My Great Love of Chickens, 11-23-23

(I wrote this last night and didn’t hit send because I’m somehow ashamed to tell this story – as if I didn’t protect my chickens in every way possible.)

I write this blog about life on a small hobby farm and if you’re a long time reader you know how much I love my chickens. I’ve had several really horrible incidents over the years and now another one.

Yesterday afternoon I walked to the house from the shop and just happened to see Keeper running on the east side of the house towards the grove with a chicken in his mouth! I screamed bloody murder and chased him down and beat on him with the chicken. I was out of control and still screaming. He ran into the grove to get away from me. With the dead chicken in my arms I walked to the barn and found piles of feathers from individual chickens that I could even identify but no dead chickens.

Keeper has never shown any interest in the chickens and goes with me to the barn many times a day.

This amount of short under feathers is not normal.
See that clump? That came out from the skin in a clump, not an occasional lost feather.
More clumps
These feathers belonged to my beloved Gray Girl

I have walked these 6 acres over and over and I saw this black pile of dirt down the road so I went there. This looks like a fox hole to me but there isn’t a stray feather anywhere around it.

So now stop and think about this – where are the carcasses/bodies of the missing chickens that were attacked inside the barn? I think I’m going crazy. Every minute of daylight that I’ve had since yesterday afternoon with the exception of working at the church and eating dinner at Becky’s has been spent looking for my beloved hens.

I have been through the grove on foot and golf cart searching for clues – feathers, feet, wings, anything. I don’t believe Keeper did this – I believe he found the dead chicken. But what killed the chicken?

Later in the afternoon Telly had a dead chicken in the yard and this was after I had searched and found nothing. Telly was with Rick when all this happened. She ate the whole chicken and I know which one it was, too. She left parts of the chicken on the ground – wings, feathers, some bones. So if the other hens were eaten where are these same parts? Where did Telly find this dead chicken?

I’m a pretty experienced chicken owner and I haven’t figured this out. WHERE ARE THE BODIES OF THE MISSING CHICKENS???

Dot, Sylvia and Spottie were lucky and they’re still alive. This all happened in broad daylight – I am in disbelief. What entered the barn in broad daylight and grabbed chickens leaving piles of feathers behind and where did they take those chickens? Since I put the fences up nothing even close to this has happened. I am in shock.

129 thoughts on “My Great Love of Chickens, 11-23-23

  1. Carol at Pin Oak Quilting

    Mary, I’m so very sorry for your pain. What a horrifying couple of days you’ve had.
    Poor Keeper and Telly, doing what dogs do, scavenging, but how guilty Keeper seemed at the start.
    All those stages of grief in one day, shock, disbelief, anger, guilt, search, omg you’ve been through so much all in the name of love.
    I hope you solve your mystery, no matter how awful the answer. I’m grateful a few of your flock have survived, and sad for your loss.

  2. Shirley Andersen Smith

    Oh my Mary,
    I am so sorry about your chickens. Of course you love them. I think it was a fox or another animal. Do you have coyotes? Keep looking and lock up the others till you solve this. Just horrible.
    Shirley from Oregon

  3. Beverly

    Oh, my heart breaks over this for you! Beloved animals mean so much to us, and the loss of even one, hurts our hearts. I know my Mom loved her chickens as much as she loved anything…she was inconsolable when she lost a few to a midnight raider—I can only imagine how this hurts…I am so deeply sorry. Bev

  4. Diane in Maryland

    Oh Mary, I am so sorry! I do know that skunks are killers when it comes to chickens. But, I don’t know that they hide their kill. This is so sad for you! Since our daughter and grandson, Trice, have had chickens and Trice with his Toulouse Geese, I understand how attached a person gets to them. We all have loved them and like you, their dogs have never paid any attention to them. This is tragic. Hope you get answers.

    1. Amy F

      Skunks are more likely to take the eggs instead of the bird. Same for possums. I’ve gone out to my coop to find a possum curled up and sleeping quite happily in one of the nest boxes, after eating all the eggs of course!

  5. Mary Says Sew!

    Oh, Mary, how awful! I am so sorry for you and the chickens! The dogs and cats must be confused and stressed by the presence of whatever killed your chickens!

