For backyard chicken keepers, homesteaders, and large-scale farmers alike, the single greatest challenge is protecting poultry from predators. Lately we have been receiving several inquiries about the same topic. “My chickens are dead”, “My chickens are missing” and “help me trap whatever is eating my chickens”. There is a huge trend now since new homeowners are buying their dream homes in the country and along with nice organic garden beds, so is the idea of raising backyard chickens. But if you have ambitions of living off the land and raising chickens, be prepared to deal with the threat of predation but you never know how big of an issue it is until its too late. If you own a backyard flock, more than likely, you have experienced a predator or two - especially if you allow your poultry to free-range. However, chickens that free-range are not the only chickens susceptible to predator attacks. Even if you keep your flock is kept in an enclosure, they might not be safe.
Predators are predators and they will kill or attempt to kill no matter what hurdles you put in front of them! They will dig tunnels, rip through fences, ambush in the daytime, nothing will stop them when they are craving some breast, thighs, and wings! So, before you call Loomacres Wildlife Management or any other wildlife removal company here are some things to know that will help you identify the predators you might be dealing with.
When are your chickens disappearing? Working out what could be killing the chickens in your flock can help you protect against future attacks. Predators kill in different ways and at varying times of the day. There are three types of predator groups, and you can generally identify this group by documenting when they are disappearing.
Nocturnal Hunters: If you are going to bed at night and everything is ok but waking up to a morning massacre here is a list of potential night killers.
Low Light Hunters: These are predators that use either first thing in the morning to ambush waking prey or become active as the sun is setting.
Daytime Hunters: Some predators may hunt any time and may be included in one or more groups and hungry animals or those with young to feed are likely to be more of a problem during the day.
So now that you have a list of potential predators and you have narrowed down your suspects how to you know exactly what is killing your chickens? Outside of using a trail camera to capture an image of the intruder is to examine the crime scene. No, you do not have to be a character on CSI or own a Detective Badge, but you will have to look at what was left behind. Below is a helpful guide broken down by each predator and their hunting tendencies.
Fox: Scattered feathers inside and outside coup, multiple chickens wounded or multiple dead, one missing at a time with the Fox coming back multiple times.
Coyotes: Look for scat or poop that looks a lot like your dogs but has hair, bone, or feathers in it. Multiple chickens missing during the night, multiple dead inside the coup. Many times, your fence may be ripped apart of a hole dug under the fence for entrance and exit.
Bears: Probably the easiest to tell but if your pen is completely destroyed and it looks like a mass murderer has been there, yep, it’s a bear!
Domestic Cat: Very underrated killer on this list and probably the slickest! Small chickens or chicks taken singly, single birds taken, wings, head and feet left. Cats typically do not leave anything living behind even if they do not eat it.
Skunks: Just close your eyes and smell the odor. Skunks are messy killers so look for missing organs on the chickens left behind, empty eggshells around the nest.
Raccoons: Mostly active at night and will typically only kill chicks and eggs! Raccoons are notorious for squeezing through tight places.
Rats: If your chickens are missing feet or toes, wounded, or you find a lot of partially eaten chicks you have got a rat problem.
Snake: Single dead chicken, may have a wet head showing the snake tried to swallow it. Missing eggs.
Mountain Lion: They like to hunt at Dusk/Dawn and typically will kill multiple birds (1-5) in a single visit. Look for tracks because like domestic cats they do not leave a lot of trace evidence!
Dogs: Chickens badly bitten with deep puncture wounds and rarely eaten. Kills all chickens it can get hold of. Damaged fences and feathers everywhere. They are not stealthy so picture a bull in a China Shop.
Hawks / Eagles: These daytime hunters like to enter the pen from above so look at the roof for damage. Birds of prey take a single bird and tend to eat where they kill. Remains spread on back with most of the chicken eaten. Sparrowhawks may carry birds away.
Owls: Nighttime hunters or right at dawn. Look for talon marks in any wounded chickens and scan the yard for feathers underneath a perch tree.
Fishers or Minks: These aggressive killers mostly kill for fun and are efficient. Look for bite marks around the neck area or if heads are missing and your pen looks to be untouched you probably have your suspect!
Opossums: One or two chickens killed. Bites in breast or thigh, abdomen eaten, chickens eaten on site because they are lazy and do not care to leave the scene of the crime.
