I recently got 2 new barn kitties...really good barn kitties...they de-vermined the barn and garage in short order. (And now I have to feed them!) Anyway, I have a winter coop for my chickens in the barn. The cats can't get into the coop and I knew there was something hiding in there. Whatever it is, was stealing eggs, and probably some grain, but was not causing much trouble. I also think it leaves the barn as it has drilled an exit hole through the door frame to the outside...(through the snow too!)
This morning chicken feathers in the coop EVERYWHERE! All of the chickens were alive and well, but two were missing feathers from around their necks. There was also quite a few burrow holes into the dirt inside the coop. I gave the chickens free run of the barn so they can roost up higher (It is likely that whatever is in there grabbed the ones sleeping in the next boxes.) I haven't gotten any eggs all week but I thought it was because most of my chickens are old and it has been very cold so I have been giving them lots of warm milk (which seems to lower their production.) I'm now thinking something has been eating about 6 eggs/day!
I think it is bigger than a rat and might be a weasel or something else my cats can't take care of. I am going to close up the coop and bait a live trap with cat food.
Post by christybell on Feb 14, 2015 12:29:19 GMT -5
You might have a skunk or opossum, they eat eggs but mostly leave the birds alone. Do you think it's possible that you had an egg eater make the entrance and then a more aggressive predator found it? Our biggest chicken killers are raccoons and bobcats.
2 little Lowline cross heifers, a handful of Alpine dairy goats, chickens, some beloved dogs, a stubby tailed cat, a few people kids, and a hubby that makes it all possible!
We have Bobcats here but they are rare, and there is no opening big enough in the barn. The hole the animal drilled is about 3 inches in diameter.
There is an opening that I need to fix that the cats can get in and out of, so it would be big enough for a raccoon, skunk, or opossum, all of which we have here. But it would have to brave my donkey that stands outside that door all night long.
The burrowing in the floor of the coop is what makes me think weasel too. If that is the case, my raccoon-sized live trap won't hold it...the holes are big enough for it to escape once it is tripped.
I am so happy I left my 30 3-week old Buff Orpington's in my office. I was going to put them out there in a stock tank with two heat lamps, but was worried it was still too cold. I think they would have been a snack.
I'm thinking if I close the coop up and the chickens aren't in the coop moving around, I could use a trail cam to figure it out?
I'm voting skunk. Raccoons are fast and great climbers, if they got in I believe your chickens would of been dead. Same with a weasel, they are fast and effective. I had a skunk that lived in my hay shed for a couple of years. He became rather tame, but kept the mouse population down. The trade off, was a slightly skunky smell and he would leave droppings. We currently have raccoons and had to bury chicken wire all around the chicken coop after a couple of wholesale slaughter of my chickens. Your donkey may not want to mess with a skunk but would probably have no problem chasing off an opossum. I'm thinking a skunk and maybe an opossum would be the only predators that would be a more laid back about killing. Bobcats, weasels and raccoons would kill just because their instincts to do so are very strong.
What predators are native to you? We've raised chickens for years, and most everything you're describing would be a weasel, or a woodchuck. Egg eaters are usually rats or snakes. I would contact your local DNR or US fish and wildlife office - they'll be able to tell you immediately what you're dealing with, and the best methods to eliminate it.
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