Country Living Series

Friday, June 27, 2014

Attack of the killer chickens

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the barn pitching hay when one of the hens darted forward at something. Whatever it was must have disappeared since she stared intently for a moment or two, then walked away.

A few minutes later another hen darted forward... and this time she snatched up what looked like a mole.


She proceeded to bash the poor little thing against the ground, then pecked at it viciously.



In moments it was quite dead... and then she ate it.


Chickens are far more carnivorous than we give them credit for. We all know they eat grubs and worms and other things they find. But a small mammal? That one surprised me.

30 comments:

  1. Throw a snake in there... they love em.

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    1. Mine definitely go after snakes. As a gang. They circle around it, and take turns pecking. It's sort of freaky to see.

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    2. i once watched a very young rooster descend upon a baby copperhead and swallow it with relish. i was a child and i was astonished.
      chickens; God's answer to snakes.

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    3. Folks....chickens are dinosaurs, directly descended from Tyranosaurus rex. They are just doing what comes naturally! Note the feathers, scales on the legs, the claws, egg-laying, the beak, the beady eyes,...all classic features of T.rex. Retired Geology Instructor,

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    4. sorry this was the premise for Jurassic park , but this has no science behind it , funny though.

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  2. Great triple duty critters! They kill varmints, make eggs and give meat.
    Can't beat that with a stick.
    Plus, they make great story and photo subjects.
    Yay chickens!

    A. McSp

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  3. They will eat frogs, snakes, voles, mice, chicks (why you always keep little ones away from the adults) & may even cannibalize each other under certain conditions. Buckeyes are known for being good mousers We have one Egger who will sit patiently by a gopher hole waiting for the little bugger to pop out of the hole. Her 'kill' rate isn't all that good, but she does let you know where the active gophers are.

    Like you said, chickens can be quite carnivorous. By the way, what breed is that hen? Her earlobes look white, so not an Australorp.... is she a Minorca?

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  4. Here is another little creature they will eat. Young, newborn kittens. I'm sure some people are aware of this, others are not. The kitties that I have here on my farm are all neutered, spayed, etc., so we don't have that issue to worry about with our chickens. However I have witnessed it at another farm I was visiting for the first time. Not a fun thing and it seemed like the mother cat must had left the babies for a moment unattended. I saw a group of chickens in a cubby area in the barn and they were onto something. At that same time I could hear kittens crying and asked the owner where they were and she said she also could hear them too. We quickly inspected what the chickens were doing we soon found out what they had! They had killed three of the little ones and the other two were injured beyond help. Made my heart sad. The woman took the other two in, but said they later died. That was a learning experience and one I wished I hadn't seen. I have chickens and I know they'll get frogs, mice and just about anything they're able to, but I had never thought about kittens that were small. So, if you got babies out there, better keep them where the chickens can't get to them.

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  5. Yikes!

    I knew chickens could be carnivorous, but predatory? Yow.

    They can catch and eat frogs and mice?! And moles? Seriously?

    Gads. I never knew that.

    Just Me

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  6. This is just a silly story, but my husband won't eat any eggs, if he knows the hens have done in a mouse! It takes him a few weeks before he will have an egg for his breakfast. They are now out on summer pasture, so I am sure they are eating all sorts of 'goodies'.

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    1. i wonder if your husband is right. i am terribly allergic to mice. i wonder if anything could possibly come through. as when milk is off taste if a milking animal eats onions.

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    2. I couldn't tell you any of that, but I know what ate when I nursed my children went into the milk. So maybe?! But with hubby I think it was mostly 'all in his head'. He hates mice to begin with.

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  7. lol last summer one of our cats was mugged by a hen for the mouse he had caught , that was the first time i saw a cat look astounded .

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  8. I had a small mouse in my coop once and the chickens went crazy for it. They devoured it in a few seconds. I had no idea they would eat mice.

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    1. I've had the same thing happen. Now if I catch a mouse in a trap in the feed area of the chicken barn I empty the trap for the hens. It's extra protein. But sure is startling the first time you witness hens hunting!