    It might be worth calling the Game, Fish & Parks officer for your area and any hunters you know and ask about what predators are active in your area right now. Wildlife are moving now as the ones born in the spring are looking for their own territory and resources for the winter, breeding season is underway, and harvest and hunting have wildlife on the move. Farmer Tim may have some insight, too.

  6. Debra Oscarson

    Oh,Mary, I’m so sorry for your loss of your beloved hens. I hope you can figure out what happened. Maybe a security camera focused on or in the barn? I know you loved them. We loved hearing your stories about them. Wishing answers and peace to you.

  7. Rita in Iowa

    Mary how sad and horrible and to have to put it into words so your readers can help you through this with their kind words. I hope you can solve this and put a little closure on it. Know that we are thinking of you. Have that ice you deserve.

  8. Pat Smith

    Your dogs have been around chickens all their lives and have never shown any aggression toward them. My guess is that something got in and took them away. But how could that happen without your dogs making a barking scene and calling your attention to it? And how could one lone predator do all this? Was there any break in the fence around your property? This really is such a mystery and I’m just so sorry that you lost chickens you loved and are going through such an awful time.

  9. Jan Pittenger

    I am so sorry! I know your heart is broken! This is really a weird situation – I’m sure you will figure it out, but meanwhile, it’s hard to know how to protect your remaining hens! Praying for you!!!
    A few years ago, I decided I wanted chickens, so my husband was all ready to go get lumber for a chicken house. Thank heaven, I came to my senses and decided against it!! I knew I would be just like you and my chickens would become pets and I’d worry about their safety from predators!! And, there are many folks here who have chickens and sell the eggs!! Guess where we get our eggs – and their so good, too!

  10. Frances E

    What a mystery! I’m so sorry for you and your chickens. And, the poor dogs just doing what dogs do. I agree with you that the dogs didn’t kill them. Is it possible that you have a critter that has tunneled under the barn? Good luck.

  11. Brenda in N Calif

    This is so sad I just want to give you a hug. Praying you. Can figure it out so everyone else is safe.

  12. Sue in Oregon

    I am so sad about this Mary. Sad for you and scary for me. Every time I go in our chicken house and yard, I hold my breath and start to count them, because you just never know. What could have happened? I am trying to think of an animal that takes its kill away like that. That leaves hardly any trace? I even asked Google about an animal that would do that but got nothing back. I feel So bad for you. I hope you get some answers today.

  13. Elaine Nixon

    You did all you possibly could to protect these beautiful creatures I am sure. Unfortunately we are not powerful enough at times. So sad. Be gentle with yourself.❤️😘

  14. Teresa in Indiana

    How awful! I can’t fathom the depth of your grief for your beloved chickens. I hope you get the answers you seek soon to help heal your heart. 💔

  15. Jan

    Mary, I’m so sorry to hear about the trauma of losing your chickens in this way.
    I’m sending you hugs & prayers
    Jan Swanda

  16. Diane, Squeak, and Buddy in Central Ohio

    Oh, Mary. That is so horrible and I am so sorry you, Keeper, and Telly had to go through this. My husband said if a dog kills a chicken, it will kill again and again so he is very sure it is not your dogs. I like the idea of calling the Fish and Game people to see if others are experiencing what you are and if they have any ideas or suggestions. That is so awful to lose your pets. Sad day.

  17. Janet Beyea

    I’m so sorry you have lost some of your beloved chickens. I hope you solve the problem soon.

  18. Marilyn Miller

    You’ve had some beautiful chickens, and your love for them is evident. I’m sorry you had to experience this. I hope Keeper has learned not to mess with chickens, even those already dead. Not a great memory for Thanksgiving. I hope the remainder of the holiday season is more uplifting for you. There has been enough loss in recent weeks. Enjoy some solice in your sewing room. That usually works for me. Maybe a cold beverage and some music you like, too.

  19. Dee in Ohio

    I’m sorry this happened. You have such a big heart I know you must be upset beyond belief.

