All Chickens and ducks have vanished without a trace....

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pookey

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I have been reading posts on fox attacks and it seems they leave carcasses behind which has left me very confused.  I had 3 ducks and 7 chickens (I never closed the pophole as Ive never had an attack in 3 years) but when I went to check on them yesterday morning, I only had 2 chickens left.  There were a few patches of feathers from 1 chicken leading through the farm next door but no trace of any of the others.  I tried to lock up the 2 chickens that survived last night but they didnt return to the coup and I couldnt find them.  This morning only 1 shown up.  I have locked her away now.

Could 8 birds be taken in 1 night with hardly a trace or will they likely be in hiding somewhere.  I have searched and searched, theres total silence and no trace.  I am in open country side and feel just gutted.  

I have noticed some rat holes under the coup - Im assuming theyre rats as I saw one by the coup in a pile of bricks and my cat was slinging a rat corpse around the garden like a ball of string - hes deaf and blind so was quite happy with his find.  Ive put some poison under the coup and keep blocking the holes but theyre digging new ones every night.

Any advice on how I can find out what took my girls and how I can get rid of it.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 21:23 by Ice »
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CluckyChicken

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2010, 17:42 »
Sounds like a fox, but could be rats.  Have you checked under hedges?
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jinty1911

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 18:04 »
Oh no!!! That's dreadfull! You must be gutted.  So sorry this has happened.   :(
Jinty

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joyfull

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 18:21 »
I would guess rats  :(
Staffies are softer than you think.

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pookey

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 18:40 »
Rats can kill chickens????

I only mentioned them in case the tunnels belonged to ferrets or something.  What would they have done to them and where are the bodies?  The tunnels under the coup are only 3 inches diameter max.

I have loads of old outbuildings, a 2 acre over grown hedged field, and then there's all the farmers fields, hedges, buildings and lanes.  I have had a good luck everywhere around the vicinity of the coup and a general look everywhere else.  Normally when I shout 'giiiiiirls' there's an entourage of poultry running across the yard, Iv'e shouted everywhere and not even a russtle.

Surely rats couldnt drag a flapping chicken 200 meters or more through a farm gate and up a lane?

My chickens were mostly adult large pure breads - sussex, wellsummer a leghorn and a buff, I also had a couple of pekings, and full grown runner ducks.  Such lovely chickens and wonderfull characters - boots my booted peking bantam cockerel was such a joy and got hen pecked by all the other girls.  :(

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Mrs Mant

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 18:42 »
Sorry to hear this.....I know how you feel  :(

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8doubles

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 18:48 »
My guess would be fox, rats might kill one or two but not that many in one night. If the rats have access to chook food they would not risk attacks on large birds.

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chickychick2409

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 20:11 »
Sorry to hear that :(

A dog killed two of my chickens... Maybe it was that, is there any dogs living near you?
 
The patches of feathers could just be them molting.

Hope this helped.
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NormandyMary

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2010, 20:22 »
I really feel for you and understand, as do many others, the pain that you must be feeling.
Take care,

Mary.

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Aunt Sally

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 20:27 »
Given the time a fox will keep returning return to collect the bodies and take them away to bury for later.  They can only carry one at a time.
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pookey

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2010, 20:51 »
Thanks for everyones suggestions and sympathy, unfortunately the blame has to be mine for being complacent with the pophole door.  Here are my replys to the suggestions,

I have had a few dog attacks (pet and hunting) and there is carnage after, they dont take the bodys, they just leave a horrific mess so I dont think its dogs, I also have 2 dogs of my own and think they would have made noise - dogs are brash and not quiet and cunning, I'm doubting dogs but not certain as a hungry animal can be quite clever.

As for the feather patches, they were not just everywhere like with a moult, they were concentrated piles every 20 feet or so going through the farm next door, my girls NEVER go that way, and it looks like something kept stopping to pluck it or stop it wriggling.

Theres no way rats could have dragged the bodys so far away over obstacles, they wouldnt fit under the coup, so they cant be culprits unless they killed them and something else took the boddies.

Im confused that theres only 1 or 2 birds feathers, the rest of the missing girls are untraceable.   Please keep any suggestions coming

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orchardlady

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vannished without a trace....
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2010, 21:20 »
I would say that almost certainly this was a fox. He will leave bodies but return the next day to collect them. I found this to my cost some years ago when the night my father in law died at home I was so distracted I forgot to close the hens up. The fox checks and re checks and that night his luck was in. I picked up the bodies the next morning but was so busy that day I didn't have time to dispose of the bodies. The fox returned that night and took all the bodies. Your predator probably took all of your poultry over the course of the night. Now he knows where you are and that you leave the pop hole open he will check back almost every night until his luck is in again.
I compare the Fox to the IRA...they only need to be lucky once. If you restock make sure you close that pop hole every single night.

I would say that it's impossible for a rat to drag a Welsummer hen, they are big girls. Have you thought of a weasel? They are true killers to. They can pull down prey that is the equivalent of a lion pulling down a fully grown bull elephant.

You have been extremely lucky not to have had a fox attack in the three years you've had your birds. Very sad but I think you were possibly tempting fate. You have had a harsh lesson.

                                                                     :(

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pookey

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vanished without a trace....
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2010, 21:39 »
I am guarding my last girl like the crown jewels, my dogs keep going and checking the coup every hour when I let them out.

I am going to order an automatic door shutter, at 100 its a steep lesson, but there would be days when were back after dark if we have to head into town.  my girls cost around 15 each, so as well as precious pets, theyre valuable too so its worth paying

the weasel is interesting, as one 'rat hole' seemed alot bigger than the others, but would a weasel and a rat live in very close proximity?  the other issue with a weasel is where are the bodies?  I might try and move the coup tomorrow and disturb the nest, it weighs a ton will have to get a crow bar and roller bars and roll it forward.

Are there any traps I could make to bait and catch the culprit (not sure what Id do with it, I couldnt kill whatever it was, I feel horrid putting poison down for the rats but no luck with humane traps.

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Tigerwren

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vanished without a trace....
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2010, 22:11 »
I am so sorry to hear of your losses.  I am not sure what your set up is, but is it possible that it could have been a badger?  a neighbour of ours lost her whole flock to a badger in one night, though I am not sure if they leave a lot of mess.  Good luck for the future. :(

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orchardlady

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Re: All Chickens and ducks have vanished without a trace....
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2010, 09:45 »
While we were all thinking about your terrible experience none of us thought to ask how your remaining chicken is doing. She will probably be very traumatised by being involved first hand with the whole hunt, attack and killing of her flock. Watch her carefully and make sure she gets plenty to eat and drink, although she may be too withdrawn and down to eat much. Offer some porridge that always seems a favourite. It may take up to a week for her to start to gain her confidence again.



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