Does this sound like a coon?

gardengalrn(5KS)September 29, 2009

I lost one of my Buff Orpington hens in the night, I think it was the momma who hatched out chicks over the summer. While the chicks grew up and rejoined the flock, she never seemed to want to go back with the rest. When I'm home I look around the outside of the coop for her in case she hasn't gone in and put her there. I work nights and my son closes the coop when I'm not here, which I wasn't last night. I saw feathers around the coop, then a trail which led to the pasture. There I found her body but something had eaten her head/neck off. Didn't mangle the rest of her, though. Seems that a coyote or dog would have mangled her up or eaten most of her? I didn't see tracks or droppings. Too bad, we had a second security light installed just a few days ago and thought maybe it would help deter some nighttime critters. Thanks for the input, Lori

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lmieke(NW TN)

Could very well be. I've had chickens killed by coons, wild dogs, and even caught a possum in the chicken pen (he had killed 6 by the time we heard the raucus outside, then he couldn't get out of the pen) That was the last straw. I've closed the door on the coop every night since. Being inside the big pen wasn't keeping them safe. I've never lost any in the daylight.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 10:58AM
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I always close my coop door at dusk once they all go in but as I said, I am not sure my dear son is as religious about it as I am when I'm working. I've lost several more since then. I talked with him about it and I WILL say that he works too so some nights it is fairly late before he gets home to shut the coop door. I think once a predator knows there is a chicken dinner to be had, he will sniff around until he's stopped. Lori

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 10:31AM
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You are right. We are rich in critters here and in the mud or snow, I see coon tracks making a loop around my chicken coop and their fenced-in exercise yard. You can tell the chicken coop is on their regular scavaging route and they routinely check it, hoping I won't have the birds locked down.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 9:15PM
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My neighbors had chickens last year that disappeared one by one and they trapped a bobcat! This doesn't look like a cat, though, I see what my own felines do to a carcass and it isn't pretty, LOL. We also have coyotes who sing at night, sometimes pretty close and of course the ever-popular oppossum (sp?). Lori

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 9:10AM
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My guess is it was either a mink or a weasle. They usually just eat the heads and leave the rest. All the other critters, coys, dogs, cats, eat the breast at the very least. Coons and possums are more likely to eat the eggs but will also kill the chickens from time to time. If it's hawks or owls you'll find just a few feathers and nothing else. And rats will sometimes kill and eat bittys. You can try a have a heart trap with sardines or oily canned fish and see if you can trick the culprit into going for that instead of the birds. But they're pretty smart. I always hate to loose them to mink or weasles because they don't even make a meal out of it.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 1:22AM
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Hi Lori,
We've lost a few chickens too, to coons and foxes. The coons ate part of our hen, but mauled her mostly. When the fox got our turkey all we found was a trail of feathers down the hill, most likely bringing the bird to it's den of kits.
Ok, so we also closed the coop every night, the free range birds go in by dusk to roost, so that's when we close 'em up. But now we have some new birds so I started putting my dog outside the pen at night on a long lead and with him 'marking' and deficating around the pen we have not seen any predators around the pen lately, but with the cooler weather he had to be brought in. His scent is still there, but fading with the rains, we have a 'Scarecrow' brand motion sensative sprinkler left over from the deer issues and have set that up with great results, but they are kinda pricey. If you get an actual livestock guard dog you can write it off on your taxes I've heard. Hearing the trouble from the house is not very reliable, at least for us, it'd be great to have a latching doggy door that was on a timer and predator proof. It all comes down to building a fort knox coop and having birds with a good routine and a nice gun by the back door to dissuade the rogues who dare to invade your property. On some chat sites the nice chicken folks are even losing entire flocks to human predators who are too cheap to get their birds from the market. So kill the predators, get a big dog and maybe set an alarm to remind all in the house to shut the coop?
You can also get some great ideas by perhaps joining and looking into their message boards. The nice folks there are really experienced and can maybe offer a different set of ideas than on this forum. Either way, all the best and good luck! You're doing a great thing being self sufficient and eventually it will all work out.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 9:26PM
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Thanks for all the input. I found at least part of the problem which was a hole in the fence. I think one would get out and not be able to figure out how to get back in. By the time the coop was closed up, they would be hunkered down in the grass and easy pickins for the predator. We have fixed that problem and also discovered that several owls are hanging around. I watched one last night, sitting prettily in a tree near the house looking out towards the coop. The one I saw was not very big but there is another one that I didn't see. Lori

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 11:21PM
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OOPS! I forgot one of the best tools, a hav~a~heart trap, live trap, whatever. I have caught whole families of coons and foxes and have either relocated them FAR away, an hour or so or given them th the neighbors to eat or just eradicated on the spot, depending on the critters. Good way to take the stray cats to the animal control for spaying and medical attention too. You can buy them at the feed store and rent them from either your local county, shelter or trapper. I have called the trappers and the county and they will not come out, even with the Mountain Lion sighting at the school bus stop, they say to shoot the animal and NOT report it. So, the less we tell Big Brother the better and we're on our own.
Owls are an issue. Our new birds like to roost sometimes on the top of the 6' deer fencing enclosure, so I am debating enclosing and sectioning off top to bottom. Pain in the a**, but I guess if we want predators out and birds in that is going to have to be our solution.
Again good luck, patch the fence, load your trap and gun.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 4:05PM
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We have turkeys, guineas and chickens. I had foxes come in during the day when the chickens were out and kill 5 at one time. Only to carry off 1, the other four he ran around and half buried them for later, I guess. I've had a coon and possum problem before, but not anymore. Keep a gun handy or sit outside late at night and wait. That's what we had to do to get rid of them. Grown coons are too smart to go in traps, the younger ones will. Possums will go in a trap. Coons and possums only eat the crop and stomach of their kill. I think it's the coons that eat the stomach and possums eat the crop. And we have had an owl take off with a guinea and only eat the head, which I found later on the fence post in it's waste. Hope this helps and good luck.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 12:45AM
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Sounds like Coon to me. Also sounds precisely like the remains of the 3 birds I lost last week. The one night I pulled the dog in. Like yours, all three were headless, and the bodies somewhat tore up. Only the gizzards were discarded and untouched. Since the remains were under our own deck, we were able to elminate raptors, and predators that would snatch and go.

A day or so later, we got the coon that did it. He was back for a snack. The dog was out that night! She's a terrific dog - and RJ is a mighty good shot with just a flashlight.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 8:55PM
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would it help to put a light on a timer to extend the get em into lockdown time?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 6:06PM
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You have a skunk. I am a professional trapper, catching stock killers has been my buisness for years, your best bet is to call local DNR to get phone number to a local fur trapper , he'll thin out all varmits this winter, probably for free if you give him permission to trap your farm.
hope I helped

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 6:51PM
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