A Summer of Chicken Predators

Our chicken coop is no stranger to predators. We’re always on the lookout and it’s been a while since anything bad occurred. According to Murphy’s Law, we started having problems with a raccoon a few days before leaving on vacation. But, while we were gone, our chicken sitters humanely dispatched that problem and no chickens were harmed.

Then we came home one day to find a pile of feathers on our hillside and a chicken dead in our swimming pool. This was disturbing because we’ve had our pool for three years with no incident. For our chicken to get into the pool, she would have to work hard to fly in there.

A few nights after this, I went to close the coop and do my usual headcount. We were missing one! I searched all over but it got so dark that I had to give up and hope she decided to roost out for the night. In the morning, I found a pile of feathers right next to our fence. I knew she wouldn’t be coming home; but had to wonder, what had gotten our hen.

The next day it was hot, so in the afternoon my kids and I checked on the chickens. We noticed our rooster, Roopert and his favorite hen had gotten out of the fence and were under our screened-in porch. This happens a lot since Roopert has a mind of his own.

We were back inside no more than five minutes and we heard a horrible squawking from Roopert. We rushed outside and there he was; where we’d left him, minus his favorite hen.
As we secured the chickens and did a headcount, I noticed a pile of feathers just down from where Roopert had been standing.

Since this last kill was under our porch and the pile of feathers was the same, I quickly ruled out an avian predator. After a little research, I found out we had a fox preying on our chickens. They are stealthy animals and ours had probably been stalking our chickens for weeks. They often leave little evidence other than a pile of feathers.

Once we had the big picture, it was easy to see what had happened at our pool; a hen escaped an attack only to land wrongly in the water. But, why was this happening now. What was different? We had recently had some yard work done and our front gate was down. None of these attacks took place in our yard proper and our chickens often roam freely outside the fences. I think the deciding factor was that our fox was emboldened since our dog wasn’t in the yard as much because her fence was gone. So we quickly replaced our gate, our dog returned to her watch post and there were no more attacks.

After the recent disappearance of Broody Brood, we’re now down to 17 chickens, thanks to our summer, and fall, of predators.  I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for a strong finish to the fall season!
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