Need help with bizarre chicken death
One of our chickens was killed today and we are stumped. We are also new at this!
First, before today we had 7 free range chickens. No signs of predators as of yet. They pretty much ranged all day long till dusk when they would retire to the coop. We own 6.5 acres, but maybe an acre that is cleared with our house on it. We have dogs and I think their scent has helped keep predators at bay. It was physically impossible for the dogs to have been the problem today. THe chickens mainly ranged on the edge of the woods surrounding the house, sometimes on the lawn. They rarely went 30 feet deep into the woods.
Our chicken was killed in the middle of the day. WE were gone from 11:45 to 4:30-ish. Whatever got it attacked it first under an apple tree at the lawn edge, spreading feathers. The chicken's body was found roughly 20 feet into the woods at the base of a tree. The thing that confuses us is how it was killed. Its neck had been completely eaten to the bone of meat. There was a small hole near the neck on the back of the chicken where some meat was possibly eaten out. But, the rest of the chicken was totally intact. All that nice good meat on the breast and legs was completely untouched.
What would eat just the scrawny neck of a chicken and leave all the good parts behind? What would do this, but then not drag the chicken away to finish eating later? What would attack just one chicken out of a flock of seven running uncaged and vulnerable? In addition, the other chickens didn't seem disturbed after we got home. I know that when they feel danger in the past they have found a hiding place and hunkered down in quietness.
Our chickens have been chest butting each other for about a week. We'll see them fly together and careen into each other chest-first. WE are now wondering if our chicken was killed by the other chickens. We just can't figure out what wild animal would kill a chicken and then not bother eating any of the meet.
Any help is greatly appreciated!