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  9. It has blown my mind, seeing how opportunistic eaters chickens are. We have a corn snake as a pet, and determining when the snake wants to eat is a scientific(or accurate) process, so occasionally I am left with a mouse that I have idea what to do with. My kids told me I should give it to the chickens...we have a friend with chickens, and I guess the girls had previously seen the chickens acting as predators.

    Well, I figured what the heck, and tossed in the mouse. I'm glad the poor guy was already dead, because what those chickens did to that mouse shouldn't happen to anyone.

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  10. Folks.... chickens are dinosaurs, directly descended from T. rex! They are just doing what comes naturally! If you keep up on the science, feathers, scales on the legs, the claws, egg-laying, the beak, the beady eye, killer and scavenger....classic dinosaur!!!! Former Geology Professor

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  11. My 6 girls managed to kill a young possum with help from my wife's Yorkie....the chickens did most of the work.

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  12. Raptor hens! They used to be dinosaurs...

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  13. My hens love 'meat on the paw'. Anything that crawls is fair game to them. It is really amazing what they can see and find just wandering and scratching around the yard.

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  14. People don't realize that chickens are true omnivores, not just carnivorous herbivores. If you value it, keep it away from the chickens.

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  15. Somewhere I have read they are called land sharks. I decided that it fit and call ours that especially when I take them scrap food treats.

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  16. I had no idea about chickens "hunting" either, until the day I saw 3 chase down a cat, and they took his just caught mouse! Then they proceeded to peck it to death, and I'm sure they ate it, but I had left the scene. I always thought the cats were torturous in their hunting/killing, until I saw the hens!

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  17. I have White Wyandottes and New Hampshire Reds, all of which eat anything that moves...or doesn't move fast enough, anyway. They make the yellow Lab and the three cats move out of their way or risk death. They will chase down a cat that is bringing home the kill. I've been watching for the baby robins, as I fear they will eat them, too. Anything left by the cats is gobbled up by the feathered Velociraptors. Toes, calves, anything exposed is pecked. I dump the yellow jacket traps and the girls gobble them up. Watched a NH red catch one of the stingers on the fly, then have to run away when the others tried to take it from her.
    Our place in Idaho has lots of black snakes, but won't for long, hahahahaha. We are fine with it, as we have noticed a definite increase in eggs and in the size of the all ready large eggs when the girls free range. As of yesterday, ours are back in the pen, until they make the move to ID. They are fun to watch but make messes prospective buyers may not appreciate. Plus, too many will be wearing sandals this time of year.
    sidetracksusie

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  18. In stunned silence, I read these comments and quietly undergo a reassessment of whether I want chickens on my farm.

    Now I understand better the one of the distinctions on the label when I buy the expensive chicken at the market - "All vegetarian diet."

    Chickens as raptors. Hmmmm. Makes a a modicum of sense. The talon-like feet, the sharp beak, the angry eyes. I never thought of that before.

    Just Me

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  19. An unfortunate mouse fell into a plastic bin in our barn. We retrieved the two barn cats. They just stared at the mouse moving around the bottom of the bin. One of the kids dropped in a chicken. She instantly killed the mouse and took off with it. We didn't know, either, before we moved to the farm, that chickens eat small mammals.

    We have to laugh when we see eggs advertised as "Hens Fed an all Vegetarian Diet" in the store. They may be FED an all vegetarian diet but they probably don't EAT an all vegetarian diet! I'm sure any mouse doesn't stand a chance in those chicken pens! Ha, ha.

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  20. You should see what happens when you throw a snake in the chicken coop. Snake never stood a chance

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  21. Yup!! Our hens eat anything that is unlucky enough to cross their paths!! I've personally seen them eat frogs, mice, and voles. We are invaded by stink bugs every year and when the weather warms up, they crawl out of their hiding places by the 100s. I grab the vacuum cleaner and suck them up, then dump the contents in the yard for the chickens. Before I can even get out of the way, the chickens have swooped in and are gobbling them up!!

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