What Killed My Chicken?

Did something get one or more of your chickens? Naturally, you want to know what it was and, more importantly, how to prevent it from happening again. We need to know all the possible killers and go through a series of questions to figure out what did it.

Examples of Land Predators:

Fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk, rat, feral pig, dog, people, bear, coyote,

snake, bobcat, cat, weasel, wolf, and tiger.

Examples of Aerial Predators:

Hawk, owl, eagle, and crow (usually only go after chicks or small breeds).

That’s a pretty exhaustive list of all the possibilities, and yes, there are more.

But, how can you possibly tell what killed your bird?

Here’re a series of questions to help narrow down the possibilities…

Did it happen at night or in the day?

Night – Human, fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk, rat, feral pig, bear, coyote, bobcat, weasel, wolf, snake, dog, tiger, or an owl.

Day – Human, bear, dog, snake, cat, weasel, hawk, eagle, or crow.

Are chickens missing and leaving no signs of their death?

Human, snake, owl, eagle, hawk, coyote, pig, bear, tiger or wolf. If it’s a small chicken, it could have been a snake.

Is the head gone (and maybe some innards) and everything else is left behind?

Think raccoon, hawk, owl, or eagle.

Are guts scattered all over the place?

Consider opossum or a weasel.

Is the bird gone, but there are feathers left?

It could have been a fox, coyote, feral pig, bear, tiger, or a wolf.

Are the inside of the eggs gone and the shells cracked?

It’s most likely a skunk.

Are the eggs completely gone?

Almost definitely a snake but could be a rat or a human.

Is the chicken seemingly unharmed?

This bird probably died from its own health issues.

But all these killers can be narrowed down to just 2 things!

Land predator or aerial predator…

Most killers roam around at night, so it’s going to be essential to secure the flock at night. For the daytime aerial attacks, securing netting or shade cloth is a smart option.

Mobile Chicken Coop is available at American Farm and Larder!

What Killed My Chicken?

Clue Possible Predator

One or two birds killed --

Entire chicken eaten on site Hawk

Bites in breast or thigh, abdomen eaten, entire bird eaton on site Opossum

Deep marks on head on head and neck, or head and neck eaten, maybe feathers around the fence post Owl

Entire chicken eaten or missing, maybe scattered feathers Coyote

One bird gone, maybe scattered feathers Fox

Chicks pulled into fence, wings and feet not eaten Domestic cat

Chicks killed, abdomen eaten (but not muscles and skin), maybe lingering odor Skunk

Head bitten off, claw marks on neck, back, and sides; body partially covered with litter


Bruises and bites on legs Rat

Backs bitten, heads missing, necks and breasts torn, breasts and entrails eaten; bird pulled into fence and partially eaten; carcass found away from housing, maybe scattered feathers


Several birds killed —

Birds mauled but not eaten; fence or building torn into; feet pulled through cage bottom and bitten off Dog

Bodies neatly piled, killed by small bites on neck and body, back of head and neck eaten


Birds killed by small bites on neck and body, bruises on head and under wings, back of head and neck eaten, bodies neatly piled; faint skunk-like odor


Rear end bitten, intestines pulled out Fisher, marten

Chicks dead; faint lingering odor Skunk

Heads and crops eaten Raccoon

One bird missing —

Feathers scattered or no clues Bobcat, cougar (aka catamount, mountain lion, panther, puma), fox, hawk, owl

Fence or building torn into, feathers scattered Dog

Small bird missing, lingering musky odor Mink

Several birds missing —

No clues. Coyote, hawk, human

Feathers scattered or no clues Fox

Chicks missing, no clues Snake

Small birds missing, bits of coarse fur at coop opening Raccoon

Chicks or young birds missing Cat, rat

Eggs missing —

No clues Human, rat, snake, squirrel

Empty shells in and around nests Dog, mink, opossum, raccoon

Empty shells in nest or near housing Crow, jay

No clues or empty shells in and around nests, maybe faint lingering odor


All of these killers can be narrowed down to just two things: Land predator or aerial predator. Most killers roam around at night, so it’s going to be essential to secure the flock at night. For the daytime aerial attacks, securing netting or shade cloth or using a chicken coop are smart options.

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American Farm and Larder at Amy's Farm

7698 Eucalyptus Avenue

Ontario California 91762

Feed pick-up locations are offered throughout riverside, orange, and san Bernardino counties.
FEED PICK-UP HOURS at Amy's farm:
Monday through Friday by appt, 
Saturday 9am until noon (by appointment after noon). 
Please check the Calendar page or call for other locations, days, and times.

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