Attack of a Wiley Coyote March 22, 2012

Living in the city, with a tall block wall surrounding our back yard, I had a false sense of security regarding the safety of our flock. For about 2 1/2 years our chickens enjoyed peace in the backyard. They roamed free each afternoon and co-existed peacefully with our 3 dogs. Each night, before bed (which is late at our house), I would mosey out and lock up the coop and then open it up again in the morning.

Hens enjoying their freedom under the watchful eye of our Cocker Spaniel.

One night, while I was home watching television, the sound of something terribly wrong finally penetrated my brain.  I realized the sounds of chickens squawking at night and the dogs’ continuous barking was not normal.  It hit me!  I flipped on the porch light, ran outside, and saw a coyote next to my run.  She had pinned down and was standing over one of my black hens!

Without thinking, I ran towards the coyote, yelling and waving my arms above my head like a maniac.  Thankfully, the coyote dropped the black hen and ran away from me, instead of at me!  The black hen took off like a bolt of lightning. Our dogs, who had been standing back, barking excitedly at the coyote the entire time, became suddenly braver at the sight of the beast running away and gave chase to the retreating enemy.  That coyote leaped up to the top of our 6 1/2 ft. block wall and over the other side with ease.

With the coyote gone, I was able to start surveying the damage.  Some of my frightened hens had left their coop and were wandering around the yard in the dark.   While crying and taking stock of our losses, I discovered a few hens that had been killed by the destructive coyote.   With the help of my teenage daughter, we rounded up and counted our chickens – I belive we had 20 at that time.   We counted again… still one missing.   With a heavy heart, thinking we had lost yet another one, we started looking and calling for the missing hen, one of my favorites.

Pecker, a lucky survivor, rates high in personality

Aha…!  It hit me.  I remembered the black hen running like the dickens to escape the jaws of death.  I took off in the direction she had run.  Tucked into a corner where the house meets the fence, was a very still, black chicken with her head tucked down.  Afraid she was gone, I gently reached out, spoke her name softly, and picked up a very live and happy-to-see-me hen.  Pecker had survived!    At 3 1/2 years of age, she still holds one of the top 2 pecking order positions in our flock and is one special chicken.

That wiley coyote did come back later that night and found the hens all locked up and heard the crazy woman yelling at it again.  I noticed this time, that it was limping and probably pretty desperate for easy prey.   It’s been over a year since that incident and thankfully, there have been no more predator attacks against my flock.

Sadly, there are many dangerous and smart predators out there that would love to make a meal of your chickens.  I advise being proactive and guarding against predator attacks before they occur.  Also, please note that many dogs are not safe around chickens – I’ve been very fortunate that mine are chicken friendly.   Most likely, you’ll need to predator proof your coop against dogs also.



LindaG March 22nd, 2012

Glad to hear your chicken survived!

Gary A March 23rd, 2012

Thanks for your post!

Our chickens had been doing the same thing; wondering around all day, resting in the sunlight and roaming around until dusk when they all made their way back to the coop.

One afternoon, one of our favorites just vanished! We couldn’t figure it out! 3pm in the afternoon and she was gone as if lifted off of our property by a UFO. We live in the hills of Hollywood in Los Angeles and I was beside myself that she was gone.

I kept them in their run for a day, and then decided to let them out again because they enjoyed it so much. Well, the next day, 3pm rolled around and I heard a big commotion outside. A very HEALTHY coyote was about to snatch another. 5 feet from our front door and at 3pm in the afternoon!

Needless to say, until we get a fence with coyote rollers installed the girls will have to stay in their run.

My note to Wylie – Be afraid… very afraid!

Michelle March 23rd, 2012

After a neighbor’s border collie romped through our flock and killed the only Blue Amerecauna hen we had hatched from eggs we obtained from MyPetChicken, we built a 50′ x 50′ enclosure with 5ft chicken wire. Our chickens quickly figured out how to top the fence. Even wing clipping couldn’t keep them in. The girls soon decimated all the ground cover within the enclosure and the soil eroded quickly. With no greens to eat, we decided to leave the enclosure gate open. Our neighbor assured us her collie was secure.

We are on five acres, with no neighbors within 0.25 mile.
But dogs don’t know boundaries and can easily make it through most pasture fences.

We came home one day to a chicken laying oddly in the driveway. I soon discovered it was not alone. Nine (9) hens and a Blue Amerecauna roo hatched from MyPetChicken eggs were also killed. This was the work of a pair of dogs, or so we heard. It was maddening, saddening, and down right disgusting. If the dogs had eaten a chicken, I could understand but they just killed them.

Though we’d like to rebuild our flock, MyPetChicken no longer supplies Blue Amerecauna eggs. And we still debate whether to let our chickens have access to greens and bugs, or pretend to coral them in an enclosure they can easily escape, or coral them and clip their wings. (Our problem is our lot is not level so the enclosure we built was tricky enough. Haven’t found a “how to” for fencing a hilly property.)

