An Overview Of the Cause Of Deaths for Backyard Chickens
By Tom Seest
What Kills Backyard Chickens?
There are many predators that attack backyard chickens. Here’s a look at some of the most common predators and ways to control their population. Lethal methods can also be used to eliminate them. However, be sure to use the safest methods possible. The methods listed below are not effective for all predators.
This photo was taken by Alex Rusin and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/roosters-and-hens-on-a-farm-in-winter-10727820/.
Table Of Contents
What Are Predators Of Backyard Chickens?
Predators of backyard chickens include foxes, minks, and weasels. While they don’t usually kill flocks of chickens, these predators can damage the chickens and their feathers. These animals may also eat the chickens, leaving behind their feathers and entrails.
These predators are best avoided by keeping your chickens in their coops at all times. Most attacks happen when your chickens are out of the coop, and once they’re back in their coop, the predators will likely move on to easier prey. You can keep them away using eight easy methods.
A sturdy chicken coop is the best way to prevent predators from attacking your chickens. Ensure that it’s well-secured by using heavy-gauge wire mesh. The sides of the fencing should flange outward. Although backyard chickens are not illegal, some municipalities, including Toronto and Halifax, prohibit them.
If you live in an urban area, it’s imperative to protect your flock from predators. You can do this by building a fence around your chicken run. This will protect your chickens from any potential predators, such as foxes, raccoons, and hawks.
Cats are another potential predator of backyard chickens. While they aren’t as large as bobcats or coyotes, they can still cause problems. Cats prefer younger chickens and chicks, so you should try to acclimate your cat with your flock. In addition to using a fence, you can use motion sensor lights or sound equipment to keep your chickens safe.
Chickens are prone to predators, including birds of prey, foxes, raccoons, and snakes. It’s best to keep your flock indoors at night or use a safeguard animal. If you’re not comfortable keeping your chickens indoors, consider using electric fences. These fences are inexpensive and easy to install. Electric fences may deter larger predators.
This photo was taken by tom balabaud and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/roosters-fighting-on-mossy-rocks-6447196/.
What Are Common Predators Of Backyard Chickens?
While eliminating chicken predators is nearly impossible, it is possible to minimize the risks associated with keeping your flock. The first step in preventing predators from entering your coop or pens is to identify them. You can identify predators by observing how often and where your birds die, as well as their damage.
Raccoons, owls, and coyotes are among the most common predators of backyard chickens. While they usually kill small chickens by stealing their head and neck, they can also kill mature chickens in the pasture and drag them away. Unfortunately, they rarely enter the chicken coop.
Cats are another common backyard chicken predator. These animals are not only great eaters, but they can easily kill a flock of chickens in one night. Although a majority of cats will not target a fully grown chicken, they will attack and kill a young hen. Even if they do not kill a full-grown chicken, they will take the chicks to feed on.
Hawks are another common predator. They are excellent hunters because they have sharp talons and beaks and can strike from high above. However, if you have an outdoor coop, hawks are a less serious threat than other predators. A hawk will generally only kill one chicken at a time. Unlike other predators, a hawk won’t gorge itself. It would be too heavy to fly and would not have enough food to survive.
Raccoons rarely eat an entire chicken. But if you see a carcass after a raccoon attack, you’re likely to suspect an attack. Bobcats, on the other hand, prefer free-range chickens, and can easily snatch one or two chickens in a single outing. They will often carry the chickens away to a new location before feasting on them.
This photo was taken by Enrique and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/flock-of-roosters-6415684/.
What Are Ways to Eliminate Predators Of Backyard Chickens?
There are several ways to eliminate backyard chickens, and not all of them involve extermination. A number of these methods involve using bird feeders and suet to deter unwanted critters. This can be effective since the chickens will learn that they cannot get free food in the yard. Another option is to use a fake decoy predator to scare off unwanted chickens.
One of the easiest and safest ways to protect your chickens is to ensure that their coops are kept clean and sanitary. It is also important to check on the chickens frequently. This will reduce the risk of a chicken dying from dust inhalation. For additional safety measures, you should use a lead-free feed.
Chickens should be fed a normal amount of feed, but you should avoid feeding your flock more than normal. Make sure you regularly remove excess feed and dispose of it properly. Also, make sure you store all feed in airtight and odor-free containers. In addition, you should always wash your hands thoroughly before handling the eggs. Large amounts of waste should be disposed of in compost or diluted with water. Smaller amounts of waste should be left alone.
Despite the many benefits of backyard chickens, many of these animals carry various pathogens. Vaccinating your chickens is a good way to limit the risk of infection. You should also keep your coop clean to prevent pathogens from spreading among the flock. If your flock has already been infected with a disease, consult a veterinarian to determine the cause and prevent further damage.
Chickens are attracted to smells and food sources in your yard, so you should avoid using these substances around your backyard. Alternatively, you can place motion-activated sprinklers in areas where chickens are prone to congregate.
This photo was taken by Julissa Helmuth and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-hens-and-roosters-sitting-in-grass-5557746/.
What Are Lethal Methods to Kill Backyard Chickens?
One of the easiest ways to kill backyard chickens is by using a lethal method. Chickens are naturally curious and can be suicidal. Antifreeze is a poison and, even in small amounts, it can be lethal. Chicken owners should use caution when using antifreeze to avoid causing further damage.
Another method for killing chickens involves snapping their neck with a broomstick. Make sure to use a sharp knife for this process. This method can be a bit risky and requires someone else to help. Make sure to do some research before trying it out. If possible, find a reference or a witness to the process.
Lethal methods to kill backyard chickens aren’t considered humane, but it is necessary for the welfare of your flock. The method involves cutting a major vessel in the neck. This results in the bird’s death in three to four minutes. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, this is an unacceptable way to kill a bird.
Chickens can cause illness and death, which is why backyard chickens should be killed with care. Salmonella is a common cause of foodborne illness and can be spread by your chickens. Salmonella is one of the main bacteria in chickens and is responsible for several outbreaks in the US in the past decade.
Poisoning your chickens is an option, but it is not a recommended method. If you’re looking to prevent aerial predators, use aviary netting or deer netting. Also, if you’re keeping free-range chickens, cover the area with a sheet of plastic or metal. Using these methods is only a temporary fix. It is important to develop a plan for the long term.
This photo was taken by Ольга Бочкарева and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/roosters-on-green-grass-field-5873880/.
How to Prevent Access to Backyard Chickens?
Predators are a constant concern for small chicken flock owners, and they can be particularly dangerous during the cold months. Winter is a season of privation for all creatures, including chickens. Extreme weather can even turn this season into a season of starvation. This is why predator-repellent techniques are important.
Predators feed on exposed chicken eggs and chicks, so leaving food out is a huge invitation for predators. Once they discover that there’s a source of food nearby, they’ll search for it. These predators can quickly move on to killing chicks, eggs, and bantam birds.
This photo was taken by Ralph and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/chickens-on-grass-field-7323135/.