Using metal such as tin or wood for the coop and run cover, hardware cloth or chicken wire are good options. I often hear about the devastating loss of a flock from an unknown predator. It’s a possibility, then, that when he was let out this morning, he may have tried to chase the hens and he bit the Alpha rooster on the back while the rooster was defending the flock. Yesterday, I also had to reprimand the dog as he began to give chase to one of the hens. They also love heat lamps… I have heard some disturbing stories about homesteaders finding snakes curled up in a nest box, full of an egg or two. They’re an easy mark for predators at this point; they don’t defend themselves or try to escape. Chicken keepers understand, without a doubt, that a farm is a tenuous balance of predators and prey – nature’s checks and balances. Most adults weigh between 22 to 25 pounds on average. Now a word about relocation. Your best bet is to consult with your state’s department of wildlife or conservation, and in the case of domestic dogs, consult an attorney familiar with animal law in your state. You can also identify predators by the scat they leave behind or how they wound chickens. by Maat van Uitert | Dec 21, 2015 | Chickens, Podcast | 9 comments, Table of Contents (Quickly Jump To Information). A fox is opportunistic, he will visit your garden regularly (a little tip, if it snows, go out and have a look for paw prints to see if foxes are visiting and how close they get to your chickens – you might be surprised!) There are certainly breeds like livestock guardian dogs, that are more protective of a flock of chickens. Raccoon are extremely smart and can figure out how to open simple latches, so if raccoon are an issue in your area, then using several latches or a single complicated one is a good deterrent. To illustrate the kind of damage a pack of coyotes can do, I’ve seen photos of calves, probably between 2-3 weeks old, that have been completely skeletonized by a pack of coyotes overnight after it became their chosen prey. But they will eat chicks, young birds and they love eggs. So opossums use their claws to kill chickens, ripping them open and pretty much apart. I looked around the yard and finally found him dead inside an open storage shed. Or, might just be your dog, as was our situation. Of course, if you see raccoon tracks, which are bigger than opossum tracks, you’ll know your culprit that way too. When these predators attack your flock, you will probably not even realize it until it is too late. Minks will leave,”vampire marks”,on the neck,drinking the blood and leaving the body intact. So, are there chicken predators in your area that you regularly contend with? And like most domesticated animals, chickens prefer to be kept in groups. You should check with your local wildlife authority about whether you’re allowed to kill coyotes before shooting one, to be on the safe side, but you can always let a few rounds off which might scare them away. Now, there are about 270 species of hawks, and the ones pecking off your flock will depend on the species specific to your area. READ NEXT: 10 ABNORMAL CHICKEN EGGS & WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW! Coyotes are third on our list of chicken predators, and if you don’t know what that is, a coyote is a species of canine that hunts in packs. Weasel might be a strong possibility, they can get through tiny cracks. Place netting over any outdoor space for your flock. About Easter Egger Chickens: Friendly, Colorful Egg Layers, 20 DIY Chicken Brooders from the Low Cost to the Beautiful and Durable, How to Breed Chickens for a Colorful Egg Basket, 19 Homemade Healthy Chicken Treats Recipes Your Chickens Will Love, About Fayoumi Chickens: Backyard Egyptian Birds, How to Introduce New Chickens into an Old Laying Flock, Eggs and Meat Productions: What You Need to Know as a Chicken Owner, About White Faced Black Spanish Chickens: The Farm Clowns, About Buckeye Chickens: Practical Egg and Meat Producers, Top 10 Chicken Breeds That Will Give You up to 300 Eggs per Year, Give your coops a floor that cannot be dug into or place chicken wire at the base of the coop so it will cut whatever tries to dig under the coop, Give your coop a higher latch and one that would be difficult for a toddler to open, Chicken wire is your friend. Last week I had my first close-encounter with a predator… Even though I allow my flock to free range during the day and I live among a slew of predators (fox, raccoon, hawk, etc..), Hawks have extremely good eyesight and like to perch high to scan for prey. I can’t say 100% that it’s a dog, obviously, but that would be my first guess. And they might not be your dogs, but perhaps a neighbor’s, or family member’s. In the United Kingdom, the number one predator for chickens is of course the fox but did you know that some people also have badgers killing their chickens? Some chicken owners prefer to trap and release wildlife that’s been attacking their chickens. This is just my PSA based on experience. Foxes Are Great Escape Artists – Build Your Coop Safe. Predator-Proof Chicken Coops? 