  20. Chris

    I can hardly wait for the rest of the story, Mary. My son and daughter-in-law have a hobby farm in northern Florida, and chickens are so important to them. They lost a hen and couldn’t find her remains so they assume a hawk got her. They had seen one of their roosters defending the flock against a hawk. I hope by now you have solved this mystery so you can tell us what happened. I hope it’s an easy fix to prevent it from happening again.

  21. Jean

    Oh Mary Mary I just cannot fathom your pain. Nothing I can say will ease that so I will pray for peace on your heart till healing arrives.

  22. Kathy in western NY

    Oh how sad to read this and yes life is like this on a farm. It’s just so hard when tragedy happens. My sister lost chickens to coyotes that were burrowing into dens as construction was beginning on a housing development near them years ago. She decided after that she was done with them as too many predators now she can’t control. We said then who would have thought we’d have bears coming our way either. I agree with talking to your local game warden and see what their take is on it as this is their livelihood to track wild animals. My heart goes out to you and the dogs that are confused as this is not in their nature living with you.

  23. Mary S

    Mary – I am so sorry for the loss. I had the same thing happen to my flock about 4 years ago. This happened in August during the daylight. I came home and saw feathers around the yard but no bodies or parts of chickens. I found 6 smaller breed hens high in a cedar tree and a dazed hen in the front yard and there were a couple in the coop up on their roost. I lost a rooster and 8 hens. To this day I never found any body parts. My thought it was a fox family with young ones learning to hunt or coyotes. It took me a long time to get over the loss as I could only imagine the terror the chicken went thru. At that point I thought no more chickens. But a year later I raised some more chicks. I have a penned area but I do let them out when I am home as the chickens love being out and about. I have not had any issues since then. I think it is the not knowing what happened to them that stays with you. Time helps on the loss of a pet but one does not forget. So sorry for the loss.

  24. Wardena

    I am so sorry you are experiencing such heartache for your beloved chicken and such confusion with your canines. Poor Keeper was probably terrified and confused, too.

    I hope you find how the critter got in. I am confused, too. Where are the chickens? Did the critter go in and out that easily to nab one at a time?

    No one that reads your blog would blame you. You are such a responsible animal advocate.

    What stress. I am so sorry.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Wardena – barn door during the day is left open for hens to roam although the piles of feathers I showed were inside the barn.

  25. Sharon Geiger

    Wow! What a mystery! I hope you figure this out. My grandmother loved her chickens the same way you do now.

  26. Judie

    we lost a large pen of phesants one time. racoons dug under neath the pen. killed all of them. never had the heart to have any more, that was years ago. still feels like yesterday. hugs.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Judie – my steel fencing goes into the ground 6-10”. No digging under.

  27. Melody in Wisconsin

    I am so sorry about the chickens – could it have possibly been a weasel? They will kill chickens and can get into the tiniest spaces in barns. They can kill your whole flock by biting their necks which would leave the carcasses for the dogs to get ahold of. I can’t believe that Keeper would have harmed them after all this time.

    I have experienced sadness this Thanksgiving also. I had to have my cat Snickers euthanized the day before Thanksgiving for cancer under her tongue. She was my 12 1/2 year old rescue cat that i adopted over 7 years ago. She was in the shelter for over a year and when I brought her home with Ash (a 1 year old rescue that looks like Gracie), she definitely made up for lost time. She was such a busy body always playing and helping me by getting into closets, drawers, etc. She had dental disease and when they did her dental cleaning and pulled 6 teeth Nov. 2nd they found a suspicious spot under her tongue, did a needle aspiration and it showed cancer. After spending over $1,200 at the vet, she is gone in less than a month. She loved her food and she finally couldn’t even lap it up anymore and it was so cruel because she was hungry but just couldn’t eat. I was so hoping she would make it until I got the Christmas tree up for her (she always thought i put it up just for her and i always put some unbreakable ornaments at the bottom of the tree that her and Ash could bat off). So today I am putting up the tree without her help and I am heartbroken. I just have to tell myself that I had 7 1/2 years with her and she lived the best life she could have with me and Ash.

    I hope you get some clues as to what could have killed your chickens, so frustrating and heartbreaking.

