Uncommon Poultry Predators

by Manda H

Published April 9, 2024

What if you go outside to find one of your beloved birds or even your whole flock decimated? There will be certain predators that always come to mind first. Fox? Dog? Coyotes? Mink? Owl? Possum? Hawks? But what about when you have losses that do not quite fit the typical predator guidelines. While those are very common backyard flock predators, there are some additional predators that might not cross your mind, but you should be aware that they can pose a risk to your flock.

cat lurking behind baby chick Meyer Hatchery uncommon predators

The Predators Silently Among Us

For those blessed with a farm pond, it is a wonderful sight to watch your baby ducklings swimming. You would not necessarily think that there is a danger potentially lurking under the water, but snapping turtles pose a risk to baby ducklings.  You won’t even see them. You will simply see ducklings disappearing as the snapping turtles will grab onto the feet and pull them under. If you have a farm pond where you would like to have ducks enjoying it as well, we recommend putting a fence around that will restrict the migration of snappers into your pond or by removing them in the event you find that some have moved in.

Great Blue Heron Meyer Hatchery

Predators from the Pond

Keeping with the farm pond, there is another predator that can be attracted to the area.  Great Blue Herons can frequently be seen along the water’s edge, eagerly awaiting baby fish, tadpoles and frogs, but they also have interest in ducklings and even baby chicks.  I found this out the hard way one year when I would frequently see the Great Blue Heron walking in my yard, away from the pond.  I thought it was so neat and would take photos, while not really considering why my baby chicks kept disappearing with a frantic upset Mama Hen. One day it finally dawned on me that it was not hunting frogs in my yard, but rather my chicks. I shared the news with my friends on Facebook and a friend let me know that the Great Blue Heron at her pond would frequently take baby ducklings too.

Squirrely Predators

This predator is a little harder to prevent compared to snapping turtles. My recommendation would be to restrict mama hens, mama ducks, and their babies to have access to outside the coop only by a tractor, run or to stay protected within the coop until the chicks or ducklings are older.  

Now this next one I might not even believe except that it happened to me. I noticed I had some sort of creature living in my garage during the same time period that my bird feeder started emptying more quickly than normal. I figured the two issues were connected so I made the choice to discontinue filling the feeder. Within a week or two I started having deaths in my pullet coop. It would be a chicken or two a night, usually near the feed dish, with obvious trauma to the head and sometimes partially consumed but no hole large enough for the common predators. I was unsuccessful in trapping predators with common types of bait. I was at a loss until one day when I accidentally hit a red squirrel that fell out of my vehicle as I was backing out of my garage. It died instantly and my mysterious chicken deaths immediately ceased. I had to do an internet search on it because it sounded insane, but sure enough, given the right situations such as a fight over feed, squirrels will attack chickens. They are a type of rodent which are omnivorous and therefore do have diets that include meat.

Have you ever dealt with an uncommon predator that went after your flock? Feel free to share your story with us below.

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