The Farm Report: Chicken-Killer Still On The Loose

One chicken-killer down (the raccoon we trapped last week), but still one to go. After Rocky Raccoon V was sent to raccoon heaven, we lost three more chickens, but all were eaten from the middle. Raccoons typically tear the head off and eat some breast meat, then leave the rest.

Last week we closed the window we accidentally left open – the 4 x 5 inch openings in a gate – so whatever is getting in there now, it’s a small critter. Based on comments from readers and some online research, the best guess is a weasel. I wondered why a weasel would need to eat so many chickens, but then read online that weasels can’t store much body fat and therefore need to eat nearly half their body weight per day. Yup, that would make a critter hungry for a constant supply of chicken dinners.

The most obvious entry point for a small predator was the gap around the door Chareva uses to enter the chicken yard. So on Friday, we closed those gaps with some additional wire. I was of course hoping that did the trick.

Nope.

Last night one of our Rottweilers jumped the fence (she does that now and then) and ran off barking in the direction of the chicken yards. When she announced her presence at the front door of the house later, she smelled a bit like skunk. Being an incurable optimist, I figured perhaps our predator was a skunk and it had wandered into my newer, bigger trap. Perhaps the dog got too close to the trapped skunk and was hit by a bit of spray.

Wrong again. The dog probably was reacting to a chicken-killer, but there was nothing in the trap this morning, and Chareva found another dead chicken in the coop. When I read online that weasels 1) are small and 2) can release stink bombs that smell like skunk, I became more convinced it’s a weasel that’s still killing our chickens.

So we spent a good part of today turning the chicken yard into a poultry version of Fort Knox. The fencing on the uphill side of the chicken yard came from a big dog pen the previous owner left behind. The gaps are 2 x 4 inches – again, enough to keep out raccoons, but perhaps big enough to let in a weasel. So we had to cover that entire fence with chicken wire. We also went around and attached chicken wire everywhere there was a gap more of more than two inches.

Man, I hope this works. Just a few weeks ago, there were 24 chickens in that flock – and that’s after the older flock disappeared, mind you. Now it’s down to 14. I put my trail camera inside the coop, but I hope all it captures is chickens sleeping peacefully.

If not, I may be sitting in my car out by the coop at night with a .22 rifle on my lap.

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28 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Chicken-Killer Still On The Loose

  1. Pam Forrester

    This is off the topic of this post but my daughter who just went Primal called me today after watching What the Health. It seems to be a PETA inspired movie but I couldn’t find out who sponsored it. Would love your review or point us to a credible review.

    Reply
      1. Firebird7478

        The only parts of that movie that are unbiased are the opening and closing credits.

        Here is one doctor’s review:

        Reply
          1. Firebird7478

            A vegan put up a rebuttal on You Tube, titled, “Ignorant Doctor Debunks ‘What the Health'”.

            More vegan intellect…calls the doctor ignorant then admits the doctor debunked the film all in the span of three words.”

            Reply
  2. Craig Jones

    Just got fat head kids from the library here on the Gold Coast (In Australia), must say that the space ship analogy is really great! Love Spot (Spock)!

    Reply
  3. chris c

    Otters are otterly delightful. Stoats are stoatally different. Weasels are weaselly distinguished. HTH.

    PETA liberated a load of mink in the UK and they slaughtered a whole load of endemic wildlife. None too clever. It has taken decades to cull them and see some of the once common old things return.

    Weasels can get through a ridiculously small gap, not so sure how they would make it back out again when full of chicken though. Hope you catch the varmint whatever it is.

    Now to see if I am blocked here, the reply to your previous post never got through.

    Reply
      1. Walter Bushell

        Reminds me of the problems Lierre Keith[1] ran into when she tried to raise food or buy food without killing. Our host here has written many articles here also about the difficulty of creating concentrated food sources (which any farm is) without calling in a host of critters who want to eat.

        [1] _The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability_

        Reply
  4. Bonnie

    After dispatching 3 skunks & cat food was still disappearing (chicken house is skunk & raccoon proof), I finally bought a cheap trail camera & pointed it at the porch. Two nights of just our cats, last night 2 skunks showed up about 4 am. 🙁

    We’ve gone years without seeing any skunks – I think we had 2 or 3 in the past 15 years – now 5 in just over a month!

    Reply
  5. Pat

    I’ve seen a weasel climbing a wire fence. If tomorrow’s post doesn’t have good news, you may want to consider electric fencing.

    Oh, and there is the other PETA – People Eating Tasty Animals.

    Reply
  6. Sam

    We’ve had experiences with Minks/Weasels in our yard as well. If that is your culprit you’ll find that they can wiggle through the holes in chicken wire or tear through it as well. We lost 20 chickens in one night due to that exact issue. We had to upgrade to hardware cloth(much smaller holes and MUCH stronger wire)

    Reply

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