    1. Colleen in Central Oregon

      So sorry for your loss Melody. It’s hard to lose a beloved pet.
      Sorry for your loss also Mary. I loved all my girls when I had chickens too. Have you thought about installing a trail cam? It may not save your chickens at the time, but at least it would tell you what you’re up against. Rick would have to watch the film for you. You couldn’t bear it with your tender heart. The only other option I can think of is sitting out with the girls with a shotgun handy.

    2. Linda in MI

      Melody, So sorry for your loss, how sad. I love my fur babies to pieces and know how horrible it is when you lose one not matter how old they are or how sick, it is never easy. Take time to breathe and remember all the adorable things snickers did while she was lucky enough to be with you. Thank you for loving her and remember, there are many more babies who need and deserve a good home.

    3. Mary Etherington Post author

      Melody – oh poor Snickers! And my sympathy to you – I’ve experienced a weasel in my barn years ago. The mystery is where are the carcasses of those chickens whose feathers were piled in the barn?

    4. Diane, Squeak, and Buddy in Central Ohio

      Melody, I am so sorry about your beloved kitty, Snickers. Please know that Snickers had a much better life with you than she ever would have had in the outdoors or in the shelter for life. You loved her and she loved you. Take care, Diane

    5. Diane in WI

      I am sorry to hear about your Snickers. Losing a pet is so difficult. Hope the days get easier for you.

  28. Nancy

    Mary I’m so sorry this happened to you and in broad daylight! I can’t imagine what it was! We’ve had Raccoons, hawks and foxes and that’s about it. Hope you discover the culvert! I’m so sorry for you loss as I too adore chickens. Very sincerely, Nancy K Walker

  29. Deb

    “if” it were bobcats, I found this info that might explain how they got over the fence and the missing remains.
    8. Bobcats are excellent climbers and jumpers.
    When threatened by a bigger carnivore, these cats will usually head for the safety of the nearest tree. Climbing among the branches also affords bobcats the opportunity to dine on nesting birds every so often. The felines have also been known to pounce onto unwary deer from overhanging tree limbs.

    They’re also incredible jumpers. Able to clear 12 feet in a single bound, the cats can easily jump across narrow waterways. One of them went viral in 2020 after it was filmed leaping across a yawning gap in a Louisiana dock that had partially collapsed. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, bobcats can jump fences over 6 feet tall.

    9. Bobcats like to cover their kills.
    Bobcats can’t always consume their prey in one sitting. Sometimes, the carnivores use dirt, snow, leaves, or grass to bury the uneaten pieces of especially large corpses, and will return periodically to dig up their leftovers. This behavior is known as “caching,” and it’s also practiced by the North American mountain lion.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Deb – I have already gone online to read about bobcats although I’ve not heard of any sightings in this area. Where is the trail of feathers?

  30. Sharon G.

    Mary – Sorry this happened to you and your chickens.
    Hawks could be the culprits. Hawks got my neighbor’s chickens.
    Glad that Dot, Sylvia, and Spottie are okay.
    Hope today is a better day for you, the chickens, and dogs.
    Take care everyone..

  31. Gayle Lacet

    I am so very sorry, Mary. I feel your pain, and I understand the disbelief you’re feeling. You need/want answers so you can rest. I’m so sorry.

  32. Sharon Ray

    My first thought was raccoons but they tend to kill all and leave a bloody mess. I hate them. It is weird that there are no bodies. Probably whatever is in that hole is the culprit. I love chickens and it seems that every living thing on the planet does too! You are a good chicken mamma and it isn’t your fault this happened. We have foxes, bears, hawks, neighbor dogs, cats, raccoons, coyotes and eagles that get ours!!! Their space has to be like Fort Knox!

  33. Launa

    So sad to read your chicken post this morning, Mary!
    Hope Deb’s info is of help to you! It’s always a good day when I can learn something new @ my age!

    Was so pleased the 49ers with QB Brock Purdy won against the Seahawks last night!

    Time for Iowa vs Nebraska game! Should be a good one!


