What kills chickens and leaves only feathers? The answer to this question is extremely important as it’s one poultry farmers need to know. With a fast growing demand for poultry products, many farmers are going into the business of raising chickens for meat or egg production. To succeed as a farmer, you need to be familiar with chicken predators. If you’re a chicken farmer, chances are you’ve experienced first-hand the mystery of what causes chickens to die and leaves only feathers behind. In this blog post, we’ll explore possible causes of chicken deaths that leaves only traces of feather.
Chicken Predators That Leaves Feathers Behind
Many farmers lose their chickens to poultry predators. The most common perpetrators are foxes, raccoons, coyotes, feral dogs, raccoons and even large birds like hawks.
These are the most obvious cause of feather-only chicken deaths. Predators will kill and eat chickens — or at least try. They often make attempts on entire flocks, but only manage to nab one or two chickens before getting scared off by humans or other animals (such as dogs). While some predators may eat an entire chicken, others may only consume certain choice parts (like breasts).
While it may be obvious when a chicken is taken by a predator, feather-only deaths can indicate an attack as well. Dogs, foxes and other predators are capable of entering a henhouse and killing your chickens without leaving any remains.
A predator that is known to kill chickens, and leaves only feathers behind is the fox. The feathers are usually left in a circular pattern, which suggests that the fox has killed the bird, plucked it, and then eaten it or taken it away to eat later.
Foxes can be very tricky animals and they attack chickens in many different ways. A fox may try to capture a fully grown bird by running it down and killing it with a bite to the back of the neck. Another method is to sneak up on a chicken coop at night and wait for someone to leave a gap in their defences. When this happens, the fox will run into the coop and catch one of the birds before making its escape. Hens with chicks are also easy targets for foxes because they cannot move quickly enough to escape from danger.
Foxes often catch chickens but don’t eat them on the spot. Instead, they may hide or bury the chicken so they can come back later. If the chicken is left uneaten for too long, other animals like maggots may begin feeding on the carcass and leave behind only feathers.
In fact, a fox can enter a henhouse through the smallest gaps, so there’s little you can do to keep them out of your coop. Because you can’t prevent predation, it’s important to get rid of the culprit once they’ve committed the crime. But because foxes aren’t an uncommon sight in rural areas, it may be difficult to know if they are the ones who killed your chickens. To maintain proof that it was indeed a wild animal who killed your chickens, you must find a carcass or witness the animal doing the deed.
The chicken’s death is quick but not painless. It will probably suffer head injuries on its way to being captured. The fox will eat any part of a chicken that it finds palatable, but especially likes the breast meat and heart. If only feathers are found, it means that these delicacies have already been consumed.
While we’re on the topic of animals, let’s not forget about our beloved pets. Dogs and cats have been known to attack and kill chickens. In most cases, dogs will eat their victim completely — feathers and all (especially if they’re large breeds). Cats are more likely to leave feathers behind since they’re smaller animals with smaller stomachs.
Owls and hawks
Owls and hawks are predators that kill chickens, pheasants, turkeys, quails, and sheep. They pick their victims off one-by-one at night with their sharp claws and razor-like beaks. After they pluck the feathers from their prey (and sometimes before), they’ll eat all the meat on its bones. They leave a large pile of feathers on the ground called a “pluck” when they are done. They usually hunt at night.
Sometimes owls will hunt in the daytime, though. They don’t do this often because it’s harder for them to catch prey in sunlight. Owls have good hearing and sight, but they can’t see very well during the day because their eyes are designed for night vision. Owls and hawks are both predators, but their methods for dealing with their prey differ dramatically. The owl is known for its silent flight, a skill that allows it to pounce on its dinner without warning. (Meanwhile, if you’re a mouse or a chicken, “silent” isn’t exactly the quality you’d hope for in your potential predator.) While an owl is occupied with its main course, though—a mouse-sized feast—it leaves behind quite a few feathers in the process.
There’s plenty of evidence that suggests that this isn’t just an accident: owls have been observed plucking feathers from their prey at the site of the kill. If they’re feeling particularly bold and safe, they’ll even carry over the plucking operation to their perch; seeing as how most predators would rather not dine right next to their victims’ remains, this kind of behavior can be pretty helpful if you’re trying to avoid detection by other hungry critters.
Although some birds of prey eat only meat—like owls—some birds of prey are also scavengers
The chicken’s natural predator is the hawk, but despite being one of the chicken’s greatest enemies, the hawk will rarely devour more than half of the chicken, leaving behind the rest of its prey. Why? This is because hawks are not looking to eat chickens (or any other bird species). Hawks aren’t birds; they’re birds of prey. Instead, they are simply looking to eat enough to sustain themselves for the day.
Even though most hawks will leave behind enough meat for other scavengers (such as foxes or coyotes), it’s important to remember that these predators also have their own prey to hunt down and feed their young. So unless there are a lot of hawks in an area, there isn’t much food left for scavengers and vultures.
Now you know what Kills Chickens and Leaves Only Feathers behind.
Here are some of the reasons why a predator may attack chickens:
The predator is hungry
This is the most common reason. A predator will attack any animal that can be consumed in order to satisfy its need for food. A fox or a coyote will kill a chicken to eat it, because they are predators and this is their natural way of life.
The predator is defending territory
If another animal challenges a coyote’s territory, it may kill all of the animals in the area. For example, if a coyote finds the scent of another coyote on the chicken coop, it may kill all of the chickens in order to mark its territory, so other coyotes know not to come near to that area again.
The predator is looking for fun or for sport
Sometimes predators attack chickens just for fun or for sport, like humans who like hunting animals for sport or entertainment (not very humane). This category includes trained birds used by hunters.