Now that you have the ability to identify the critters that are ruining your chicken flock, we strongly suggest you contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION where one of our on-staff Wildlife Biologist can talk you through the next steps whether its applying for a depredation permit through your state wildlife authority or help you implement a trapping strategy. Remember that all these creatures are wild and pose a bite risk to humans so should you encounter any of them, handle the situation with great care and get help. If you are beyond the point of wanting to deal with it yourself fill out the form below and we will contact you shortly.
Each spring and early summer Facebook, and Instagram is loaded with pictures and videos of fawns (baby deer) and they are typically all the same. A cute little newborn fawn laying behind a woodshed, in a flowerbed, or some tall grass in the backyard. As humans living in the United States of course we must document everything and post away. However how close is too close? Fawns have almost no odor, so predators cannot smell them. Their white spotted coats provide excellent camouflage when they are lying on the forest floor. For the first week of life, frightened fawns instinctively freeze, making full use of their protective coloration. If you think about it what happens if that cute photo of a lifetime has fatal consequences to it is it worth it?
Here is a list of reasons you should just admire from a far and keep it moving.
Most studies have come up with a fawn’s survival rate in the wild is between 33 and 68 percent. These studies were done over a 15-year period and over several different states and habitat conditions. Please do not make it even harder on the fawn to survive. Use common sense and keep in mind not to touch it under any circumstance and keep your distance because you never know if that Facebook picture may cause the life of a newborn deer.
If you want more information or to speak with a wildlife biologist about a specific issue you are having or question you need clarification on, fill out the form below.
July 4th is rapidly approaching, and social gathering is happening all over. In a normal year Americans start stocking up on all sorts of fireworks and sparklers to celebrate Independence Day! The covid pandemic however has caused a shortage for all sorts of random things like toilet paper, guns and ammo, lumber, chlorine, fruit trees and now add Pyrotechnics to that list. Seeing as more than 130,000,000 people in the U.S. are finally fully vaccinated, which means they can take off their masks and gather like they used to before the pandemic, per new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The fireworks or pyrotechnic industry is facing a "massive product shortage." In fact, more than 60 percent of the fireworks ordered by companies in the U.S. for 2021 will not actually arrive this year because of the shortage. Yes, that equates to a 6-month waiting period if my math works.
Imports from China, where more than 90% of the world’s fireworks are manufactured, have plummeted as the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many factories there. As a result, Chinese exports dropped to near zero in January and the United States imported 75% fewer fireworks in all of 2020 compared to 2019. China’s production of fireworks generally increases during the winter months, but that may not be possible this year due to the closed factories and with an increase in all United States holiday shows, wedding venues, and sporting events, China only produced 10% of what they normally produced in a non-covid year creating a massive shortage and back order for 2021!
In the Wildlife Management industry our shipments of pyrotechnics (Flashers, and bangers) have been delayed for almost 4-6 months at a time by our vendors due to an increase in demand, decrease in production, and outrageous shipping costs. How bad are the shipping costs? Well shipping costs have increased by more than 100 percent over the last year, which has contributed to the looming fireworks shortage. The increased costs have come from freight surcharges of $1,000 to $5,000, and additional charges added by ports in China. Many distributors tried to wait until the freight prices were low again, creating a massive fireworks shortage that our industry has never seen before. Other additional factors contributing to the shortage include the Suez Canal disruption, port closures in Canada, the pandemic's temporary shutdown, and new restrictions for production at Chinese firework factories.
If you look at the transportation industry which is in complete shambles after the world was temporarily shut down. The global transportation system is really in a wreck. Ports are backed up and ships are not moving the way they should. How is that going to impact the Fourth of July? Yes, a lot of people are going to be let down but in the Wildlife Management Industry where we depend on these as tools to prevent wildlife strikes on an airport it is now becoming a growing concern. The shortage is occurring at a time of increased demand. The American Pyrotechnics Association said last year the fireworks industry saw the highest consumer revenue in 20 years bringing in $1.9 billion. However, what does that mean for 2021? Empty shelves.
For more information or to speak with a Loomacres representative about ordering pyrotechnics or any airport wildlife control products, please fill out the fields below and someone will contact you shortly.