What is killing my chickens?

Asked August 15, 2017, 6:18 PM EDT

I have had chickens for six years and have not lost one until 3 weeks ago. They are pastured in a 2 1/2 acre field with a chicken wired fencing. A flood took out A portion of fence and 3 days later we came home to find 6 dead birds (& 7 more missing), two inside the coop (one missing its head), one dead 20 or so yards away from the coop and three other dead ones in 3 separate spots quite a distance away from each other and the coop. The other dead ones did not appear to have a mark on them. So I put up some portable poultry fencing around the coop and my 7 remaining chickens. A week later I came home to find 1 dead one and missing another one. The dead one did not appear injured. And just Friday I came home to find two dead ones again with barely a mark on them and missing two others. My one lone remaining chicken was walking around in my front yard! All of these "killings" took place in broad daylight. I set out a live trap on Sunday morning and today I came home to find a skunk inside. Do you think that is my culprit?

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1 Response

Given that this has taken place during the day, my first thought goes to canine predators, but you may have several things at work here. Dogs and foxes will kill during the day, taking some, but leaving intact the ones they have killed for sport. When the head is gone that is often the mark of a raccoon attack, so I'm wondering if you didn't have both come by that day when your run was without a fence. I would suggest a electrified poultry net fence as a deterrent.

Skunks will eat eggs, but generally will not attack chickens. That may have just been an added "bonus" unrelated to your chicken situation.

Check out this article and this webinar for more info.
http://articles.extension.org/pages/71204/predator-management-for-small-and-backyard-poultry-flocks
https://learn.extension.org/events/975#.U6DKnXbijfg

Hope this helps,

Andy