New and need help

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by thesimplelife, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. thesimplelife

    thesimplelife New Member

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    Hi all! New to the forum and to the chicken world. We reside in Pa. We started our flock in April. We purchased 7 ( 5 RIRs and 2 leghorns) hens. Three weeks later we purchased 6 Americaunas ( which turned out to be a mix bunch. One suspected to be a BR hen and a docile, entertaining, watchdog roo).
    In June we picked up 8-18wk old RIRs. We've been fortunate with them sorting out their differences and it seemed the flocks stuck together with the Americauna mixes getting the brunt of the bullying. Nothing more than being chased a few inches.
    This past Saturday we opened the coop to find the black Americauna had fell to her death and broke her neck. She was the underdog and always picked on. We accepted to be that and have slowly move on. Only to go out this morning and find one of the older RIR hens that we purchased in June, DEAD. A few feathers missing but no blood. I haven't noticed any pecking issues as discussed in many forums and magazines.
    I'm stunned and so disheartened. They have 120 sft coop, a sizable area that is still under construction....I just can't put a handle on knowing what is going on!
    The coop (reformed shed) doors are open from 5 am until dark. We aren't sure if the first death happened after the coop was opened for the day or through the night. Hubby has paid special attention each morning and counts them now. They were all alive and counted for today.
    Our son believes the "Americauna" aka barred rock hen is the aggressor but up to the time of the black hens death was picked on.
    Any insight, tips, etc to avoid this?
    Our last set of hens just peaked 18 wks and will be laying any day. They are all the same size.
    Thanks and I apologize for the lengthy post. Needed to give all info possible.
     
  2. Energyvet

    Energyvet New Member

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    I'm wondering about a predator. I'm not great in this area but as a guess I would say a rat?!? I think I heard that they will kill them and suck the blood out. Other predators take the whole chicken. Someone back me up here. Someone with more predator experience, please.
     

  3. jjjennygirl

    jjjennygirl Junior Member

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    I was guessing predator too. I have made many revisions to my coop over the years. I lost 2 hens early on to a coon. If they can reach through they will grab them while they are sleeping and try to pull them through. About 6 months ago my daughter caught a hawk in our coop killing our BR hen (coop left open during the day). Our most recent predator is a fox. He comes during the day and had taken a few hens...the girls have been in full lock down for the past few weeks...just recently I have started letting them out in the late afternoon until dark. Last few days have been okay. I have watched the hens establish their pecking order...sometimes I hear a squeal but usually there are not any big injuries.
     
  4. fuzziebutt

    fuzziebutt Flocker

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    A predator can dig under, or climb over. Any small spot that you can see, they can get in. Racoons, possums, minks, rats, just to name a few. Some will suck the blood out and leave the chicken nearly whole. Horrible to find a massacre. Do your girls weigh what they should? Do they seem healthy otherwise? I would get a live trap, and see what you catch. Or a deer cam and see what it sees in there. Good luck!
     
  5. TajMaCluckCoop

    TajMaCluckCoop Not so Junior-Junior Member

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    Before I jumped to the conclusion of a predator, I'd evaluate a few things. You have added alot of chickens together in a short time. You don't mention how old "everyone" is now, or how old they were as you added each group in.... Have you checked the dead ones to see how skinny they are? Do you have more than one feeding station so no one gets blocked out of food or water? Do they free range....are they all getting water throughout the day? How hot is the coop? Is there any sneezing? What are you feeding? Yes, a predator is some thing to look at but not the only thing.... I lost two early on for no apparent reason as well--it freaked me out and I almost gave up. You may never find the cause, sometimes chickens just die. So sorry for your loss. Hang in there!
     
  6. fuzziebutt

    fuzziebutt Flocker

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    Great post, Kimberly! I kinda wondered about anything other than predators, when I asked about the weight and if they seemed alright otherwise, but I also jumped on the predator bandwagon. Good catch!!
     
  7. catlady6200

    catlady6200 Junior Member

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    When we built our coop we lined the underside of the floor with rabbit wire completely and used trex for the floor and around the bottom that goes to the ground. We dug out a foot of dirt for the entire yard and put rabbit wire with trex all around it and stapled the wire to the trex. Refilled the hole with dirt that we add to occasionally because we have to rake it out so much. We used chicken wire (1") for the entire yard including the top. Then covered the bottom with 3' high rabbit wire. We had some bad experiences with predators years ago and was determined to make sure it was predator proof this time. We had to make it rat proof from the bottom and raccoon proof. Also since we have owls, hawks etc. needed to keep them from coming down from the top. We now have fort knox for them.
    From what you have described my thoughts are predator, but you put so many chickens of so many different ages it could very well be an alpha chick weeding out the flock of what she considers undesireables. If possible, separate them by ages for a bit and strenghten the coop and yard and see if that makes a difference. At the very least you will find out what is killing the chicks.
    And hens won't lay until they are 6 months old.
     
  8. hollyosborn

    hollyosborn HollyOsborn

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    one of my BR babies just up and died one day walking up the hill.. I had trouble with her before when the dog scared her, she was trying to die and i woudlnt let her.. this time she was walking along and the rancher across the river was shooting sage rats... BOOM.... down she went.. couldnt save her that time.. i think she had a heart attack!.... but on yours im thinking the age range as well????
     
  9. midge124

    midge124 New Member

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    I am new to this forum and also from PA! I live in Upper Black Eddy,where are you from? I have loss a lot of chickens to predators (foxes,coons,hawks) to name a few over the 8 years. It is very upsetting to me when this happens because they are my babies!!! I just love to watch them play around and stuff. I make sure to close my small flock of 6 hens and 2 roosters up everynight by 7:00-7:30.I don't use our trap door anymore for them,as a matter of fact we screwed it shut cause something was unlatching and squeezing in thru it and dragging the hens out of coop and trying to drag them thru the fence! I just make sure I do a head count every morning and every night and make sure I have eveything closed up at night and that I also never leave eggs sitting all night!! Wish I could help you more than I did,but there is some good advice above and I also will folling what they had said!
     
  10. twentynine

    twentynine New Member

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    Sometimes chickens just die.

    If I added correctly 21 chicken from 3 different places at 3 different time intervals.

    No marks or blood found on the dead ones.

    I'm not thinking predator, I'm thinking some sort of minor illness that only acutely affected the weaker members of your flocks.