  34. Patricia

    Oh Mary I can’t imagine the horror and disbelief of what happened yesterday. I’m so sorry you’ve had to experience such a traumatic event. I know you love your animals and chickens. Just the other day you took one of your chickens and cleaned up her back end because she was all plugged up. The mystery is definitely a head scratcher . I can’t imagine what happened to your chickens in the daylight. And to take so many? I hope you figure it out just for your peace of mind. Maybe one of those cameras that can record the activity in the barn. we had a wildlife one just to observe the activity of creatures roaming on our 3 acres. I didn’t know skunks would go after animals. I thought they were strictly bug eaters. Good luck and I hope you are able to resolve the mystery.

  35. Pam Cannon

    Oh Mary that’s terrible. Heartbreaking.
    I found your blog a couple of weeks ago and want to get a couple of fall patterns but can’t find your address to send the SAE and the payment.
    I want Pumpkins 4 Sale and American Harvest #672.
    Thank you-
    Pam Cannon.

    1. Diane in Maryland

      Pam, just send the SASE, the pattern names, and your check to Mary Etherington, 2345 Palm Ave., Garner, IA. 50438

  36. Betty Klosterman

    It sounds like your chickens were caught by hawks or other birds of prey. Especially since there are no bodies, just feathers. I don’t remember you having wire covering the penned area, just fenceing. A hawk would hit so fast the dogs or humans probably wouldn’t even notice.
    Out here people go out with their pets. They aren’t turned loose in the yard. A small dog or cat or chicken is perfect for hunting hawks. You can see them flying in circles looking for an easy meal.
    The chickens are your pets, your friends raised from babies. My sympathy goes out to you.
    Betty in Rapid City

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Betty – the piles of feathers were INSIDE THE BARN! No hawk is going to walk into the barn.

      1. Amy F

        No, but an owl would. I have had an inexperienced juvenile great horned owl go inside my coop and grab a bird on the coop floor, drag it out into the pen and kill it. Not knowing what to do because he was inexperienced, he went back in and grabbed another and killed it outside in the pen. He did this 6 times until my son went outside in the morning and scared him off. The owl had to go in the chicken-sized hen door on the side of my coop to get inside where the birds were. Now that my run is covered this can’t happen anymore. Don’t underestimate your local raptors, they are excellent at killing. A big owl can fly off with a chicken, smaller raptors can’t.

  37. Brendalynne

    Do you have Weasley in Iowa? Snakes getting ready for Winter underground? A hen named Henrietta that grew to crow rather than lay an egg made me recall those suggestions . He she let a strange demise also.

  38. Amy Kollasch

    It could have been hawks. They will rip out feathers. I am so sorry about your chickens. So horrible. Keeper could have scared the hawk away and then stole the chicken.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Amy – do you remember I said this was inside the barn? No hawk is going into the barn.

  39. Susan K in Texas

    Oh Mary! Just reading this and I feel your pain. I’m so sorry this happened. I hope you and the dogs and remaining chickens find some peace today.

  40. Linda in MI

    Oh Mary, I am so sorry and I feel your pain because I have been there. Those stinkin fox carry off their kill somewhere, that one may have pups and they don’t eat near their home. I had the same thing happen last year, my last four ladies disappeared all the same day without a trace. I found a fox hole but never found the exit hole which could be a pretty good distance away. I would be the last person to hurt an animal but I hate those lousy fox because they are sneaky and put us through such misery. I don’t think I will ever have chickens again because it is to upsetting when something happens to the gentle little creatures. I dearly loved my girls – and the silly roosters that were suppose to be hens but they are always lost so tragically that I can’t do that anymore. Maybe someday, but not anytime soon even though I miss them terribly.

    Keeper will forget your rage with your love and understanding, don’t worry about that, your rage is understandable and I would have most likely reacted the very same way!

  41. Sue in Marion, IN

    Mary, how awful! I’m also an animal over and the situation is horrible. I agree that it could likely be birds of prey. Even living in the heart of town I’ve seen kestrels swoop in and nab smaller birds, and they don’t leave a lot of evidence. Heartbreaking.

