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Author Topic: Sudden/Violent Death  (Read 646 times)

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Sudden/Violent Death
« on: June 15, 2021, 03:35:45 pm »
My daughter has various breeds of chicken ranging from Pekins to Brahmas. They all free range over a few acres but most of the time prefer to be in the garden/near the house. We live in the Welsh hills/rural.


My daughter heard a strange high pitched noise that continued for some time this afternoon and ran out to check her hens.


On the drive to our property in close proximity to the house was one of her Faverolles. A healthy, fully grown bird. She was going around in circles, flapping with her eyes closed. Daughter thinks that she was already dead and doing that thing they do after death sometimes. She passed in a few seconds.


There are feathers in the area and just a couple of drops of blood. Just behind her comb is a wound. It is small but deep and down to the bone as though the skin split open. Neck might be broken too but I can't tell for certain.


The rest of the flock were nearby and going about their business.


What could have happened to her??????? Any thoughts??????

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: 5th UK nation
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2021, 05:56:20 pm »
Oh, horrible !  Mustelid attack (albeit unsuccessful as regards its dinner) ??

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2021, 08:31:55 am »
Agree, some sort of predator. Bird of prey perhaps?

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2021, 08:58:14 am »
Barn Owls emit a high pitched whistle/ shriek, so that could be the noise your daughter heard. We have them here and they are hunting at night and during the day now as they have chicks (in our roof). Perhaps one attacked your hen with a view to dismembering her and taking parts back to the nest?

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2021, 08:59:23 am »
A brook borders our land so we did wonder about mink but the hen was on our drive a field and garden away from the water course.


We think maybe bird of prey. We have buzzards, red kite, sparrowhawk and peregrine on occasion. I know that there are hen harriers not too far from here. And we've seen goshawk.


Thinking that it could have been an inexperienced juvenile going for something that they wouldn't normally tackle. Hard to imagine though that they'd choose to go for such a big hen! Can't think of another explanation.


Poor birds are all confined to barracks today.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2021, 09:03:53 am »
Cross posted with you, Chrismahon.


Possible. I've never seen them hunting here in the day though. We're keeping a look out today though the ladies and gents are all safe in their pens. Hoping that whatever it was forgets about them.


Always read that birds of prey don't bother hens but can't think of anything else that could have caused that much targeted damage so quickly and then leave without alarming the rest of the flock.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2021, 10:37:46 am »
A bird of prey attack usually causes a shock wave to stun the whole flock for a moment, but perhaps the other hens had thought 'oh it's not me, that's ok then' and got on with foraging before your daughter arrived.
Do you have stoats and weasels as well as mink?
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2021, 11:43:04 am »
That's interesting FW. My daughter says that when she first ran out the rest of the flock were standing still and just staring. They quickly then went about their business.


We did spot what my daughter says was a weasel a few weeks ago hunting in one of our fields ......running in and out of burrows that must belong to some sort of vole.


Would a weasel attack a very big hen in that way and cause such damage so quickly?

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2021, 12:37:23 pm »
Weasels are incredibly feisty but probably not.  Stoats are much bigger and with young to feed could have tried it on.  In view of the 'stun' effect your daughter witnessed though it was probably a bird of prey. Perhaps buzzard of the ones you mention.  I have never seen a buzzard attack a living hen, but Mr F has seen one kill a hen (black Maran).  It would be way too big for a sparrow hawk, red kites go for carrion and a Peregrine wouldn't go for something it couldn't lift, although the high pitched noise could fit.  I would have expected a buzzard to have stayed in the vicinity.  It's a mystery 8)


Do you happen to have any young tow rags around with catapults?
« Last Edit: June 16, 2021, 12:40:45 pm by Fleecewife »
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2021, 02:15:40 pm »
Thanks, FW.


No tow rags living nearby. Not many folk at all and no strangers pass this way.


It is a mystery. Just hope that the offender stays away.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2021, 03:27:26 pm »
I would have thought a bird of prey would have got his talons into the body before trying to bite. Mink/pine marten or even a feisty weasel/stoat would be more my guess. I have seen a tiny stoat attack a rabbit, and it went for the eyes and head. I also had a whole house full of hens killed (overnight though) by a stoat (I know it was a stoat as s/he shot out as I opened the pop hole in the morning...)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2021, 11:30:59 pm »
Maybe, but are buzzards not usually already hunting on the ground for worms and so on, so don't swoop in like a sparrow hawk or similar?  The one that got our hen approached from the ground.
You would think a stoat would have made off with the hen rather than attacking her then leaving her, unless it was so surprised when she ran around in circles flapping her wings that it ran off.
It's all surmise without further clues, so keep your eyes peeled inthehills for the return of a possible predator, or tow rag (or is it toerag?) I think once a predator has the idea that there is a whole flock of easy dinners wandering around then it will try again.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2021, 12:46:18 pm »
Mmmmmm, telling a neighbour about our poor hen this morning and he said that he thought that he'd seen a weasel run across the road a few days ago.
I was just walking back from collecting an injured hedgehog and have seen the said weasel run across the road just a short distance from our property.
Blow. Beginning to suspect a weasel! It really was a big hen to try it's luck with but seems too much of a coincidence.


Our hens are all in their hen houses and attached runs but they haven't got that much space and being used to free range are not happy and being confined does not seem to suit our Minorcas.


Is the weasel more likely to get in and kill the whole pen full if I leave them in? Do the hens stand more chance if they're actually free ranging? I'm sure that he could get in the runs easy enough if determined.


How do I deter the weasel?????!!!!!!! I have not a clue. Never spotted weasels around here before.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2021, 01:09:55 pm »
I wonder what a large rabbit weighs compared with your hen?  Certainly weasels can drag rabbits far bigger than themselves all the way back to their den. Clearly if it was a weasel then she was a bit too big for it, but it could only find that out by trying. It seems very likely that you have found your culprit.
What to do about it?
Some years ago we had some rather feisty Scots Greys which refused to sleep indoors.  They were picked off one a day in the early hours by a stoat, once they came down from their roost.  We only realised what was happening once the final one was taken.  The stoat disappeared for a while then although I have seen it since, plus it's amazingly cute family of stoatlets.
I think that by keeping your hens in they are at risk of being wiped out by the weasel getting in and having a field day in there.  But that could happen at night as well as in the day. It's easier to weasel proof a house than a pen, given they can squeeze in through the tiniest hole. We have wrapped our hen houses in very small mesh poultry netting, from the ground up, and under the floors.  In our case it's to foil the rats (we are getting a Parson Russell pup shortly, so their days are numbered  8) ) but the finest mesh should also keep out the weasel.  For the daytime, all I can think of is keeping them close to the house and watching over them, like a close-shepherded sheep flock.  Do you have dogs which would stay in with the foraging hens? Could you fence a large area to restrict the hens a bit so you could see them most of the time? Human or canine presence might deter a weasel.  Otherwise I'm clean out of suggestions.  Would electric poultry netting keep out a weasel?
« Last Edit: June 17, 2021, 01:14:15 pm by Fleecewife »
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

edstrong

  • Joined Jun 2015
Re: Sudden/Violent Death
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2021, 02:48:44 pm »
I doubt barn owls. It is true they are at the busiest at the moment feeding their chicks but there is an abundance of normal barn owl prey this year (field voles, mice) and less need for daytime hunting and barn owls wouldn't go for something as big as a chicken (wouldn't be able to carry it away).

 

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