Not fox but what is taking my hens

An area for discussion of problems with pests and predators. WARNING: People are discussing problems with predators, that includes things such as fox and bird of prey attack. Such posts may not be nice viewing, but are acceptable.

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Dogwednesday

Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by Dogwednesday » 26 Jul 2012, 14:17

Hi,
Help would be appreciated. I have lost my chickens to a mammal. I blocked off the hole with breeze blocks but it was back last night and dug a hole under the breeze blocks. The hole is the size of a rabbit hole.
Mink?

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NannyP
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Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by NannyP » 26 Jul 2012, 22:15

A fox can get through a hole that big.

Other idea could be a pine marten or stone marten.

How do you know it's a mammal?

Henwife
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Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by Henwife » 27 Jul 2012, 06:54

Have you considered a badger? I am always stunned by the tiny hole fairly large predators can get through. How do you know it's not a fox?
Guinea fowl & a lot of surplus poultry equipment.

Dogwednesday

Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by Dogwednesday » 27 Jul 2012, 11:33

Hi,
Thanks for the replies. Mammal because the hens were in a covered area and if it's a reptile I'm moving house!
It's definitely only rabbit sized. Definitely too small for a badger. Could be a fox cub but my instinct says no because of the persistence to dig away under 3 breeze blocks. As far as I know we have no Pine martens this far south ( in Scotland).

I was on holiday near Ullapool and we had pine martens that came into an open window in the lodge and had jam sandwiches for tea at about 4 every day. I can't associate those animals with the decapitation of my hens!

I put out a live trap with 'pedigree chum' last night along with 2 rat traps but caught nothing(and frankly if it were a rat it would be a monster size!)

I also tried putting my geese in the henhouse over night to scare it but that didn't work either.

Off to Florence tomorrow for a week. My sister is house sitting so I hope she manages ok!

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Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by drfish » 27 Jul 2012, 12:59

A rabbit sized hole could indicate a stoat, weasel, ferret etc. I'm assuming by 'rabbit size' you mean 6-10" or so across.
Giving power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenage boy - P. J. O'Rourke (thanks Jessie)

It's amazing that people can believe everything is predestined but they still look both ways when crossing the road - Stephen Hawking

1 Wife, 3 children, 1 Staffie Bitch (RIP Marley), 1 Chi-Chi, 1 Tuxedo Cat, 1 part Maine Coon cat, male bearded dragon, Horsefield Tortoise, 2 White Silkies, 1 Frizzle Pekin, 1 CLB, 1 Appenzeller Spitzhauben Cockerel, 1 blue laced Wyandotte, 3 Appenzeller x Wynadotte pullets, 1 Call drake, 3 khaki Campbell ducks, 4 (2 male 2 female?) Aylesbury x Campbells, a breeding colony of Dubia cockroaches.

And a lot of Ibuprofen.

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Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by NannyP » 27 Jul 2012, 16:01

Decapitation leads me to believe it is definitely ferret, stoat, marten type animal. Mine were decapitated and Mojo says that Feuine (French martens) do this. They don't have enough appetite to take the whole hen.
:(

millipup

Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by millipup » 27 Jul 2012, 18:24

There are "pockets " of Scotland that still have a population of truly native polecats .As I live in what seems to be the only other area where they are flourishing ,west Wales ,I do have a fair bit of experience with them .........they dont often take bait ,unless its is very,very fresh,raw and bloody meat ,prefering a live meal. The decapitation is a classis polecat kill -so frustrating when you see how little of the bird they actually ate ! Your best bet is to make your birds as secure as possible so they dont get in at all - sturdy wire mesh under everything !! If it is a polecat ,they will often make a series of kills at one spot ,then move on for a bit ,but they WILL return ........as would an escapee pet ferret ,which is just as likely

petejw76

Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by petejw76 » 29 Jul 2012, 18:01

a polecat/martin/stoat would not dig a hole ten times bigger than it needed to get into the run so you can rule them out. foxes are alot smaller than most people imagine and would only dig a hole just big enough to squeeze through and they can happily get down a decent sized rabbit hole.

