Animal Biting Hens Feet From Under Coop?
We have a chicken coop that is more like an elevated cage. The bottom is about 1 foot off of the ground and has 1/2 inch wire mesh on it.
A few months ago we lost one hen when her feet began swelling up from what appeared to be cuts on it. A friend very experienced with chickens said that the hen probably cut her foot on something and then it became infected. He said to check the wire cage for any loose wires or sharp edges that might have cut her foot. We looked and could find nothing.
A month or so later, the exact same thing happened to the other hen and we lost her.
There is NOTHING SHARP in the coop....the floor is wire but it is coated wire and the spacing is 1/2...so I am very confused.
We got another hen and rooster and this morning when I went to the coop..the hen was dead. Its foot was MISSING...like something grabbed it from the bottom and chewed it off...and the poor thing bled to death.
Now, I am thinking that the same thing must have been happening all along. Some predator is going underneath the cage and trying to stick their little paws through and scratching at the chickens feet. Sounds bizarre, right?
What else could it be. I am in the process of building a coop with a solid floor but that will take me 2-3 weeks to finish.
The remaining rooster that we have is acting strange. He is "perched" on top of the water dish instead of on the floor of the cage....as if he is AFRAID to be on the floor.
Any thoughts on what is killing our chickens? A skunk, racoon, weasel, opossum, rat, mice? What predators have claws small enough to reach up through the bottom of a wire cage and slice up chicken's feet?
We are new to raising chickens and this experience has me and my family devastated.