Something is killing my chickens. In the past 2 weeks my wife and I have lost 3 chickens. Overall we have lost something like 5 or 6 chickens.
1 Speckled Sussex about a year and a half old
1 Rhode Island Red about a year and a half old
1 Barred rock pullet about 6 – 7 weeks old
1 Australorp pullet about 6 – 7 weeks old
1 Black Jersey Giant about a year and a half old
The Speckled Sussex and Rhode Island Red just disappeared. One day they were there and the next day they were gone. No pile of feathers, no blood, no nothing, just gone.
The Black Jersey Giant was a different story. I found it inside the chicken yard half eaten.
The Barred Rock pullet, all I found was some feathers.
The Australorp pullet, something had killed and gutted it.
My first suspect are chicken hawks. On any given weekend early in the morning I can see up to three chicken hawks circling my neighbors house and my cousins house. For some reason they do not circle my house on a regular basis. Maybe it is because my chickens have trees in their chicken yard?
One morning I spotted a very large hawk to the north side of the property, which just happens to overlook the open end of the chicken yard.
I am currently leaning towards a chicken hawk doing the killings.
I can not see where the puppies are getting in the chicken yard. My wife saw the puppies kill one of our Australorp pullets. But after that we started keeping the chickens closed up inside the yard.
When the chickens were free ranging the puppies did not bother the full grown chickens. The puppies chased the chickens, but did not grab the full grown hens. The Jersey Giant was not only killed, but half eaten. The puppies have food all the time. So there was no reason for them to kill and eat the hen.
I just do not see a coyote coming this close to the house, and leaving no signs how it got into the chicken yard.
In urban areas coyotes may get near a house. But in rural areas, we do not have to worry about hitting a house so shoot coyotes. Coyotes come around, but they more or less keep their distance.
Raccoons and Opossums
Both of them are nocturnal, but sometimes come out during the day.
For the most part raccoons do not kill chickens anyway. Raccoons want the eggs.
Opossums eat the heads and leave the rest of the body.
I just do not see them killing a chicken, and then the dogs not dragging up part of the chicken a few days later. If a raccoon or opossum kill a chicken, they are not going to eat the whole thing. Whatever is left will be found by the dogs. Then the dogs will drag the body home for a snack.