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What is murdering our chickens?

By Loose Brown - 30 April 2011 24

chicken coop

I am hoping RiotAct readers can help with our poultry problem. My wife and I live in Dickson and we have a backyard chicken coop. We have never had a problem until our last batch of three Isa Brown chickens came of age and we replaced them with some Chinese Silkies. These fluffy white chickens were pretty stupid but looked lovely and our three year old daughter loved them. Some nights we would leave them outside the coop until one morning we woke to discover that something had attacked them, taken one and pulled the heads off the others!

It was all very sad but we got over it and purchased two new Isa Brown pullets late last year who were doing fine and we left them in the coop all the time, unless we were at home gardening or something.

Anyway, this morning I got up to discover that there had been a massive fight in the chicken coop and both of them were lying there, once again with their heads pulled off.

If it was a fox wouldn’t it have eaten the whole chicken? Could it be a cat? We’ve seen cats in our backyard but they tend to hand around the compost, knocking off rats and mice.

Internet forums suggest it could be a racoon, badger or mink but I think we’re pretty safe from those in Dicko. Has anyone heard of possums coming over all homicidal?


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24 Responses to
What is murdering our chickens?
shadow boxer 7:17 am 01 May 11

looking at that smelly (and presumably noisy) mess and the rats and mice breeding in your compost I would think the neighbours are the obvious suspects

eq2 9:46 pm 30 Apr 11

Interesting timing. Two nights ago our neighbour also had all their chickens killed by a fox that dug under the fencing at around 4am in Aranda.

FoMoCo 9:05 pm 30 Apr 11

As per other comments, need a roof on the coop, and the better way to secure the bottom and to save you digging 2 feet down is to bury 2 foot of mesh and couple inches below the surface on the outside of the fence. The fox will dig down hit the mesh and stop. They aren’t smart enough to go further away from the fence and try. This is what we did out on the farm with great success.

Caractacus Potts 7:37 pm 30 Apr 11

As other posters have said, it’s definitely a fox. We were in a similar situation a couple of years ago – we were amazed that the fox could carry off its kill back over the 6 foot high mesh.

To make the coop fox proof, it needs a mesh roof (the buggers can climb), and you need to continue the mesh at the bottom of the coop, and bury it at least a couple of feet down (the buggers can dig). And the door looks a bit dodgy too…

Alternatively, to save you this work, you can do what we did and make a secure door for the hen house (ours is made of some steel mesh we had spare, and, of course, cable ties. Ah cable ties, is there nothing they can’t do?). After the hens go in to roost at dusk, lock them in, and let them out in the morning. A bit of a hassle, but it’s something you can do quickly.

vg 7:34 pm 30 Apr 11

Chickens cannot be murdered as they are not people

KCL 7:00 pm 30 Apr 11

yeah the same thing is happening in Nth Lyneham

shena 4:13 pm 30 Apr 11

Definately one, or more likely multiple fox(es). We are in atherton st downer and 3 weeks ago were alerted by our chook loving neighbours on both sides of our yard that they had spotted a fox. I was slightly disbelieving, but our only australorpe was freeranging at the time, and once I realised she was ok, we looked to our front yard to see the fox jump out of our bushes and take off down tardent street. This was approx 2pm on a sat arvo, I had thought they were more noctural creatures… Our chookyard was again extra foxproofed with a secure roofed area.
Also a few years back our 3 australorpes were attacked at about 2am one morning in their shed, n whilst wounded, all recovered and happily survived. Im not sure if this may have to do with their size as they are big girls…

Peppablack 3:52 pm 30 Apr 11

Sounds definitely like a fox attack. This is the time they come out and venture into the suburbs Autumn/Winter. You will need to repair/update your coop, as foxes will be back, whether you are at home or not. Dogs are good deterrents as they will pick up on foxes scent. Good Luck and hope you have better luck with new chickens.

buzz819 2:54 pm 30 Apr 11

Yeah, Dickson is close enough to the forest type area that runs between Majura and Ainslie.

They will bury one or two of them, pull the heads off the rest, eat them or take them with them, then come back for the buried ones.

I think next time you go one some forums, you should try some Aussie ones, no badgers or raccoons in Australia.

damien haas 2:29 pm 30 Apr 11

Definitely foxes. Your coop is inadequate.

Your gate is far too low, and you need to fully enclose the area. A chicken wire mesh roof is needed urgently.

Please dont buy any more chooks until you fix the coop.

dungfungus 2:02 pm 30 Apr 11

Definitely a fox – they rip heads off; it’s their calling card.

basketcase 1:11 pm 30 Apr 11

Foxes killed off ours over a couple of nights. We live West Belconnen.

Chaz 1:09 pm 30 Apr 11

My guess would be either a possum or cat. Otherwise my guess would be a bunch of youths in a commodore who approached the chickens and asked for a cigarette. When the chickens said they didn’t smoke, the youths then attacked said chickens and fled the scene.

Pommy bastard 1:06 pm 30 Apr 11

Mick Taylor.

Ozi 12:44 pm 30 Apr 11

We had 7 chickens killed by a fox in Melbourne: a barred plymouth rock, 2 aracounas (is the plural aracouni?) a rhode island red, a welsummer, a laced wyandot and an isa brown. One Isa Brown survived the attack. The fox attacked at 10am one morning, whilst we were home, and only made an attempt to actually take one of the chickens away. The rest were just killed seemingly for sport.

It certainly sounds like your chickens are being killed by a fox as well. The fencing seems woefully inadequate to protect any chickens from a determined fox: ours were killed despite being behind a 7 foot high fence dug 1 metre into the ground and with a loose (not taut) upper section which foxes are meant to dislike.

Your setup seems to have a taut upper section and looks about 5 foot high which is not enough sadly. Our chickens are now fully enclosed in a run 20m x 4m with a wire roof across the top and the fence dug 2 feet into the ground and reinforced for the first metre or so above ground level with a second layer of chicken wire.

Suffice to say, there haven’t been any attacks since this upgraded coup was built. I think the fox model of attack is to kill everything, then dray chickens away one at a time over the next hours to where ever they are living at the time: normally a greenbelt area nearby or drains/creek area.

So in short, yes it was almost certainly a fox, and yes it will happen again unless you upgrade the coup significantly.

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