What Killed My Chicken? Here’s How to Determine the Killer

Lost or dead chickens often mean you have a predator on the loose who has spotted your chicken coop.

This also means you have to start protecting your chickens. What’s the best way to do this? Find out what has attacked your precious chick. That way, you can install guards that will help keep them away from your chickens and lower the chances of them killing more of your flock.

In this article, we talk about all the possible predators that usually stalk and kill chickens. Then, we covered a list of criteria for determining the likely killer of your chickens.

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19 Predators That Killed Chickens

raccoon breaking into the chicken coop

We’re not the only members of the food chain enjoying good chicken breast. Many wild animals enjoy delicious chicken wings.

Possible ground predators of chickens include:

  • Raccoon
  • skunk
  • Change
  • Opossum
  • Dog
  • bear
  • snake
  • cat
  • Wolf
  • weasel
  • Mouse
  • wild pig
  • Coyote
  • Bobcats
  • man

It’s not an exhaustive list, but it does cover the vast majority of potential offenders. You’ll also notice that some of them will be much more relevant depending on your geographic area. For example, wolves wouldn’t be common in most of the Midwest but maybe if you live in the Rockies.

Animals like foxes, snakes, and raccoons will be common offenders almost anywhere you live, as they have a much wider range.

There are some aerial predators you should watch out for as well. There are not this many, but they are widespread. Because they are smaller, they are more likely to chase small chicks or chicks. This includes:

  • Eagle

  • Eagle

  • owl

  • Raven

Eagles may be large enough to take on an adult chicken, but they are often not aggressive or hungry enough to approach human development.

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Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Out What’s Killing Your Chickens

Now that you are equipped with the knowledge of all the animals that would love to kill your chickens, you should figure out which one it is.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

1. Do they kill chickens during the day or at night?

dead chicken

If it is daytime, it excludes all types of animals because many predators are nocturnal animals. Animals that may have picked up your bird during the day include:

  • bear

  • Dog

  • cat

  • snake

  • weasel

  • Eagle

  • Eagle

  • Raven

  • man

Some of the animals that might pick up your chickens at night overlap those that will pick up during the day. They include:

  • Change
  • Raccoon
  • Opossum
  • wild pig
  • bear
  • Coyote
  • Bobcats
  • weasel
  • Wolf
  • skunk
  • Mouse
  • snake
  • Dog
  • owl
  • man

Note that the list of nighttime catches is a bit longer because night covers work for many things, not just human thieves. That is why it is very important that you secure your chickens at night and ensure that there are no exposed areas in their coop. It’s unlikely that your chicken will try to escape and it’s more likely that an animal will barge in to get your chicken.


2. Did the chicken crumble and was only partially eaten or not eaten at all?

Not all animals kill chickens for food. Some have a high prey drive but may not like chickens.

Often times, if your chicken dies but is not eaten, it means the pet is at fault. Even if you think that your dog or cat will never harm a fly, they cannot overcome their primary instinct to hunt, and chickens do become their prey.

Crows may also be guilty of eating some, but usually chicks, as they are fairly small birds.

Weasel may be another cause. Although they may eat chickens, they are also lovers of hunting. If you find a whole chicken left to die in the coop, then you can suspect a ferret.


3. Was the head missing, maybe some of the innards, with the rest left behind?

What you see in front of you is clear evidence of an air strike. Birds often attack and eat their prey by pecking at the parts that will provide them with the most nutrition and letting the rest come back later, as they cannot carry the rest.

Another killer who likes to hit the head is the raccoon. They will eat your chicken head and happily leave leaving the rest for other predators or more likely, for you to find in the morning.


4. Are chicken intestines everywhere?

dead chicken with fly

Some messy eaters are conspicuous and not very good at covering their tracks.

If your chicken is torn to shreds with guts strewn all over, think opossums or ferrets. Weasel usually won’t eat chicken, but when they’re really hungry, they go a little wild.

Opossums enjoy nutrient-rich chicken parts and often eat a lot of intestines and internal organs, scattering the pieces everywhere in the process.


5. Is the bird gone, but still have feathers left?

This usually means that the predator is big enough to grab the bird and carry it away, and your poor chicken is putting up a fight.

The animals include larger ones such as foxes, wild boars, coyotes, bears, or wolves. These animals don’t want to kill more than they can eat and generally want to get away from human development as quickly as possible.


6. Did the bird just disappear?

That’s often the job of human thieves, especially if your chickens are well socialized and won’t fight back if humans take them. That means you’re unlikely to find any strewn feathers, but your chickens will most likely be gone for good.


7. Is the inside of the egg missing with a cracked shell?

Some of the smaller predators don’t want to take the time or struggle to get a whole chicken. Instead, they attack defenseless eggs. Most of the time, this will be the skunk that comes in and sucks most of the inside of the egg.


8. Is the egg missing but the chicken unharmed?

snake

Often, this is a snake’s job, as they will quickly eat a whole egg, and their digestive system will work through it later. Rats or humans can also be guilty as they too can escape with the eggs intact without leaving any evidence behind.

Read Related:

  • Dead Chicken in the Coop? Here’s What To Do (Step-by-Step Guide)
  • Do Crows Attack Chickens? How to Protect Your Flock
  • Do Foxes Attack Chickens in the Daytime? Or Only At Night?

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In short

There’s a lot that can happen after your hens and their eggs. Unfortunately, your prized flock of chickens lies at the bottom of the food chain. You need to keep them well protected by ensuring that they have a safe place to roam during the day, with a fence around them, and that they should always be cooped up at night.

Read Related: 10 Best Automatic Chicken Coop Doors in 2021 – Top Reviews & Picks


Featured Image Credit: thiraphonthongaram, Shutterstock

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