Lissa March 23rd, 2012

So sorry to hear about your loss! Dogs can be such a terrible danger. We have suggestions on our website for how to keep your flock safe from dogs. Maybe some of those ideas can help!

We do still carry Blue Ameraucana eggs (also black, wheaten, and lavender bantam).

Virginia Trembles March 23rd, 2012

Our 20 chickens are enclosed with a dog run that fully encircles chickenland. Feral (and otherwise) cats get into the yard but seem to be leaving the chickens (all full grown) alone and going after the mice that live on chicken feed. We have had a possum but he got in via the trees and was eating eggs. The dogs have only killed one chicken who got into the dog run, a particularly docile banty mllle flores who tried to meek out the dogs -sadly to no avail.

Sara Ewen March 23rd, 2012

Glad your girls were all safe. I live in a heavily populated coyote area with one family on the hill just to the north of our house and another family to the west of us and there is a messanger that goes between them regularly, using our long driveway to pass between families. He has stopped at a distance from our house and I’ve seen scat in front of the coop but he’s never been here at a time when we could see him. While we had a dog, the coyotes respected his markings and never got close to the house. I did have a hawk trying for my Muskovy but it never would have gotten him off the ground. At 13 pounds, Martin would have likely given the hawk a run for his money. The DH took a shot with his 12-gauge over its head and we haven’t seen him since.

Mary Ann March 23rd, 2012

Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed reading your stories too. It is definitely hard to lose chickens to predators.

Michelle – I felt the same way about the coyote as you did about the dogs- it wouldn’t have been so bad, if Wiley coyote had just taken 1 chicken for food, but instead, this coyote was trying to kill them all. He had already killed 4 and was attacking the 5th hen when I found him. Thankfully, she and the rest of her confused and scared flockmates were okay.

stacy March 24th, 2012

I live out of town about 6 miles on a state Rd and let my hens play all day long in our yard and in the feilds that surround my place. About this time last year we had big problem I would wake up to a horrified flock and missing after a few sleepless nights at around 4 am I heard the horrified squalls of a hen in trouble and graves my spot light there on the ground was best little brooders bleeding and in trouble..I run back into my house grab my gun and run back out to the chickens to see a 30+ pound bore raccoon ontop the nest box..with spot light fixed apoun the frozen racoon I shot him..and sadly the attacks did not stop..after three long sleepless weeks I wiped out two adult. Raccoons and 3 juveniles and lost 7 hens to them..after all the pin preparations and adopting a beagle who keeps a very vigilante eye over our flock did the killing stoped and its now been over a year since we lost a hen..

Lea Paul March 24th, 2012

I have seen many a fox and coyote where I live along with a few bobcat. But what broke my heart was a neighbors dog who got out of his fence, not once but numerous times. I awoke one morning about two months ago to find every hen, save one, dead inside their pen. When I checked on them the night before I never imagined anything could happen while they were safe on their roosts. The dog, a pit bull, had literally chewed thru the double strands of chicken wire and just went on a killing spree. One lone hen (whom I named Gloria after Gloria Gaynors “I Will Survive”) managed to survive despite injuries. I take nothing for granted now and am forever watching and waiting for it to come back. Since we did not catch it in the act we could not do anything with the dog. Nine hens and one rooster gone. They weren’t just egg layers they were my pets and I miss them.

Erica Inks March 25th, 2012

Your hen is beautiful glad she lived! You have more tolerance than me if that coyote would have came back to my house i would have blown it to pieces

Mary Ann March 25th, 2012

Stacy, So sorry to hear you lost so many hens to those raccoons, but am glad you’ve figured out a way to keep your flock safe now. I’m glad your beagle is more of a deterrent to predators that my dogs were in the predator attack at my home. I do think my dogs are somewhat of a deterrent (only 1 attack in 3 1/2 years), but that one coyote must have been pretty desperate.

Mary Ann March 25th, 2012

Lea, That’s so sad. A dog attack is terrible – dogs kill for sport and will keep killing till there are no more live chickens. The coyote in my story was doing the same thing. I’m glad Gloria made it. For a stronger run, try using hardware cloth (1/2″ squares) and make sure to also bury wire under the ground, surrounding the coop, in case that dog come back and decides to dig under it, when he can’t break through.

Dawn Buesing March 29th, 2012

I also live out in the country and have my chickens fenced in and locked up at night, but I am always out chasing coyotes off. Quite a few years ago I was awakened to a horrible noise out in my coop and ran out in the dark with a mini maglight and a fireplace poker to see what at the time I believed was a huge dog running off with a rooster. Waited outside on the roof of my house the next night and sure enough it came back for another meal. My boyfriend shot it and thats when we discovered it was a huge mountain lion! I laugh now at the thought of me and that fireplace poker.