  42. Patricia E Campbell in AZ

    Oh Mary!!! 😭💔
    I have no answers for you, only grief to share… I’m SO sorry!!! I understand how precious these animals are to you – they’re your kids, your family. I also understand what it’s like to love and lose a chicken to violence. 😩 But what happened in your barn is a mystery!!! [[Hugs]]

  43. Diane Deibler

    I’d fill up the hole with rocks if you think it is a fox. Could be coyotes also. I’ve heard there’s a lot around. Sue Bruxfort said she hears then howling at night. My neighbor lost 9 baby kittens this summer and no dead ones found.

  44. Caryn in Eastern Washington

    Mary, I am so sorry for this awful thing that has happened. Hopefully you can find the culprit.
    Hugs and comfort.

  45. Amy F

    I love my chickens too Mary. I have 17 now, one died of old age 2 days ago. Now I live in NW Ohio so I don’t know what predators you might deal with out there. But if a chicken comes up missing the first thing I suspect is Great Horned Owls. They are large enough to handle an adult chicken. The 2nd culprit I suspect is a stray dog. My chickens are free range and a stray dog can do a lot of damage. I lost 6 this spring to a dog that wanted to “play” with, but not eat, my chickens. So I had 6 dead birds scattered around but none had been chewed on. Not a single drop of blood. The last culprit is a coyote. This hasn’t happened to me, but they are in my area. They will take a bird and run off with it leaving no trace. The foxes out here don’t care about the chickens for whatever reason. I’ve seen them trot by the pen in the late afternoon. I find their foot prints in the snow, but they never bother the chickens.”

    There are mink in my area and Lord help me if one ever decides it wants a chicken dinner. They wipe out your entire flock in one night by biting the heads of the chicken. I used to have a big raccoon problem until my son covered the outdoor run with chicken wire. Now they can’t get in at night! Coons will eat the crop and breast meat, then lose interest and leave. I’ve had large coon kill & carry off a dead bird to eat in the woods nearby. We live trap them and kill them if they become a problem.

    I’m sorry for your losses. I know how it feels. Sometimes you just want to give up. But having those lovely fresh eggs with deep gold yolks can’t be beat so I always keep going. Hugs from Ohio!

  46. Jeanine from Iowa

    Mary, I know how you feel. I felt horrible after I lost my chickens to what we think was a weasel or mink. It happened at night in the coop, and the culprit chewed a hole in the plywood to get into the coop. I had two left, and I had to give them away to a friend that had hens, and they did well there. It was so hard…..they knew their names and they would follow me around the yard when I was outside in the summer. So, do you just have three hens left out of all the chickens you had? I am so sorry and sad for you.

  47. Mareen

    Mary my heart hurts as I know how important your animals are to you. It’s a mystery. I hope you resolve, but may never. I agree with a couple of the ladies that may be a camera would be good to have, but not to have to watch either, so I don’t know what the answer is only that it’s sad and you can’t go back what do you do? I pray for answers. You are a true advocate, and perfect parent to your flocks and your animals and birds prayers everything for peace and understanding.

  48. Sandra Goddard

    I’m very sorry to read this. You feel like you let your animals down by not protecting them better. I have that t-shirt. Weasel or possum,

  49. Linda in Michigan

    I can only imagine the shock, horror, and grief you’re going through. I’m saddened for you, Mary.

  50. Judy in MO

    I could cry over this story. I know how you must feel. We feel we need to protect the animals we take into our care. I hope you soon find the varmit wrecking havoc in your barn.

  51. Carmen M.

    So very sorry to hear this Mary. Maybe you can put a game camera in the barn where the chickens usually are and you may see which critter is getting in there?

  52. Linda in CO

    So sorry! I raised chickens for several years, and I had an incident like this. Complete devastation! In my case, skunks got into the chicken house and went on a killing spree. I heard the commotion and ran out with a gun. I was able to kill one skunk before the rest vanished. I was so distraught that I considered giving away my chickens. Once I calmed down a bit, I realized it was not my fault, and that the chickens were happy where they were. It took a long while before I felt like they were safe again, but I did get there.

