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oldun
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PostSubject: Two dead chickens   Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:46 pm

One of the sad facts of life here is the death of an animal due to predators of some kind. Two days ago we found a dead chicken in the garden run and today I have just found another one. This one was still warm so if I had been out a little earlier or my Hero hadn't been out on a walk, we would have seen whatever it was. We only have two left. One appeared from behind the chicken house and the other was inside laying an egg or maybe hiding. In 8 years of keeping chickens this has never happened. Its also unusual for it to happen in daylight (3.30pm.) There is no sign of any animal tracks around although a lot of snow has disappeared. Both hens had injuries. The first badly mutilated but this one only has some of its feathers pulled out and lying around and its back chewed. Maybe I disturbed whatever it was.
The locals have been talking about hearing and seeing a wolftype animal around but our chickens have a wire fence around them and I can't see how a dog or wolf could get in. If it was a large bird it would have carried it off unless the chicken was too heavy. Interestingly our dog, who hears everything and barks until we come, didn't bark but stayed in her kennel.
Not only sad but frustrating not knowing what happened. Any ideas? I love my chickens and couldn't believe it when I went out to give them their afternoon treat of cabbage, bread and any leftovers.
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Equinus
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:11 pm

Really sorry to read this Oldun. I completely understand how you must be feeling, I was extremely fond of my three hens and was really upset when I had to re-home them when we sold the house. I would never have thought I could get fond of a bird! So to find them mutilated and dead must be awful. I hope you solve the mystery soon, but there seem to be plenty of mustelids in BG, and anything stoat sized would probably get through your wire and easily kill a chicken.

Good luck in keeping your remaining two safe.

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ABC Property Surveyors.BG
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:08 pm

I think it is a pole cat.They can get through very small openings and unfortunately they will be back.Had the same problem a year or two ago.Will even kill Geese.One woman in the village lost 80 chickens in one night.
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oddball
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:27 pm

i don't know anything at all about chickens but could it be something that burrows under ground perhaps.

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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:35 pm

They can burrow,climb vertical walls and go in through the roof and get through chain link fencing.You'll need chicken wire to keep them out although I was told by a villager that they can chew through it.I ended up selling the remainder of my birds to a friend in another village as no matter what I did they still got in.I remember reading on another forum of a guy who put his cat in his loft to flush them out as they had moved in.Let's just say that the cat came off worse and required veterinary care.They won't come in of there is a dog there though.Villagers tend to have a little dog in with their animals for this reason.Good luck....
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:08 pm

I'd go with the polecat/ferret idea. They can inflict shocking injuries around the back, neck and head, but rarely take the carcase away. I've had a few encounters with them down here but not lost hens to them..foxes are another story altogether!!
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Scunnered
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:11 am

This happened to us last March, about 11am. I went to feed them, only to find all eight, plus our cockerel, dead. The worst thing was, they had all been decapitated. According to the villagers this was the work of a polecat/pine marten. There was also no sign of our five little month old chicks. Really sickening. You have our sympathy, Oldun.
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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:34 pm

T... Again everyone for your commiserations and help. This is a great forum. Having talked to villagers they too, now suspect a polecat. We have neighbours with animals and I guess in winter when food is scarce a polecat or two would gravitate to any property with chickens. Its consoling that villagers have suffered losses too and it must be even more devastating for them financially. A polecat could easily have run around a wall and waited for my chickens to peck near it. Both were found in the wall area where there are protective shrubs. It could obviously have jumped into the run if they are that nimble. No signs of burrowing or the fence being chewed. So that must be the answer. The dog's kennel is a bit far away to hear anything as it would have been a quick kill taking a chicken by surprise. Never mind - nothing we can do except keep a sharp ear out and keeping the remaining two indoors for a couple of days hoping the polecat will go elsewhere.
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Equinus
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:14 pm

The downside of living with wildlife. Just one of those things. But I will still try to protect my layers (when I get them) so time for some research into protecting from these lovely creatures.............

Hope you are feeling better about things today Oldun.

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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:42 pm

Is there any way you could get a chap intercom like they have for babies this way you will know when something is about. Perhaps you could pick one up at a bootsale or somewhere. only a thought mind s

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Equinus
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:53 pm

I've just done a bit of searching on the subject of martens and chickens. It seems it is the panicked flapping of confined hens which encourages them to kill everything, and those which are sitting or hiding will probably be spared, which would fit in with what you have experienced. It is said that those chooks free rangeing as would often be the case, would more likely be taken one at a time as unconfined poultry would be more inclined to move away than panic. To prevent them getting in to runs, it is recommended that double mesh is used, and/or electric poultry netting enclosing the whole run.

Seems they are determined once they have found a source of easy food. Sorry.

Mrs Eq

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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:37 pm

sorry to read about your chickens. We lost four ducks in similar circumstances a couple of weeks ago. The local hunters caught a fox close to the house so they think that was the cause. It probably didnt get away with them because the dogs disterbed it. my daughters keeping her chickens in the stables with the horses till the weather improves as nothing much dare go in with them. s

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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:49 pm

sorry to read about your chickens and i hope you are getting over the shock now. Definately agree with the pole cat they kill don't take food away and kill any thing in there path that is moving.
Wire mesh on the floor and as a roof on your run should help keep them out good luck
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:02 pm

I dare say you have seen a Bulgarian mouse trap. My friend made one as big as a dog kennel with 2 compartments in it. One housed a small chicken with wire mesh between it and the other compartment which was the trap. He caught whatever it was that was killing his chicks, and all I understood was that he shot it whilst it was in the trap. Might sound a bit cruel to use a live bird as bait but it worked.

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oldun
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PostSubject: Re: Two dead chickens   Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:00 pm

Thanks for everyone's interest. Happy to say that there has been no more deaths and my remaining chickens still laying eggs.. Maybe a neighbour managed to get rid of the pole cat. Several folk had reported similar deaths. We will be replenishing our stock in the Spring.
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