killing chickens Whether you keep chickens as a source of daily eggs, or you raise chickens for meat, keeping your chickens safe and healthy is an important part of the process. A lot of steps go into keeping a flock secure, which we’ve covered in our Five Ways to Protect Your Flock article. 

If you live in a rural area there are many different predators that may be present, but sometimes it can be hard to know exactly which one has gotten a hold of your chickens. If you don’t catch the predator in the act it can be difficult to know which animal it was, which makes it hard to protect against in the future. Below are some ways you can determine what’s killing your chickens.

How Does the Carcass Look?

Dead chickens can get a little gruesome, but better to deal with something unpleasant once and then be able to hopefully keep it from happening again. Certain body parts missing can mean certain things, so pay attention to that. Some predators, like coyotes, will not leave a body behind at all. If you start to notice your chickens going missing, it may be time to upgrade your security. 

Injuries to the vent area usually denote a weasel attack. Weasels are notorious for wiping out entire flocks in one night, so if you think you may have a weasel problem you have to act quickly. Other predators to watch out for include: skunks and opossums, which usually wound chickens while stealing eggs. 

Lists that claim to be able to identify exactly which predator attacked your chicken just based off of the injuries alone can be misleading. Not all predators attack the same way every time (such as cats), so putting all of your trust in lists like these may not be the best way to approach the situation. 

What Protective Measures Do You Already Have?

Ruling out which predators cannot get to your chickens is a good way to start figuring out which ones can. For example, if your coop and run are both covered, it is unlikely that a hawk or an owl are terrorizing your chickens. Buried chicken wire or other underground barriers can stop diggers such as coyotes. 

Make a list of every security measure you have in place and from there figure out what is lacking. Also take note of any neighborhood dogs (or even your own dogs) who might be able to get access to your chickens. Dogs like to chase and harass birds, and sometimes they go so far as to bite or shake the chickens to death. 

When and Where Did the Attack Happen?

It’s virtually impossible to monitor your chickens constantly throughout the day, but checking up on them throughout the day can give you a time frame for when the predator attacked. Also check to see where the attack happened. If the carcass is left near the fence then you may be dealing with a raccoon sticking its hands inside the chicken wire. 

Double-check around where you found the carcass to see if you can spot any tracks. Predators like hawks and owls won’t leave any tracks, and neither will snakes. Mammals, however, may leave behind something you can identify. 

Nocturnal predators are some of the easiest to protect against, especially if you have a safety feature like an automatic coop door opener. These openers will let your chickens out of the coop when the sun comes up, and then automatically close and lock the chickens inside at sunset. You won’t have to worry about remembering to lock the coop up, and this will give you peace of mind when it comes to nocturnal predators. 

Contact us today or visit our website to learn more about our automatic coop door openers!