  53. Sue Hoover

    I am in tears with you over this story. We all know how you love your chickens, Mary, and as sad as I am, I’m sure it’s nothing compared to how you are feeling. Go easy on yourself, please. You do everything humanly possible to take good care of those chickens. ((hugs))

  54. Another Shirley in Oregon

    How heartbreaking! Any number of predators could have gotten your precious chickens–bobcats, foxes, opossums, raccoons, or even weasels. Do you have a State Fish and Game office nearby? If so, try giving them a call. Maybe they can answer your questions. In some areas, they will even trap and relocate nuisance game or recommend someone who will. Also, as others have suggested, you might try getting a game camera and installing it in your barn. They’re relatively inexpensive now and easy to install.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Another Shirley – I have a camera but don’t know how to get it set up and then watch it.

  55. Pamela Dempsey in Northeast Texas

    Ohhh, Mary, I’m so sorry! I pray for you and the rest of your girls, protection and comfort, answers to whatever happened. Hugs to you, have some iced tea…you are a good hen mama.

  56. Chris in Alaska

    Oh that’s so very tragic and horrifying to find !! So very sorry and I hope you get some answers. 2 of my daughters have chickens and they are certainly part of their families .

  57. Marsha in Michigan

    I’m so sorry this happened to you & your beloved chickens! It sounds very strange. What a horrible thing to happen over Thanksgiving!

  58. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    Oh Mary, how awful. So sorry for you and your chickens. Just incredible that that can happen inside the barn. I hope you get the answers you are looking for, and I’m glad some of your chickens survived.

  59. Sharon Eshlaman

    I have had similar experiences…..we have coyote, fox and hawk problems. So sorry to hear this has happened to you and your flock.

  60. Patty Holland

    This is the part of “farm life” I’ve always hated!! I feel terrible for your poor chickens, and you too.

  61. Lynn

    I am so sorry you had to go through this. I showed my husband the hole that was dug, he said it may be a woodchuck hole.

  62. Brenda Ks.

    Mary these pictures made me sick to my stomach!
    Hope you find some answers. Hugs and prayers!!!

  63. Leslie

    Oh Mary. I jumped out of bed last night at 10:30 to the sound of a fox barking outside our bedroom. Threw all the spot lights on, flashlight in hand. He was eating out of the compost pile, but would not leave. I finally banged on the fence and he left. Such a panic it put into my chickens and ducks. I hope you find an answer. I’m so very sorry. You love your babies.

  64. Martha W in WY

    Oh, Mary, this is such horrible news. I was wondering why there was no blog post. My grand-daughter lost her 4-H hen this fall to a neighbor ‘s dog. She let the 3 chickens out of the run for a few minutes while she got more feed for them and came back to one missing. I’m just thankful that she didn’t leave the 2 yr. old grand-daughter out by the pen. (The littlest grand-daughter likes to clean the chicken run.) It’s interesting that you or the dogs didn’t hear a ruckus in the barn.

  65. Charlotte S in No. California

    Oh my goodness, Mary! I’m so sorry to hear about your chickens. I hope you find out what happened.

  66. Linda in North Carolina

    Mary, I just read your post and am horrified at what has happened! Praying for answers and comfort and for no more tragedies, especially at this time of year!

  67. Cathie

    Oh, Mary, I am so sorry for the loss of your chickens. The loss of any family member
    is catastrophic but this is beyond that. You will be in my thoughts with the hope that you
    don’t lose any more chickens or other animals.

  68. JoAnn/MN

    Mary, I’m so sorry for your loss and all the searching you have done with no answers. Take care

  69. Kathy Duval

    I lost a couple of my geese to a predator and I was devastated. Something had to crawl my 6′ fence and carry the goose out, so we’re not sure what got that goose. I know fox and racoons are notorious for killing chickens and other available fowl. I’m so sorry.

  70. Jeanie S, Central Illinois

    Oh no, Mary! I know how much you love your chickens. Take care of yourself and keep us informed. 🥰

  71. Lindah in northern CA

    How frustrating! I’m so sorry, Mary. I hope the mystery can be solved soon, so you will know better how to prevent a repeat. Unfortunately, from reading the comments, it sounds like all sorts of predators are a problem with chickens.
    Once again, thank you for a (usually) lovely post. I enjoy it so much, including the interaction amongst the readers.

