Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When You Have to Change Plans

 Well you know the new chicken coop Mike spent quite some time building.  The one attached to our little barn that we would be able to stand up in; the one the chickens would have lots of space in....
Well, a chicken predator has made its appearance.
The first morning Mike found a dead chicken with its neck bitten and quite a bit of blood around, but just one dead and the chicken was still in the coop.  He filled in gaps around the coop that day.  We figured that it might be something fairly good size since generally a weasel, which is quite small, usually goes on a killing spree and we had only one dead.

The next morning, the scenario repeated itself.  The new coop is quite large and now our thinking was that perhaps the killer is a weasel - an unusual weasel, perhaps, one that just has enough energy for one kill per night.
Knowing that weasels can fit through a very small opening, it seemed much too daunting a task to fill every hole over 1 1/2" in diameter.
So, we moved the chickens back to their old coop. We considered that one to be quite tight as we had never had a predator problem. 

Well, the next morning Mike the scenario repeated itself again, this time in the small old coop.
Well, we spent Saturday afternoon filling every crack and hole in that old coop.  We did find a couple of small spaces a weasel might be able to squeeze through.  
Sunday morning we were happy to report that all of the chickens made it through the night.
Mike was a bit disappointed at first about not being able to use the new coop he had built, but I already have new plans for it.
(Has anyone else had a similar chicken predator problem?  We still are not 100% sure what kind of animal it was.)

Warm wishes,


  1. Oh dear, a real mystery, just in time for Halloween! Reminds me of that book, Bunnicula, though the bunny was draining veggies of their juice, not chickens. I'm sorry for all your issues with the predator, and I am learning so much from everyone's experiences this year. Our coop will begin construction this week (finger's crossed). I hope to hear if anyone has any ideas.
    xo Jules
    P.S. We don't have a single photo of us dressed up, unfortunately. We were late and when we got to the gala, the newspaper took one photo, so I'll be watching for that! <3

  2. raccoons are very tricky, very smart and very persistant. They have been known to work latches and simple locks at our coop. Fox are always a problem around here and even a stray coyote. Our wooden coop is inside a 10 by 10 dog kennel, basically a chainlink fenced square and then the lower half of that and the "roof" is covered in chicken wire. Not exactly attractive, but mostly it works. some people submerge wire or concrete around the base of the coop so predators can't burrow in from below. Its an ongoing battle for sure. Good luck.

  3. I've had racoons and opossums get in my hen house. The hen yard has a 5 foot fence around it, and the racoons would just climb it, and the opossums would push the door open and walk up the ramp into the house. The way yours was killed sounds like a opossum to me, but you never know. We set traps for the racoons and I've found the opossums in the hen house in the morning playing dead when I arrived. Our coon dog and a 410 took care of the opossums. :-) Hope you get whatever it is because once they find the hens, they'll keep coming back.

  4. We did. What I ended up doing was building 2 x4 frames, 3' x3' and covering them with hardware cloth and putting it on the floor -- wall to wall. Then, I put a layer of pine shavings on the floor. I allowed the frames around the outer edges of the floor to overlap the footer of the building and then stapled that wire that edge. Make sense? So far, no more bad guys in the coop...

  5. How tragic!
    In the past I have had raccoons wipe my whole flock out and now that we keep the chickens penned I have spotted coyotes coming into the field. We have an outside dog that has helped keep these guys away. I do hope you don't have anymore trouble.

  6. Oh no! That is too bad you can't use your new coop, but much worse that you lost that many chickens! My mom-in-love has chickens, but I think the worst around here that could get to them is hawks. No idea what could be getting yours!

  7. So sorry about your chickens. We are new to having chickens and I dread the day this happens to us. Sounds like you have it figured out, good luck!

  8. Tonya,
    I have had a similar problem with weasels. He would only kill one, maybe two, a night but kept coming back everynight. We put the chickens on a roost that was hanging from the ceiling by wire. That way it couldn't get them at night. Unfortunately it got so bloodthirsty that it started coming during the day even when we were there, but we got it!

    Recently we had a problem with a weasel too and I put a live trap out with some uncooked bacon (i'm sure any bloody meat would do) and trapped it within a day. I also have barn cats that will hunt and kill them as well.

    Hope this helps. Right now we just moved our chickens to a cement floor coop with cement blocks built up about 3-4 blocks high. This also helps but if they want in generally it's going to get in!

  9. Just ran across your blog its very sweet, love it :)

  10. Have you ruled out an inside job - a rogue chicken in the flock? I never would have thought of it if my husband hadn't been watching a show about Alaskan hometeaders who were dealing with it.

  11. Sorry you lost some chickens. We build our coop on a base made of 4x4s, filled with gravel and covered with wire fencing (small opening). We had a run made with the same wire, 6 feet high with a lattace top. The door to the coop latched, as well as the door to the run and the chicken door. Never had any problems with preditors. We did however, come home from a trip to find a chicken pecked to death :( who seemed perfectly healthy when we left that morning.