4. This is the third of our 4-part installment of our how to identify chicken predators: … Foxes I also advise covering your run if you think dog might jump into it. Hawks, like the fox and coyote are well prepared for their attack by staking out the premises beforehand. If you need to catch a chicken, go out with a flashlight a couple hours after darkness has fallen, and you should have … I would love it if you dropped me a line at [email protected] to let me know how you handle chicken predators or if you have any questions about it. While opossums will eat chickens where they’ve killed them, raccoon will sometimes eat them there, but they’ll also strew the bodies yards away from the kill site, so if you come across a number of dead chickens, and they’re all over the place, it’s more likely a raccoon than a opossum. If digging underground to get into the coop becomes an issue, then letting your chicken wire go 4 inches below the surface of the soil will deter the digging. The easiest way to protect your flock from chicken predators like hawks is by constructing a secure coop with a covered run. My dog was an indoor dog that I’d had for years, and he was gentle with people and my cats. Humans aren’t the only animal that enjoys a delicious chicken dinner. What happened was during the struggle, the possum began banging on a brooder that’s against the house. In my area, it’s not recommended to relocate wildlife because our local department of conservation is concerned about spreading diseases, creating problems for other chicken owners, and upsetting the established wildlife population. Knowing a little about chicken behavior is crucial […] (LIKE THIS PODCAST? I’m Maat from FrugalChicken, and I’m sorry this episode is a bit late, I’ve been battling strep throat this week, and I wanted to spare you the pain of hearing my voice. It may seem silly to think that a hawk could attack a chicken and fly away with it, but it happens all of the time. chicken predators chart Make sure everything is secured as tightly as possible. Reading Time: 5 minutes By Gail Damerow – Keep a flock for long and sooner or later you’ll be asking yourself, “What killed my chicken?” Many marauders love our backyard chickens as much as we do, and each leaves a calling card that offers a clue as to which predator you’re dealing with. Now that you know the top 12 chicken predators, you're armed with the knowledge you need to secure your flock in the safest possible coop. Now, there are about 270 species of hawks, and the ones pecking off your flock will depend on the species specific to your area. They’re slightly larger than foxes. Thank you for doing that podcast! Their barks are rapid and high pitched and you usually hear a lot of them at once. It is important to note before we begin that there is no such thing as a 100% predator-proof coop. It’s almost ready to launch (and a lot of the materials are up there already, just a few more videos I need to complete.). However, any poorly protected livestock, including chickens, can appear on the cougar’s menu. Similarly if a chicken got too close to him, it was toast. Chicken keepers understand, without a doubt, that a farm is a tenuous balance of predators and prey – nature’s checks and balances. Evening. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. But I’ve also seen lap dogs, like Pomeranians, kill chicks, so while certainly some breeds are  more predisposed to hunting instincts, I think it just depends on the individual dog. I’ve had possums get into my coop under a door that had an extra wide gap, so they can get through narrow spaces. These large cats are not common chicken predators because they prefer much larger prey. No flesh removed though. Including hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls eye your chickens from the sky. Dogs usually kill for sport by gripping the chicken in the middle, then shaking the bird until it’s mortally wounded. Using 1” to ½” hardware cloth is best, and I like to staple the hardware cloth to wood on the top and bottom of the coop and run so the opossums can’t fit underneath. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. I posted it on my Facebook page and got an excellent response. That being said, I had one young rooster recently that lived through an opossum attack, with a very deep wound on his back that’s still healing. They also team up with one another. And be aware that if you shoot someone’s pet, you might face civil suits as well. So first on our list of chicken predators are domestic dogs. Here's a predator solution that works well for free range chickens...This Northwest Farm Terrier puppy is being trained to protect the chickens. I went out to feed my free range flock today (2 roosters, 7 hens), but the Alpha Rooster was missing. I have friends that lose their flocks to bears, but we don’t have bears in our area. Raccoons will often pull a bird’s head through the wires of your coop enclosure and leave the rest of the body. You can access this podcasts show notes at, that’s podcast one three all one word. There’s specific recipes for homemade feed that can be tailored to your particular needs, and you’ll learn how to raise a happy, healthy flock of chickens. I have to simply better proof my coop from aerial chicken predators. Thrive Market is membership site, and their products are anywhere from 15% to 20% cheaper than I’ve found elsewhere. With this in mind, could a skunk kill large ducks and/or my Alpha Rooster? For example killing hawks and eagles is prohibited, so I can’t shoot a hawk that steals my chickens. If you keep chickens for their eggs, and want to learn about how to best feed them so lay the most nourishing eggs possible, then you’ll want to check out my new course, Common