yard, or just wandering through. We would be outside grilling and see them only 50 feet away under the apple trees in the fall, and always being careful of the bear poo in the field when walking the dogs. This year was different.

I started talking to neighbors, a mama and three cubs were trapped just 3 miles up the road by a christmas tree farmer. Two days before TWO bears were trapped over the mountain going through a dumpster. The same week I had sighted a mama and at least one cub while gardening. Once I saw the cub, I went in the house and took the dogs in with me. So it was clear, this many bears in such a small area was just too many bears.

I suspected the ones killing the chickens was a mama and cubs, due to the LOADS of poo I found in the middle of the yard and the various sizes etc. I was very tired of the game commissioners telling me "poo poo bears are only after your chicken feed, stop leaving it where they can find it." Now I had chicken feed accessible, 25+ pounds of it, and these bears were walking past the feed and killing the chickens!!

After losing so many, my husband took a vacation day on what would have been the next 5th day. We stayed out in the yard with the dog (just a pup back then) on a long leash, and he kept is shot gun near by. Around 11:30am the dog went on alert at the lower corner of the yard. He would stare into the woods, hackles up and low growling. Then he would go back to not caring. About 30 minutes later, same thing, only a slightly different place in the woods. This went on for about 5 hours, and the area he stared at changed little by little, and eventually circled the whole yard. Before dinner time we put on our muck boots and went for a walk across the creek towards the last area that the dog growled at. We could hear something in the woods in the distance, but never did get a sighting.

Well, the game commissioner did give us a bear trap, and in two weeks we caught a very irritated raccoon. I was so excited when I saw the door closed, I wanted to see the bear, but I peeked through one of the holes in the side to see a raccoon curled up asleep next to his donut stash!!! After that they took the trap because the bears were still tearing up the dumpsters over the mountain.

What finally brought everything to an end was our electric garden fence. We would find a LOT of poo in the garden, and when we found tracks, they always came from the same direction. Once the fence was hot we went around a baited it with foil and peanut butter. Anyone licking the peanut butter was in for a rude awakening. Not only did it keep out the deer, but ALL bear sightings, poo findings, and killings stopped. I think they were coming it, pooping in the garden and then turning their heads and thinking "hey there are some chickens to eat" and then turning right to come up to the coop and the yard where the chickens spent their day. After the fence went hot, they turned left and went back into the woods.

To date, bears have been our worst predator. We lost 10 or 12 hens and the two baby ducks that year. Since moving to a new house we have had fox loses, hawk loses and I think a dog killed a hen. We just found a hen, she had been attacked, but not taken. Two days later everyone is letting loose at first light. My husband saw white paws out the window under the pine tree, but never saw anything else. Once he got downstairs with the shot gun nothing was there, and no one was missing.

