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  1. #1
    Elite Member tallyho8's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
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    Katrinaville LA west of Westwego east of Ama south of River Ridge north of Boutte, above sea level
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    Kubota L4400, Kubota ZD326

    Default What eats the heads off of chickens?

    My neighbor has had a chicken killed for the last two days. Something just eats the head off and leaves the rest. I can't find any tracks in the area because the grass is too thick and the ground too hard. I know that my cats will eat the heads off of rats and leave the rest but these chickens are too big for the cats.

    His chickens are in a fenced-in area that dogs can not get into.

    I caught some coon in the last couple of months that were eating my dog feed and tearing up my horse feed but have not seen any coon signs lately.

    I am suspecting possum though I haven't seen any lately.

    My neighbor is putting out a trap tonight with vienna sausages. I told him a sardine can would work better but he doesn't have any.

    Ideas?
    Happy Trails!
    Dudley

  2. #2
    Super Star Member dave1949's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
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    12,615
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    Industry, Maine
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    New Holland TC40

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    Mink or some other weasel family critter? Maybe they are going for the blood mostly, or carrying the head back to a den to feed young?
    Dave.
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."
    When there is a huge solar energy spill, it is called a "nice day"!

  3. #3
    Veteran Member
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    Apr 2002
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    SW Ohio
    Tractor
    yanmar

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    BTDT. Found 4-5 hens like that 15 years ago or so. They roosted in the barn at night, 8-10 feet off the ground on various pieces of framing. Finally resolved to sit out all night in a shop that adjoined that section of the barn. What follows is purely circumstantial evidence, but.....first night I saw a HUGE skunk come out from under a wooden-floored pen and begin climbing a 4x6 pole toward the chickens. Yes, I too had always heard skunks could not climb. Wrong. I watched. I made a bit of noise (intentionally) and he came down and went back under this wooden floor. I got some sweet feed from a closed bin (the aroma will bring in all sorts of critters), put it in a paper feed sack, and left the sack sitting near where he disappeared, angled so he could get into it....this was a 50# sack. Sure enough, he came out again and crawls into the sack. Once it is clear he is eating at the bottom, I put a dozen or so holes ( just about .223" in diameter) in the bag for ventilation, quickly folded the top over, and took it outside and left it in a field. Actually never did get much odor from it. No more chickens with their heads eaten off, and we had chickens for several more years. So what was eating the chicken heads? Never saw him do it, but my money was on the skunk.

  4. #4
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Mar 2000
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    38,367
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    Texas

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    I'd agree with your thoughts about it being a possum, unless you have ferrets or weasels in your area. I've no personal experience with ferrets and weasels, but I've heard they'll do that.
    Bird

  5. #5
    Super Member dcyrilc's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
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    5,490
    Location
    Woodinville, Washington
    Tractor
    John Deere 2240 MFWD

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    We had a feral mink that got our chickens and phesants years back. Got him in a pan trap. Now he's mounted on the mantle. He did just what you are describing.
    Cyril

    JD 2240 MFWD (with duels now)
    145 FEL, 8ft Rear blade (now I need a 12ft blade)



  6. #6
    Super Star Member
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    Upper Midwest USA
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    JD_4x2_Gator, JD_4300, JD_X485, JD_425, JD_455, JD_110

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    I'd say weasel too.
    Here is info on predators and varmints.

    Livestock and predation identification page

  7. #7
    Veteran Member Dozernut's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
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    South Eastern Illinois
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    Kubota L4610, ZD21, RTV900, B2630

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    Sounds like a Raccoon to me. When the kids were small and in 4-H they had some show chickens they put in small carrier cages that evening. Next morning when they went to get the cages they found chickens with heads, wings, and legs chewed off. The cages were small and the coons would reach into the cage and pull out what they could and dine on what they managed to pull through the wire. I set traps and caught five coons who kept coming back, they are now in a better place! I would strongly suspect the masked marauder as your culprit.
    RB

  8. #8
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    357
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    USA
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    Kubota B2320

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    Sounds like raccoons are reaching in through the fence and pulling the chickens that walk by, the head is all that will pull through the fence holes.

    Double fence the coup, with a gap between the two is all that will stop it.

  9. #9
    Super Star Member
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    JD_4x2_Gator, JD_4300, JD_X485, JD_425, JD_455, JD_110

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    Reading the link I posted, tells how the racoons do it to chickens. And it is different from weasels. The head, and only the head, seems to be the clue.
    Racoons go beyond the head, and eat more "parts".

  10. #10
    Super Member two_bit_score's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
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    Texas - from the brush and pear to the piney woods
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    John Deere 110 TLB

    Default Re: What eats the heads off of chickens?

    Quote Originally Posted by tallyho8 View Post
    My neighbor has had a chicken killed for the last two days. Something just eats the head off and leaves the rest. I can't find any tracks in the area because the grass is too thick and the ground too hard. I know that my cats will eat the heads off of rats and leave the rest but these chickens are too big for the cats.

    His chickens are in a fenced-in area that dogs can not get into.

    I caught some coon in the last couple of months that were eating my dog feed and tearing up my horse feed but have not seen any coon signs lately.

    I am suspecting possum though I haven't seen any lately.

    My neighbor is putting out a trap tonight with vienna sausages. I told him a sardine can would work better but he doesn't have any.

    Ideas?
    Probably skunks.

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