  72. patti

    i am so sorry for the loss of your chickens, mary. i pray that you will find peace soon. hugs, patti in FL

  73. Sandy N

    I’m so sorry,Mary! I really hope you find out what happened so you can prevent this heartache from happening again. No one that reads this blog would ever believe that you haven’t done everything possible to keep your flock safe.

  74. Jackie in NY

    Oh Mary, I’m so sorry about the loss of your chickens. I hope you find the bodies/parts so that you’ll have some peace of mind over what happened to them. I don’t live in a farm, but I love chickens too. I hope you get some answers.

  75. Virginia

    I am so very sorry to read about your chickens. I’ve always enjoyed the pictures and stories regarding the various pets/animals living with you. What a mystery you have going on. Hugs and love

  76. Celeste in WI

    Mary – I’m so sorry for your loss and the searching you’ve done without finding answers. It’s a sad day on your beloved farm. My heart goes out to you.

  77. Susan in VA

    I’m so sorry, Mary. We’ve lost ducks and chickens to predators and I just couldn’t bare it anymore, so we don’t have any now. Just an empty chicken coop. We did have a fox attack once. We h ad a rooster fight to the death for his hens once, and a few survived. We had some take off and return a day or two later. Do you think any could have done that? Have any returned?

  78. Wendy T.

    Mary – I can only imagine the shock you had at discovering the horrific scene in the barn. It is traumatic and very upsetting. Keeper will forgive you for your uncharacteristic behavior. I hope you are able to piece together what actually happened so you can put your mind to rest with the wondering and unanswered questions. Not knowing is so frustrating. I am thinking about you at this very difficult time.

  79. MaureenHP

    Such a sad and upsetting day for you. I hope you are able to find the predator or a moments peace will be hard to come by.

  80. Barbara Firesheets

    I am so sorry you’re going through this with your chickens. I’m praying that you find the problem soon. 🙏🙏🙏

  81. Sherri Huff

    Oh Mary,
    I’m so sorry to read this, we all know how much you love your Hens and all your critters! I heartbroken for you. Praying that you find some answers.
    Glad you still have your 3 girls.

  82. Barbara Vest

    I’m so sorry Mary, I know it’s a hurt that hangs on.. I lost my elderly cat years ago now, she was 19 and traveled with us everywhere as we moved quite a bit when my kids were young. My children grew up with Aggie and again she was our family cat. As she got older she liked to sit in the sun on cold days, so I let her out on the porch for about 15 minutes while I fed our horses one day. We lived in the country, a place like yours..When I returned to bring Aggie back in, she was gone..
    my kids and I searched for several days.. and not a trace anywhere.. people tell me she went to hide and die, but I just don’t believe it, others tell me she may have been carried off, by an animal or even a large bird.. I’ll never know, but your story reminded me of that and I know it’s even worse for you with several hens gone.. again I’m sorry for your pain, I hope you find your answers.. take care.. I really love reading your blog as we don’t live in the country anymore and reading your blog takes me there again.. we still have 3 cats!!
    Barbara V

  83. Tammy Guerrero

    I also have a flock that has at times been bothered by a preditor. Mostly ours are hawks that eat our hens. We also have had coyotes and red fox. I’ve heard weasels, opossum, raccoons can eat chickens. We have all of those by our barn but never had a problem with them bothering our hens. We have had opossums in our coop but they eat the feed not the hens. Even hawks, coyotes leave a bunch of feathers behind. I’m sure stumped as well as you are about your missing hens. Try buying a wildlife camera and putting it out there during the day. Wildlife cameras have become much cheaper then they use to be. Please keep us posted. I know how you feel about your hens. I’m very protective over my girls! We also keep ours locked up for several days after one has been attacked. So sorry this happened!

  84. Debra L Reber

    Mary, I’m so sorry about your chickens. Could a coyote jump your fence? or some sort of hawk or large bird?? Sending hugs your way

  85. Lochlan Stuart

    Oh my goodness. I am very sorry for your loss. I know how you love your chickens, they are part of your family. I hope answers come soon. Bless your broken heart

  86. Dee

    oh my. My heart goes out to you because I feel you have experienced a great, but also because you have no answers for closure!

    Hang in there.

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