NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Predator  (Read 813 times)


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • High Peak
« on: February 23, 2019, 07:00:52 pm »
Does anyone have any idea what this could be? We have an eglu cube with a few mixed chickens in it in a pet pen with our rabbits and guinea pigs for our holiday let guests to watch.  The pen is like a large fenced lawn so they all range in it during the day then at night get locked securely in the eglu for safety. Eglus have an indoor and outdoor area and are supposed to be fox proof (and we do have foxes). 3 days ago we added a young silky cockerel to the eglu cube as we intended to keep him for breeding. Our old guy seemed to accept him during the day in the large pen but I think maybe the youngster was too intimidated to go up into the roosting area in the eglu at night and stayed downstairs. This morning I found him fatally injured in that pen. His leg had been bitten off at the point that it joins his chest. The eglu pen gate was still locked and the other birds were fine. We can’t see how a fox or badger could have got to him. Something managed to grab and bite off his leg from the outside of the eglu wire  boundary. Any ideas?
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Predator
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2019, 08:56:17 pm »
The only predator that I've had that has managed to eat part of a bird from the other side of the wire is a cat. But I can't see a cat biting the leg off. And don't see how any other animal, without claws, could hold the bird near enough to the wire to eat it.  :thinking: 
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Predator
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2019, 09:59:15 pm »
I had a sparrow hawk pulling growers through the bars of a cage. Actually caught it in the act so no doubt. I put extra, finer size wire around the base of the pen and no more deaths, but I did see it back on the lawn, hopping about the cage.
Also had a cat who learned to pull half grown chicks through the 'hand holder holes' of a pen years ago.

 And my neighbour, years ago told me about a mistery; she would find them picked clean inside their pen, only with no skull/head! Eventually saw a fox sitting beside them and realised it must have waited for them to poke their heads out to get the long strands of grass, bit it off and the remaining hens in the pen must have done the rest!


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Predator
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2019, 11:52:39 pm »
I don't know the size of the mesh in an Eglu.  Two suggestions - rat or stoat/weasel. We had ducklings in our greenhouse one year with the floor totally protected by 1cm wire mesh.  A fat rat pulled the ducklings down through the mesh and out along its tunnel system.

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  • Joined Feb 2017
  • High Peak
Re: Predator
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2019, 11:35:46 am »
Thanks for replies. I don’t think it’s a cat. We’ve never seen one down on the farm yard they tend to stay away due to our dogs. Like I say, we have had fox attacks but mostly in the other big hen pen when we have left them out of their shed slightly too late (lesson learned!), not in this petting pen.   We do have red kites and buzzards who fly in the valley so that’s a possibility but it was a night time attack. Stoat or weasel is a worrying thought. I can’t see the young cockerel having poked his leg out through the wire so feel it must have been something small enough to get its head through to grab him then tried to pull him through which would have been impossible so just took the leg. May have to look into traps. Last year we lost 10 out of 12 baby chicks from another eglu who were with their mum. She was unharmed as were the remaining 2 and there wasn’t a feather in sight so wonder if it again was rat, stoat or weasel? But then you’d think it would just keep coming back as we always have hens and often chicks in the petting pen.


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Predator
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2019, 01:20:04 pm »
If it happened at night it wont be a bird of prey. I would go with rat, stoat or mink.

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Predator
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2019, 05:16:20 pm »
Def small mustalid or rat. Fen trap in a tunnel nearby or cage trap. How big is the mesh?
You could wire smaller meat over it?
A wildlife camera and bait might tell you what you're up against?


  • Joined Mar 2017
  • Rhondda fach
Re: Predator
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2019, 08:20:37 pm »
If birds are dead but not eaten and have parts still intact, a weasel may have attacked the flock. Members of the weasel family, including mink, kill just for the fun of killing. Often, the chickens' bodies are bloodied.


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Predator
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2019, 09:05:14 pm »
We have a Larson trap, a few years ago I found a magpie with its leg torn off, I presumed weasel or stoat, must have got hold from underneath. Felt awful, they need cotrolling but i dont like them suffering like that :( .
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 03:12:51 am by Penninehillbilly »


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
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Re: Predator
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2019, 10:37:24 pm »
I'd guess rat
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  • Joined Feb 2017
  • High Peak
Re: Predator
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2019, 03:16:14 pm »
We have bought a humane small animal trap which we will bait nightly and see what happens (though if we do catch a rat/weasel/ stoat we will dispose of it). Will let you know if and when we find out what it was.


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