I'm knocking wood about racoons. I've had more visits from possums, but they are after the eggs that the girls insist on laying in the woods where I can't find them!!! We have a good coop and so far no one has broken in. :) I hear racoons very close by, the kids see them on walks, very close by, but so far no issues. I think having a big dog helps!
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I have been lucky so for with no loss. I did have to dispatch a **** and a opossum but other then that the bigger critters stay away. I think it may be because my male Husky/lab/Shepperd dog has the most pungent smelling urine I have ever smelled from a dog.
Recently though a Mama Bear and three cubs have been seen on the ridge so I have kept an eye out for them.
I had all of those problems so I surrounded my chicken pen with a dog run and put a bloodhound to protect my chickens. Have not lost one since. but I do find a dead critter in the dog yard from time to time.
well.. after losing a chick Sunday night to SOMETHING... i made sure today to cover EVERY hole with chicken wire, blocks.. anything i could find... tonight at about midnight i heard this awful sound, listened.. nothing more.. my dog (chained up) was growling... midnight 30... i hear it again, this time i go outside and turn her loose.. she takes off down the hill to the coop. ok so i live in NOWHERE... 50 acres of DARK when its night.. no lights... all sorts of animals around... and im standing there on the porch with a flashlight, thinking.... my kids arent here to go with me... WHAT IF ITS A COUGAR.... oh tuff up holly, so i head down there with my 4 cats in tow... crazy cats.... Mia is going crazy at the door, so i open it up..she tears in there and luck be it ALL the chickens were on the roost, even the 4 remaining babies... mia is going crazy behind the nest where Nimrod was laying.... no nimrod.. and im thinking... CRAP... where is she... well the dog knocked a board down behind the nest.. on top of the SKUNK... making it spray.. yes i was in there but ran out yelling RUNNNNNN MIA RUNNNN.. she didnt run.. she kept at it. it moved under another nesting box.. and 30 min later she finally got it out of there.. shook that sucker to death and came out rubbing herself in the dirt... she got sprayed soooo bad... the chickens were all cheering her on.. i held the flashlight!. SADLY.. we lost Nimrod... how can a skunk smaller than the hen kill it? no clue how it got in.. but tomorrow.. or today now.. will bring rebuilding nesting boxes.. straightening up the coop... Nimrod laid the sweetest little tiny eggs too... i was hoping to hatch some of her babies in the new incubator... IM SAD!!!!! but.. i will be fixing my dog the best breakfast and dinner she has ever had.. thats ONE time i didnt scold her for getting into a skunk!!!
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Our biggest problem was our dog Reni. She a mixed mutt that we love to death. She is great at keeping an eye on our goats, but with an eye to have a chicken or guinea if she got a chance. We have been working with her and she does well when the birds are in the run, but we have watch her closely if a bird gets outside of the fence.
I so far have dealt with an assortment if predators. I live high in the Rockies, nothing but national Forest for a long ways. I have lost over 10 birds in one summer(1st summer with birds). Raccoons seem to be the biggest issue, next in line are roaming dogs followed by foxes.
Just last night I had something in the trap large enough to bend steel and rip open the trap like a paper bag.
I have bit lost any of my flock for a few months, as I have built my coop into a fortress if solitude and safety for my flock. I have seen bob cat, lynx, skunk, ****, coyote, fox, black bear, hawks and eagles, as well as a group of ravens all looking eagerly at the coop, most run off with a well aimed bottle rocket.
It's not until they enter my landscapes portion of the yard do the sights align on them. I love the forest animals, they are simply doing their job. I simply prefer their job does not happen in my coop.
Now I always have a live trap set, as well as a few foot hold type traps, and now I've added a duke DP to the line up. My attitude is the free food in the traps will be more likely to get eaten then the predators trying to get into the coop.
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I am a backyard chicken novice in a semi-suburban location I think ( about a half-acre lot, fenced backyard, in-town). I became complacent and lost three juvenile hens from not closing them up early enough at night. A friend replaced them with 6 juveniles. I thought I had the coop locked up like Fort Knox but the **** came back and got in through the nest box lid. It was a slaughter but I also caught the **** in my live trap. He was in there for a couple days I think, tore up the tarp over the trap, my dog got after it (and I have major bruises and a tetanus shot)from trying to keep the dog from being bitten and the **** escaped in the night by Bending The Trap (it was hard for me to straighten later with pliers). So i have NO chickens now but a duke dog proof on order and I WILL NOT STOP till he is gone. And I will continue. If you have chooks the ***** will come. You have to continue to trap. Before I replace I will have triple locks all over. On every door. I thought I was good but while the dog slept the havoc ensued.
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I'm sorry to year your similar misfortune. Keep at it, I find mallows and anchovies to work well, try to keep your scent off the duke. wear rubber gloves. Also place the duke in an area with a natural funnel. I use a tree that's near the coop, where I suspect the fur bags to come from. I also set a foot hold trap, I believe it's a number 5. There are a lot if loose dogs around, so I set the foot hold inside the run, it is armed each night when the birds go to roost, and I disarm it when I go to let them out.
My attitude is if they are inside the run, no mercy. It's an extra step, and has not yet been successful, but one of these days.
I free range and don't have a run, nor do I close up my coop at night. My coops aren't predator proofed either. I use dogs for predators and they have been effective for most predators from possum, ****, fox, bear, coyote, hawk and eagles for the past 10 years and or more. The only things that have gotten past them in all these years were a black snake and a Great Horned Owl.

The black snake took 3 chicks from an outside brooder and then couldn't get back out of the wire because of the bulges in her body...she was dispatched with a garden hoe. Moth balls were placed around the coops and no snakes since then.

The owl picked off a young loner pullet that wouldn't roost in the coop but insisted on sleeping in the hay shed, way up on the hay. This was out of the reach of dog protection and I knew it was only a matter of morning we found her body in the adjacent pasture, missing her head. Nothing else was eaten, just the head.

That pretty much took care of the problem. Any chicken not smart enough to roost in the dog's boundaries is fair game to preds and they are welcome to her...natural selection.

Had a few young Delaware juveniles disappear this spring and I'm guessing it was the local grey fox, though I'm not sure as we didn't know when they went missing...the young birds were ranging too far out in the woods in areas that the dog can't reach quickly enough. That fox is like a ghost..I've only seen him one time at a distance and he was gone so quick it was mere seconds. Again, the birds without good flocking and ranging instincts are a good riddance to poor traits..if they cannot stick close to the flock and the guardian, they are fair game.
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powderhogg01 said:
I'm sorry to year your similar misfortune. Keep at it, I find mallows and anchovies to work well, try to keep your scent off the duke. wear rubber gloves. Also place the duke in an area with a natural funnel. I use a tree that's near the coop, where I suspect the fur bags to come from. I also set a foot hold trap, I believe it's a number 5. There are a lot if loose dogs around, so I set the foot hold inside the run, it is armed each night when the birds go to roost, and I disarm it when I go to let them out.
My attitude is if they are inside the run, no mercy. It's an extra step, and has not yet been successful, but one of these days.
Yes, thank you. I caught the **** (temporarily, unfortunately) with a piece of leftover pork but i understand that once they escape from a live trap they are unlikely to be caught in one again so I will get some mallows and anchovies to bait the duke. What is a foot hold? I placed the live trap inside a fenced area outside the run but where my dog couldn't reach....until he went in with me and that's when it all broke loose. I'll have to figure out where to place the duke.
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