Gone . . .without a trace

maiaa(z8 OR)April 9, 2009

I have/had six hens that free range, when we are home, but not on days when we are going to be gone for very long. Yesterday, one of my hens just disappeared. I'm baffled by what may have become of her (although I have come to accept that I likely will never see her again.) I have narrowed her disappearance to a two hour window . . 2:50pm-4:50pm (it was an overcast day, and definitely light out). During this time I was home, as was my border collie who was in and out of the house several times during those hours, roaming and guarding the perimeter. My kids were also out in the yard playing most of that time.

We heard no noise, the other hens did not seem to be upset in the least and I cannot find so much as a single feather to indicate a struggle of any kind.

This was a large hen . . . a Buff Orpington, and a large one at that. I cannot imagine a coyote coming that close to my house in broad daylight and not getting the dog all riled up. Nor can I fathom a hawk being able to carry off a chicken of that size (although I suppose it might be possible).

I'm just curious if anyone has any idea of what could have happened to her given the circumstances and absolutely no sign of any kind of struggle. I'm baffled and will keep the rest of the girls penned up until I make sure it is safe. I'm also worried for other pets in the area that were smaller than this hen (our cat, the neighbors' dogs, etc.)

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Is it possible she's gone broody and is hiding on a nest? They can find the smallest little places to start a nest. If she turns up at feeding time tomorrow follow her. If she's in a safe place leave her for a week or so and then move her at night to a place you'll know she'll be able to hatch her babes..

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 10:11PM
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maiaa(z8 OR)

I looked everywhere today and could find no nest.

But I really didn't think that she had gone broody, as she had just come out of the coop where she had been laying, when I last saw her. She was separated from the flock by about 300 or 400 ft. at that point, but she was headed in their direction.

I'll definitely keep my eye out, but I conducted a pretty thorough search today and no broody hens in sight. :-(

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 10:37PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

I once lived in a house that had a chicken coop with a 7 foot chain link fence around it. The fence was covered with wild grapevine. Well, one day I came out to close up the hens at night and couldn't find one. I called and called, looked all over, no hen. Finally I had to close the others up, sadly deciding she'd met a bad fate. The next morning when I went to the coop I discovered her sitting in the vines on top of that fence. She was well hidden and safe, but I had to get a ladder to get her down. I'm sure once she got hungry enough she would have jumped, but it seemed kind of far.

Just a couple of weeks ago my black Australorp, Eartha Chick, went missing. You can read about that at my link.

If you have trees around your property, look up instead of down -- she may be roosting someplace above your head!

Good luck.


Here is a link that might be useful: Eartha Chick Goes Missing

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 8:03AM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

I hope you find her but it's not out of the realm of possibility for a coyote to come very close to your house and snatch a chicken. Also, a large overhead predator could easily snag a hen the size of a Buff.

Coyotes come up to the house and take dogs right off their porches around here!

Good luck, I really do hope you find her

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 10:24AM
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We lost one to a hawk last week. We had a hard time finding her as she was only partly there, mostly just feathers left on the ground and part of the body. She was hard to see.

I thought I had lost three this winter when they discovered an open door on the shed as it was getting dark and decided they wanted to roost in there instead of going home. They were hidden under some cardboard, roosting together on top of a box. If they had not chirped at us in response to a call, we would not have found them.

We once had one completely dissappear into a crack in the outside wall that we never thought they could fit into. She was stuck in there and needed out help to get out, but she went in anyway.

Don't give up hope until you find part of a body or pile of feathers.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 11:33AM
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I hope you find her. A couple of years agok, a coyote loped past the cyclone fence that separates our yard and the pasture. The fence is only about 50 feet from the house.

It was broad daylight and it didn't seem to bother it at all that I was in the yard watching it goe thru the pasture.

Here is a link that might be useful: MY BLOG

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 12:37PM
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It could have been a fox or coyote. I know a foxes can be very fast and deadly and leave no traces.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 4:32PM
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Hopefully she's hiding from you. I say that because it is kind of strange that the dog did not get all riled up.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 7:48PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

I really do hope you find her!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 9:32PM
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I hope you find her too. If it gives you some hope, when my young dog went chicken crazy last month and killed 8 of my girls, I could not find my two buffs anywhere. They weren't amoung the bodies nor with the survivors. I looked everywhere. The next morning they both were casually scratching around the coop like nothing happened. Buffs seem fairly resourceful to me. I call my two the "nosy sisters" because they remind me of two old spinster sisters who will talk your leg off and gossip, LOL. I sure hope you find her, let us know. Lori

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 11:24PM
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