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Chicken Predators


Raccoon:
Most attack on chickens at night are from the racoon as they are a nocturnal animal. With a raccoons attack you will notice blood, feather and pieces of chicken everywhere inside and outside the coop and will normally kill multiple birds. If they cannot get into the coop they will reach through the fence and pull the chicken out piece by piece. To prevent raccoons make sure he coop is locked up tight with latches that are difficult to open. A Motion-sensor strobe light is great for starling approaching raccoons. A top on the coop will also help as raccoons are excellent climbers. Discourage chickens from roosting near the edge of the fence were they can be easily grabbed. Raccoons are very persistent when there is something of interest and will go to great lengths to get what they desire. Nite Guards sold at Piedmont Farm and Garden is a solar powered one of a kind predator repellent that provides a powerful red flash that stops the raccoon.



Fox:
Most of the time a fox generally kills and remove the chicken carcass for safer eating elsewhere. Usually the only sign of a fox raid is scattered feathers. A fox is a very intelligent predator that will find any cracks,openings or weak points in a chicken run or coop. Fox are diggers so to keep them out of the coop by running a few feet of wire outwards from the pen or set the bottom of the fence at least 18 inch.below the ground to kept them from digging in. Fox can jump and climb so use a strong fence at least 6 ft. or taller or has a top on it. Nite Guards sold at Piedmont Farm and Garden is a solar powered one of a kind predator repellent that provides a powerful red flash that stops the fox.


Coyote:
Most of the time coyotes generally kill and remove the chicken carcass for safer eating elsewhere but sometimes they will just kill them and not eat them. Other than seeing feathers, you may also see excess blood as the chicken was dragged away. Coyotes are great diggers so to keep them out of the coop by running a few feet of wire outwards from the pen or set the bottom of the fence at least 14 inch.below the ground to kept them from digging in. Coyotes usually prefer to hunt at night but will attack chicken in the daylight. Coyotes can jump up to 4 ft high so be sure your fence is 5 ft. or taller or has a top on it. A Motion-sensor strobe light and motion-sensor sprinklers are great for starling approaching coyotes. Nite Guards sold at Piedmont Farm and Garden is a solar powered one of a kind predator repellent that provides a powerful red flash that stops the coyotes.



Opossums:
The Opossums is mainly a nest robber of the eggs that are a delicacy to them and also kill baby chicks. Opossums do kill chickens for food and generally by bites on the neck and only eat a part of it chickens. The chicken will be mauled over and have their abdomen eaten and will leave the uneaten part behind. Nite Guards sold at Piedmont Farm and Garden is a solar powered one of a kind predator repellent that provides a powerful red flash that stops the opossums.



Weasels:
Weasels generally do not eat the chickens instead, they kill and leave them in the coop. Best sign of a weasel attack is chicken carcasses with intestines pull out of the carcasses and ripped of heads that are neatly piled up. One of the best ways to kept out a weasels is to make sure there are no openings in the coop larger than 7/8 inch and built the the coop with a floor. 1/2 inch hardware cloth is the best for building a weasel free coop and make sure the complete coop is enclosed. If a good coop can not be built or you have free-ranging chickens lock them up at night.



Skunks:
Most of the time skunks will kill young chicken and eat eggs. If a skunk kills a chicken it will attack the head and neck and they will usually tear out the throat and neck area to kill the bird and then eat what they need. Secure a 12 to 24 inch hardware cloth on the bottom of the coop on all sides to help keep a skunk out. Since the skunks go out at night it is hard to catch then in the act. Nite Guards sold at Piedmont Farm and Garden is a solar powered one of a kind predator repellent that provides a powerful red flash that stops the skunks.


Dog:

Dogs will usually kill but not eat the chicken.



Cat:
If a lot of smaller chicks are missing it could be a cat.



Bobcats:
Bobcats leave claw marks on the neck,shoulder and backs of the chickens and usually start eating around the ribs and shoulders of the bird. They often will drag the chicken around leaving it covered with dirt. A bobcat can jump very high so use a very tall stroung fench with a top on it. Nite Guards sold at Piedmont Farm and Garden is a solar powered one of a kind predator repellent that provides a powerful red flash that stops the bobcat.




Snakes:
The main trouble with a snake is they will eat eggs and baby chick. Unlike a skunk that will leave behind egg shells the snake will eat the whole egg.




Owls:
The Owl usually attack at night and will carry off the whole bird. Most of the time owls will only eat the head and neck so you’ll find the chicken’s body nearby. Nite Guards sold at Piedmont Farm and Garden is a solar powered one of a kind predator repellent that provides a powerful red flash that stops the owl..




Hawks:
Hawks don't leave much of a trace so the best way to determine if a hawk is after your chickens is to keep out a close eye out. Most of the time they will only attack during daylight hours.





Chicken Diseases:


Avian influenza also called Bird flu virus
Avian influenza is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses. These influenza A viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide get flu A infections in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from flu infections. However, avian influenza is very contagious among birds and some of these viruses can make certain domesticated bird species, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.

Infected birds can shed influenza virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated secretions or excretions or with surfaces that are contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds. Domesticated birds may become infected with avian influenza virus through direct contact with infected waterfowl or other infected poultry, or through contact with surfaces (such as dirt or cages) or materials (such as water or feed) that have been contaminated with the virus.

