I used to like our chickens to roam freely in the backyard. Well, for multiple summers in a row now, that's not turned out all that great for the chickens.
Last year we had a fox visit regularly for about 2 weeks. (lost about 10 birds to that buggar). And again this summer...for about 2 weeks...and again...lost about 10 birds to that buggar. (I'm thinking was the same fox...but I suppose could have been a different one.) Doesn't matter really.
So I've learned a few things about chicken predators over the years.
- Hunt during the day, usually early morning.
- They kill multiple birds at one time, then gather them all up and take the entire chicken away leaving only a puff of feathers as evidence that you lost a bird. They'll come back later if they can't carry them all at once.
- Impossible to catch in the act. They seem to know when you're home and outside and then patiently wait until nobody is around to attack.
- The photo below surprised me. Fox at night...I'd found our rooster dead one day after a fox attack where I found no less than 3 piles of feathers. Tied his body to this tree and set up my camera. Look who came lurking after dark. Apparently fox hunt at night also.
- These little rascals are nocturnal. Night time hunter/seeker/troublemakers. Is rare if you see them in daylight and if you do it's probably because they are ill/sick.
- If they can get into your chicken barn they will eat eggs and also kill your chickens right off their roosts.
- They leave the chicken bodies behind. (Often times incriminating another animal as the culprit..such as a possum)
- These guys are scavengers mostly....but I've come to believe they're not chicken killers but rather eat on what the raccoons leave behind (hence the incrimination).
- They'll eat eggs and already dead chickens, but I don't believe they kill chickens.
- Daunting when you have these aerial predators around because apart from netting or overhead protection of some sort...you will lose chickens to these ruthless predators.
- You can't really do anything about these feathered fellas and gals because it's illegal to kill them. If they do kill one of your birds...might as well leave the body so they get their fill. They will come back hour after hour, day after day to eat on that dead bird until they get their fill.
- Not only do hawks kill living chickens or living things in general, but they will also eat on road kill or something freshly killed on the road.
Close up the barn at night...just before dark. (Auto doors work great! Battery powered, open and close automatically at sunrise and sunset).
Netting over the chicken yard if at all possible.
Shore up the chicken yard fences. Wire fencing down into the ground at the bottom of your fences will help deter digger/tunnelers too.
Purchase replacement chickens. Now this of course is futile if you don't first make attempt to deter predators. Here's my latest batch of replacements.
Stay tuned. There's never a dull moment around here. Always some predator lurking about.