Chicken Predators and How to Identify Them: 'What The Cluck?!' Her website is and in the show notes, I’ll put a link to her blog as well as an article that goes deeper into track identification of chicken predators. Have you heard of this before? Raccoons will attempt to drag the chicken through the fence surrounding your coop. It was like an animal vampire. Anyone who has a wheat allergy and can’t eat store bought eggs will understand what I mean. You know a coyote is around because you’ll hear when they have prey, they start to wolf pack it as they fight over it. If you let your chickens free range, you can also give them places to hide like bushes, although this is not nearly as effective as a covered run. Discovering chickens killed by a mink or carried off by a fox is frustrating. First, I also lost two four-year old ducks this winter. He had left the poison out for coyotes and a bald eagle got it. A friend recently told me that if she feeds her chickens a wheat based diet, her son, who is wheat intolerant, will get sick. Thanks for listening to this episode of what the cluck about common chicken predators, and I’ll see you next time! My neighbor tells me that on the night of my favorite hen’s death last year, the dachshund chased my hen causing her to fly up into a tree. While Mad-Eye Moody’s barking of Constant vigilance at our young wizard-ing heroes (sorry, big fan of Harry Potter) could be construed as verging on major paranoia, the words of the grumpy Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher can be sage advice when dealing with the issue of predators and our chickens, constant vigilance. What is Medicated Chick Starter – Do My Chicks Actually Need It? These are common predators! If you have some experience with this type of attack please leave a comment or share this post with your friends to see if we can find a possible solution for Jodie. Is it possible they were raccoon? Chickens have very complex social interactions and a host of interesting behaviors. However, if they attack a chick or a full grown bird they usually leave feathers or wings behind because they can’t get these parts down their throats. Something killed the female first, left her in tact, and then came back the next night to eat her from stomach to spine (head left in tact). I set a trap in the duck pen after the drake was killed and caught a skunk. It sounds similar to a dog bark, but it’s still pretty unique. There are many common chicken predators that aren’t listed, and some of the advice or information offered is perplexing. Bullying, rats, parasites, predators, diseases… who’d be a chicken? I should point out though that I’ve had a flock of chickens as long as I’ve had the dog, so I would expect to have lost many more chickens with bites to the back over 10 years. So, my advice is to check with your state about their recommendations regarding relocating chicken predators. Also, I found you through the Beyond off Grid & I am wondering if the link still applies? You can grab it at READ NEXT: ORGANIC CHICKEN FEED RECIPE (THAT WON’T BREAK THE BANK). I’m not making this up, researchers have proven it in several studies. Your best bet if a hawk attacks your flock is to create a covered run instead of trying to capture it or kill it. Raccoon are nocturnal, and the tell-tale signs of a raccoon killing a chicken is similar to opossums, but there are a couple key differences. Finally, we do have a 10-year old dachshund who we let outside to relieve himself. In order to protect your poultry from future attacks, it's important to learn how to identify their enemy. Regarding the Beyond Off Grid summit, if you’re referring to my course, yes, the link still applies for the next couple days. Being able to defend your flock from chicken predators can make or break your success keeping chickens. I’ve walked into coops after a possum attack and there’s just pieces of chickens everywhere, it’s pretty disgusting. Keeping the area clean of trash and removing chicken feed at night is another way to deter these chicken predators. These large cats are not common chicken predators because they prefer much larger prey. By using this website, you agree that the information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure illnesses or diseases. I’ve heard they just eat the heads. Chicken Breed Chart to Help Choose Your Chicken Chicken Breed Picture Bird Size lb. These are meat birds that we’re pasture raising organically, so they’re not kept in a run consistently like our laying hens, but instead allowed to roam a 3 acre pasture and then cooped at night. Some books give so much space to lists of problems that you’d be forgiven for wondering why anyone bothers, but all that’s needed is experience and a little know-how. As you know, the chicken’s head is small and is most likely … and the one night you forget to lock up your chickens… he’ll vis… Opossums are marsupials that are found in the Eastern, central and west coast states of North America and some parts of Canada. It was large bite marks on the back of the necks. Now, for more information about animal tracks, my friend Janet at One Acre Farm is a wildlife tracking expert. So, it really is shopping for products you will use anyway in a way that benefits other people too. Raccoons will eat the head off of your chicken and let the rest of the bird lay for other predators to eat. 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