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Chicken taken ☹️

Does anyone on here keep chickens and, if so, do birds of prey ever take them? We have had a young chicken taken late this afternoon and we are sure it was not a fox - no sign of entry or exit. Usually, if a fox, there are plenty of signs. But today, just 2 piles of feathers. We did not hear any commotion despite being in the garden all day. They are in a half acre paddock, surrounded by trees, and are free range.
Any thoughts?


  • MarranMarran Posts: 189
    Quite possible for a buzzard, or a red kite, to take them.  Mine are very aware when they're flying overhead and tend to hide.  Could still have been a fox though ...
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    I think a fox would have just picked it up and gone. Birds of prey tend to leave piles of feathers but it's usually a fairly noisy event. What about stoats and weasels? Neighbouring cat?
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 10,171
    Even a heron or large gull will take small chickens. Buzzards are notorious for it though and carry the bird away before eating it, unlike smaller raptors. They can carry large rabbits so chickens are no problem for them.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,937
    Fox … I’d put money on it … in a half acre paddock? … a fox will be in and out over a fence before you can say boo to a goose. 

    The feathers are from when she killed it to stop it squawking.  

    A bird of prey couldn’t kill a chicken quickly enough to stop it squawking. You’d have heard it. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • LynLyn Posts: 23,066
    Fox had mine, not only took one but went on a killing frenzy and mutilated the others.
    I hate them, if they just took one to eat it would be ok,  but they rarely stop at that.
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • A friend of mine has lost several young birds to crows. Nothing left but feathers. He moved the roost to a sheltered spot so the young chickens had easy access to shelter, and has not lost any since. Seems the crows only attack if they have easy flight path.
    Marne la vallée, basically just outside Paris 🇫🇷, but definitely Scottish at heart.
  • In our experience, foxes often leave a massacre behind and there is usually evidence of where it took the chicken over or through the fence. The chicken was fully grown - just point of lay. 😢  I wasn't sure if a buzzard would bother with a full grown hen.

  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 6,550
    I don't keep them but several people do on our Allotments. I  agree with other comments but another possibility is rats. At least 2 plotholders have given up keeping hens because of rats, and  I don't mean just eating the spilled grain. 
    AB Still learning

  • ShepherdsBarnShepherdsBarn Posts: 401
    edited July 2022
    To be honest @Allotment Boy, we have kept chickens for nearly 40 years and have never lost a full grown chicken to a rat ... not even a very young chick. Yes, rats are always a problem and will never go away, not even when you think you have got to the bottom of it ... they always come back!
    Our problem has always been Mr Fox - taking just one chicken but leaving carnage behind. In the end we resorted to keeping llamas - that solved the problem completely. 
    We kept llamas for nearly 7 years but decided to rehome them about 3 years ago and this is about the first problem we have had since - but I am not convinced that it was a fox and don't think for a minute that it was a rat either.
  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 6,550
    Fair enough you obviously have a lot of experience keeping livestock. I  was only reporting what others have found.  Without a wildlife camera I guess you will never know. 
    AB Still learning

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