Amanda March 29th, 2012

Just because a hawk can’t lift a chicken doesn’t mean it won’t attack. I free ranged my girls in the afternoon and the hawk pinned her to the ground and took its time tearing strips of meat off. I managed to stop it and healed her with lots of TLC during her recuperation… but still.

KathySadge March 29th, 2012

I’m so glad you saved your chicken! Thanks for posting this…. I now know I’m not the only crazy woman chasing after predators that get after flock (my own & my neighbors).

Mary Ann March 29th, 2012

You’re definitely not the only crazy woman who will take after a predator to save those poor chickens – sounds as if there are several of us 🙂

Red Hen April 10th, 2012

Building my run and coop right now. Tourist dogs who wander onto my land to harrass my cats or chickens will be shot. A shotgun is an essential part of rural chicken-keeping, always has been. 🙂

Mellissa April 25th, 2012

Our yard is fenced an the coop we are buiding will be within that area. However, over the weekend while we were sitting on the front porch we noticed that there were 3!! large hawks surveying our yard and they even flew so low overhead a few times I thought they were going to visit us on the porch!! Needless to say, when the coop gets finished it will have a top on it and when the chicken start getting let out into he fenced yard someone will have to be on the lookout for those darn hawks. I don’t worry so much about the larger hens (who curretly are only 6 weeks), I worry about all my Cochin Bantams. I also heard there is a bobcat in the area…never thought when we moved to Arizona last month (from Wisconsin) that we would run into this kind of thing!

Evan April 30th, 2012

I have read your losses, and I must say it IS very tragic to lose pets so dear. However, there is one good thing to learn from tragedies, experience. Julius Ceaser once said, ” Experience is the teacher of all things.” I do believe this quote has some merit. After losing many hens from an assortment of reasons I find myself heart-broken, but much smarter. I am sure that all who lose pets become more enlightened and now can help others from making the same mistake as well as ensuring other pets don’t meet the same fate. So please, don’t forget to share your unfortunate-gained knowledge with many to help spare them from being heart-broken. To teach others your experiences is one of the best ways to honor your lost.

Melissa May 9th, 2012

I just happened to look out the window to check the girls and saw a fox run across the yard with my sweet little Cleopatra in its mouth! I ran after it screaming and yelling, and by some miracle it dropped her. She ran to me (hysterical – both of us) and when I checked her, the only physical damage I can see is that most of her rump feathers are pulled out. I hope I’m doing the right thing: Kept her warm and hydrated and gave her some mealworms (which she ate). She seemed to want to go back with the others after a while. I’m keeping a close watch on her and she’s sitting on the nest. The fox came right up to the barn/garage door and snatched her. We have a fenced yard and the girls really like to be out in it. I guess they’ll be more confined from now on. If there is anything else I should be doing for her, I’d appreciate the advice.

gary dowler June 30th, 2012

you have to lock them up at night with a padlock a raccoon can twist knobs unlatch a door handle and tear off a vent grilles they have eight hours of darkness to do all of this. My solution to this was to purchase and install the electric woven fencing around the outside of the run and added a light to remind me that the fence was on just unhook the gate in the morning to feed and water and then reinstall just be sure you put the warning stickers on as some visitor want to touch the fence to make sure it’s on, they soon learm

gary dowler June 30th, 2012

just remember to check out the coop before you lock them up at night as some thing might be able to get past your defences and hide in the coop on one occasion before the electric fense I found a possum asleep in the nesting box so just check it out with a flashlight before tucking them up for the night. Just heard a howl some thing just found the fence also I have a camera to monitor the area just a cheap one from the big box store with infra red to see at night you will be amazed at what comes to visit.

Mary Ann August 1st, 2012

Melissa, One of my first Easter Eggers was named Cleopatra also (she had dark eyeliner as a chick). I hope your Cleopatra had a full recovery.. Here are some tips for fox-proofing your coop and run:

faith s. August 13th, 2012

Thanks for sharing your story. Hope you don’t mind me sharing mine! 🙂 I have also had coyote issues for about 3 years. It has taken the lives of 2 cats, 4 ducks and way to many chickens. Sad to say, but the attacks were in early morning or dusk, either right after they came out of the coop or just before they go up for the night. We have even had them (obviously very hungry) come out during the day!! My latest “attack” was by my neighbors’ pitbull yesterday. She got my baby girl blue brahma, and I thought two other black hens. One black hen came back at dusk and was ok! 🙂 The other one, not so lucky. Surprisingly enough, this morning, the other black hen showed up, super injured and limping. I’m hoping she will come around. I’m checking on home remedies for her injuries. Wish me luck

Kim March 19th, 2013

I have so many hawks/eagles/falcons that you’d think I’d loose a million hens. But the hawks/eagles/falcons only soar over my girls like they don’t exsist!! I haven’t lost one!! It’s amazing!!

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