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Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by drfish » 30 Jul 2012, 15:16

I've yet to see a fox that can fit in a rabbit size hole. Small they may be, contortionists they aren't. This is why we use dogs of terrier size to catch rabbits.
Giving power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenage boy - P. J. O'Rourke (thanks Jessie)

It's amazing that people can believe everything is predestined but they still look both ways when crossing the road - Stephen Hawking

1 Wife, 3 children, 1 Staffie Bitch (RIP Marley), 1 Chi-Chi, 1 Tuxedo Cat, 1 part Maine Coon cat, male bearded dragon, Horsefield Tortoise, 2 White Silkies, 1 Frizzle Pekin, 1 CLB, 1 Appenzeller Spitzhauben Cockerel, 1 blue laced Wyandotte, 3 Appenzeller x Wynadotte pullets, 1 Call drake, 3 khaki Campbell ducks, 4 (2 male 2 female?) Aylesbury x Campbells, a breeding colony of Dubia cockroaches.

And a lot of Ibuprofen.

mumatmadhouse

Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by mumatmadhouse » 09 Aug 2012, 20:40

We have just dug a foot deep trench around run and wire mesh placed in the trench rolled up, soil then another mesh layer, soil and paving slabs. I have seen foxes get into small spaces on videos on you tube and have read if a squirrel can get in a fox can! Either way this might be a way to stop anything digging in

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Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by goatlady » 12 Aug 2012, 06:23

Don't be fooled by cute little martens coming in to eat jam sandwiches. They are vicious killers when it comes to poultry (as I know to my considerable cost). I agree with NannyP and millipup about decapitation. It's the hallmark of members of the weasel family - some of which are surprisingly big.

mattie2012

Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by mattie2012 » 13 Aug 2012, 12:59

As an avid fisherman as well as chicken keeper, I'm often down on our stretch of river. Sadly this year I can't find any fish and rumours in the area are that back in the times when animal rights were releasing mink from farms, he actually released his own mink. He was fed up with living in fear that the animal rights would beat him up and so got rid of them, but to what cost?

I fish for chub or trout and now I can't find any big trout and all the chub scholes have dissapeared. I know one day mink are going to attempt to get into my girls but i've secured the bottom of the run with corrugated sheeting buried into the ground, put stone all around the edge and chicken wire to 8ft high with an overhang to stop anything climbing up the fencing. The only thing bothering me is where the sheeting adjoins the block-work there are small holes in the roof. I'm going to cover this with chicken wire because the last people here keeping chickens had theirs taken by a weasel (There is almost no way of stopping a weasel) if you can I'd like to see it. I concreted any holes when we moved here which i suspected were rats getting into my shed. Two days later the rats had chewed through the cement and were once again getting in. It really is heart breaking and to totally secure your shed is a big job and shouldn't be taken lightly. I grew up in the countryside and have seen many animal attacks on chickens from adder to foxes/badgers. Having dogs is by no means a deterant to a fox, I've seen foxes walk straight past a horse box with a hole along the side where the dogs could poke their heads out and they've gone straight past that to the chicken run. If you look on youtube you'll find a video of a fox walking straight past a rotweiller to get to chickens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vzgnTEMyCg

Terrorist seems to be as clued up as myself on such matters. I suspect he/she is into shooting and the such like I am myself. Anyone new to chicken keeping I would urge to speak to someone like Terrorist for advice on securing their hens before spending as much money as I have and losing it all.

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Re: Not fox but what is taking my hens

Post by Wildybeast » 20 Nov 2012, 11:19

Hi,

Just a little trick i often use to identify what animal is causing the problem is to do the following.

Use a large baking tray, cat litter tray etc. Fill it to the brim with mud. Make the surface as smooth as you can. Some experimenting may be necessary to achieve the right consistency.

Place in near the coup in such a way that the predator has to step on the tray to get at the bait you have placed behind it. The bait being Cat food.Other things can be used. Dead rabbit , left over sunday roast.... anything smelly.

Placed under an overhanging bush or other natural cover should yield results.

The key is to make sure the bait can only be accessed by the animal crossing the mud. Place the bait behind the tray.... not on it. The idea being the tracks will be clear, clean and deep. If you place the bait on the tray. The animal will move around whilst eating and may destroy the track.

There are lots of track identifying sites on the web. You would be surprised just how small a gap a fox, feral cat, Pine marten etc can get through.

Raising a hutch/coup up off the ground by a meter or so will definitely help. Although not always practical. Make a removable ladder for your chooks to use during the day. remove it at night.

Remember

Now till May is a very active time for foxes. Dog foxes are out looking for some foxy lady to party with. The cubs will follow shortly !!!

All eager to learn how to hunt and hungry as hell.

Foxes are also out during the day if its quiet enough.

Nothing as crafty as a fox.

Hope this is of help ?

Jim

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