Chicken Predator Question

Asked February 10, 2020, 2:29 PM EST

Hello, We recently had a loss of about 10 chickens and a duck in one night and trying to determine what kind of predator we are dealing with. Hoping you can help. Here's the situtation: On my way to the barn the other morning I saw a pile of feathers on the path, opened the door (which was not 100% closed because of snow and ice. Open a few inches, maybe 6 at the most.) Upon entering the the barn, see another pile of feathers. Noticed many missing chickens, rooster and a duck. Inside the chicken room in the barn (which has a small chicken door which was open) more feathers. So far no sign of body parts, not a lot of blood. Only a bit of blood on some of the feathers. All the other birds were nervous / traumatized which I guess makes sense. No sign of any struggle or injury on the ones that survived. Looking around outside, several piles of feathers within the barnyard (20-40 feet from the barn), assuming each pile was one bird. Again, no body parts, no blood aside from a bit on some of the feathers. We had fresh snow so there seemed to be one set of tracks going to each pile. Around each pile the snow was a bit packed down but again, no extra blood or body parts. There was only one spot where it looked like footprints of a duck. So a predator big enough that the bird was not dragged in the snow. Nothing else in the tracks, no blood or feathers. I estimate about 10 birds in all, seemed to be a lone predator based on the tracks. I read through the information on the site but the patterns described are different than our experience so would appreciate any ideas. Thank you Dale Horeczy Frankville, Ontario Canada

Outside United States

1 Response

Interesting! I would be surprised if one animal would go back and forth multiple times like this. I would suspect a group of animals, and as you mentioned, they must have been big enough to carry the birds. My first thought would be a group of dogs, or coyotes, or something like that. Maybe large cats, if you have them around.

I'm not sure what else you have in your area for large predators. I suppose there could be some other mammals - fishers, etc., that might be able to carry a chicken. I would suspect they would drag the carcasses, but I am not real familiar with them.

Smaller predators, such as raccoons, would likely leave remains of the carcasses in the area.

A trail cam in the area would be interesting! Or, you might be able to see tracks in the snow. I would guess they will be back, since they know there is a readily available food source there!

Sorry I'm not more help!