Infection with avian influenza viruses in domestic poultry causes two main forms of disease that are distinguished by low and high extremes of virulence. The "low pathogenic" form may go undetected and usually causes only mild symptoms (such as ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production). However, the highly pathogenic form spreads more rapidly through flocks of poultry. This form may cause disease that affects multiple internal organs and has a mortality rate that can reach 90-100% often within 48 hours.



Blackhead (Histomoniasis, Enterohepatitis)

A protozoan parasite of turkeys, and occasionally chickens, pheasants and game birds that acts together with facultative bacteria to produce the condition of Blackhead. The parasite is ingested in the ova of Heterakis worms or as larvae in earthworms. The life history of the Heterakisworms is similar to that of the common roundworm. The eggs are produced in the ceca and pass in the feces. They reach the infective form in about two weeks. In cool weather, this may take longer. The eggs are very resistant to environmental conditions and will remain viable for long periods. Since the worm itself produces no observable damage and the eggs live for long periods, it is advisable and necessary to keep chickens and turkeys separated to prevent spread of blackhead. This disease affects the large intestine, then attacks the liver.

Signs:

  • Depression.
  • Inappetance.
  • Poor growth.
  • Birds develop foamy yellow diarrhoea and sit huddled up ( Any sulphur coloured foamy droppings should be considered as blackhead, even if the bird is not showing any other signs of the disease)
  • Cyanosis of head.
  • Blood in faeces (chickens).
  • Progressive depression and emaciation.
  • The birds can be so ill, that their wattle and comb goes blue (thus the name blackhead)

Prevention:

Good sanitation, avoid mixing species, concrete floors. Regular worming to help control the intermediate hosts.


Botulism

A condition of chickens, turkeys, ducks and other waterfowl occurring worldwide and caused by a bacterial toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum mainly types A / C. The toxin is produced in decaying animal (usually carcases) and plant waste, and toxin-containing material (pond-mud, carcases, maggots) is consumed by the birds.

Signs:
* Weakness
* Progressive flaccid paralysis of the legs, wings and neck
( when neck is affected the head hangs limp, referred to as "limberneck" )
* Loose feathers that are pulled out easily.
* Dull partly closed eyes.

Prevention:
Preventing access to toxin, suspect food and stagnant ponds, especially in hot weather. The single most important measure is careful pick-up and removal of all dead birds on a daily basis.

Treatment:
Remove source of toxin, supportive treatment if justifiable, antibiotics



Newcastle Disease

There are three forms of Newcastle disease -- mildly pathogenic (lentogenic), moderately pathogenic (mesogenic) and highly pathogenic (velogenic). Newcastle disease is characterized by a sudden onset of clinical signs which include hoarse chirps (in chicks), watery discharge from nostrils, labored breathing (gasping), facial swelling, paralysis, trembling, and twisting of the neck (sign of central nervous system involvement). Mortality ranges from 10 to 80 percent depending on the pathogenicity. In adult laying birds, symptoms can include decreased feed and water consumption and a dramatic drop in egg production.

Transmission:
The Newcastle virus can be transmitted short distances by the airborne route or introduced on contaminated shoes, caretakers, feed deliverers, visitors, tires, dirty equipment, feed sacks, crates, and wild birds. Newcastle virus can be passed in the egg, but Newcastle-infected embryos die before hatching. In live birds, the virus is shed in body fluids, secretions, excreta, and breath.

Treatment:
There is no specific treatment for Newcastle disease. Antibiotics can be given for 3-5 days to prevent secondary bacterial infections (particularly E. coli ). For chicks, increasing the brooding temperature 5°F may help reduce losses.

Prevention:
Prevention programs should include vaccination, good sanitation, and implementation of a comprehensive biosecurity program.




Fowl Pox

Chicken pox (not to be confused with chicken pox in humans; the human disease does not affect poultry and vice versa), sore head, avian diphtheria, bird pox. Most poultry chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, psittacine, and ratites -- of all ages are susceptible.

Signs:
There are two forms of fowl pox. The dry form is characterized by raised, wart-like lesions on unfeathered areas (head, legs, vent, etc.). The lesions heal in about 2 weeks. If the scab is removed before healing is complete, the surface beneath is raw and bleeding. Unthriftiness and retarded growth are typical symptoms of fowl pox. In laying hens, infection results in a transient decline in egg production. In the wet form there are canker-like lesions in the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and trachea. The wet form may cause respiratory distress by obstructing the upper air passages. Chickens may be affected with either or both forms of fowl pox at one time.

Treatment:
No treatment is available. However, fowl pox is relatively slow-spreading. Thus, it is possible to vaccinate to stop an outbreak. The wing-web vaccination method is used for chickens and the thigh-stick method for turkeys older than 8 weeks.

Prevention:
Fowl pox outbreaks in poultry confined to houses can be controlled by spraying to kill mosquitos. However, if fowl pox is endemic in the area, vaccination is recommended. Do not vaccinate unless the disease becomes a problem on a farm or in the area. Refer to the publication PS-36 (Vaccination of Small Poultry Flocks) for more information on fowl pox vaccinations