Who is killing our chickens?

Asked March 14, 2013, 3:43 PM EDT

We have had a flock of hens for three years with little mishap, but in the past month we have lost two chickens, and both were killed in the same way. We found them outside of the electric-fenced coop area. The flesh on their heads and necks was removed, but the bones were still in place. There was an very minor amount of damage to their bodies. Our prime suspect is the great horned owl who moved into our pasture about two months ago, but both hens were killed during the day. Can you please advise whether this sounds like the owl's doing or if we might be overlooking another suspect? Any tips on how to protect our chickens from this predator? Many thanks!

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

It is probably the great horned owl—the method of kill and small amount of damage suggest the owl. The birds are not dark-night hunters; they sometimes hunt in the daylight, usually dawn or dusk. You can protect the chickens by keeping them inside or in a covered pen. The owl may leave when the food becomes unavailable, after a few weeks. You could contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They might trap and remove nuisance predators.