So do minks eat chickens?
Quick answer yes, sad side to it is catching the mink attacking the chickens.
What are ways to prevent it?
Keep reading as we tell you our story, what we’ve learned, and how it can help you…
If you have any experience with chickens or planning on getting involved with them, you’ve done your research and know that predators are a concern.
It is also one of those things you think you are good until a predator that you never thought about becomes an issue… that was the case for us.
We moved from an area that the predators you had to worry about were neighbour’s and or stray cats/dogs. That was about it. So sure we were pretty spoiled when it came to that aspect of backyard chickens. At least we were for almost 6 years.
Fast Forward to June of 2017 and our dream finally came true.
If you haven’t read our about page the quick version of it goes something like this: my aunt and uncle moved into a senior style apartment closer to their oldest son. To keep the house in the family we struck up a deal.
By deal… we got a good deal on it and it got to stay in the family… so a win-win.
This finally provided us with almost 5 acres of land. Complete heaven and one step closer to our homesteading goal.
Which consists of being more sustainable and self-reliant.
Sure with the property, there is a little work needing to be done and a pond needing to be restocked. All on our todo list for the next few years. As Doug from Off Grid with Doug and Stacy puts it, “inch by inch makes it a cinch, a yard by yard makes it hard”. So we are taking it all an inch by inch in our goal setting.
Back onto point:
- Premier1 electric poultry netting
- Our chicken coop/pen (metal and tarped/roofed till we got our mobile coop built)
- Supplies (water, feeders, etc.)
We thought we were good to go.
The chicken coop and area was solid from any predators like:
- Cats and dogs
All the predators we knew of that we saw or may be in the area.
Never once did the thought of mink or the mink family come into play for us. We never saw them and it never crossed our minds that they;
- Wouldn’t get shocked by the fence
- Could fit through the small holes on the coop
Our mink attacking chickens encounter
Or should I say my encounter.
I had waited a bit later to go out and close the door on the coop.
This was only because I was “training” if one could even train a duck to do anything that doesn’t benefit the duck (it’s great if they see a reward for it, that’s another story lol), to go into the coop themselves instead of me chasing them around to get them in.
Well, our oldest heard a bunch of banging out there and I went out with a flashlight (it was just starting to get dark) and the 22.
Let me say this before I continue if shooting animals or killing animals in any way Ts you off this post is probably not for you.
At that moment as I stepped over the electric fence (still on mind you) were 5 hens huddled up against it and the 4 ducks along with 4 more hens up at the other end on the same side… were totally freaked out.
Out rolls a chicken with a ferret thing chasing after it (after this moment I realized it was a mink)… of which then it tried pulling her through the fence.
I am a pretty dang good shot, but at that moment trying to hold a flashlight in your mouth and close the chamber so the 22 would pull a bullet up plus the safety off…
… there is a lot of multitasking to do while your adrenaline is up.
Well, long story short I got a shot off and it flinched.
That is when I realized I forgot that dear old husband (the man that doesn’t deal well with snakes) put in two snake bullets, bird shots, before the regular 22s because we had a very aggressive northeastern water snake issue around the pond that we were determined to get.
If I had only remembered that, our – do minks eat chickens story would end pretty quickly, as being barely three feet away that flinch I saw would have been a good shot with a regular 22 bullet.
So as I’m fidgeting with getting the clip out and the other birdshot out, as I remembered, I saw that the dang thing could fit through the 1.5×1.5 squares (it had run back into the coop through the door) out the backside.
We spent the rest of the night moving the remaining chickens and 4 ducks out of that area over to a rabbit run we had and butted it up against the old chicken coop (only held 4 chickens) that we converted into our buck pen (rabbit) right outside our kitchen window.
Let’s just say for the past week that mink kept trying to come back and we always missed trying to get it. We even used the chickens that didn’t make it as bait and it was able to outmanoeuvre the claw traps.
We made homemade weasel boxes and put claw traps under some and rat traps under others. From research rat traps work.
As soon as we did that and it realized it couldn’t outsmart to get to the bait, we haven’t seen it in the late evening as the sun is going down.
Now we do know that it’s still around due to poop sightings over close to that area. Which was also a sign before the attack, we just didn’t know that the unknown poop we saw was mink poop. Now we do.
From our research, we also learned that they can fit into 1.5inch squares or holes very easily.
The sad part is that minks 99% of the time kill for sport till all is dead and that was the goal of this one but lucked out.
So we lost our rooster and 8 other hens. It sucks not having a rooster, especially Moonie… he was the best. There were signs that he put up a good fight.
The hen that was getting pulled through the fence we had to put down, it hadn’t fully killed her yet. Our one male duck (even though he was going to the freezer deserved better) who I thought would just be blind could be saved… couldn’t… the injury must have done something to his mouth to where he couldn’t open it or close it even going into the motions of drinking.
Our flock now will be over on the side of the property at all times where the pond isn’t. The only time they will be over at the pond/garden side of the property is when we let them free range and we are outside.
So far knock on wood when this elusive mink wants to come on the property it isn’t coming over to this side where the house is. I chalk this up to the fact that we go out our one door a lot to let our dog out… more than our other side door that takes you out to the garden.
The mink almost made me give up chickens
It broke my heart losing some of our flock the way it happened. It especially hit us hard losing our rooster.
We know that living on a homestead death happens. We butcher our own livestock, sell, etc. That doesn’t make the death process easier. But when we do it we respect the animal, when it happens due to not in our control it’s a totally different ball game and experience.
There is always a silver lining.
The following morning I was greeted by a big surprise… a good one at that.
We had thought that it had gotten two of the Golden-Laced Wyandottes that we got as addition earlier in the year… boy was we wrong… the moment I saw Egypt out by the one tree from where the chickens were that feeling of not wanting to do chickens any more went away.
I hadn’t been so happy to see a chicken before in my whole life… and we are pretty happy seeing our chickens in the morning when we let them out.
That is when I knew we needed to utilize our blog to share our story and hopefully help others either… prevent an attack… know what to look for… and possibly find an answer to what may have attacked their chickens.
Mink attacking chickens preventative
So to help with preventing any further mink attacks or to help others prevent them… as I don’t think there will ever be a way to eliminate them… here are a few tips
- Don’t rely on an electric poultry netting keeping them out. After talking to Premier1 customer service there are a few animals who just do not weigh enough and are insulated enough by fur that can fit through the squares without getting shocked.
- Close up any gaps that are an inch opening. This includes any shapes… circle, square, rectangle, etc. I know our research said 1.5inches but it is better to be overkill than not.
- For a quick fix on the openings, you can do a couple of layers of chicken wire. Which is what we did and will gradually replace it by 1/2inch hardware cloth.
- Close up any floor/ground gaps… if you are using a permanent coop or a tractor that sits on the ground do not rely on cinder blocks or a solid floor to keep them out… remember it just takes a small opening and they will utilize it.
- When in doubt utilize a skirt. Now there are recommendations out there that you only need a foot away from your coop or permanent run fencing… for us, the chicken wire was 2 feet and we used the full length give or take ½ foot that we tucked under the coop for safe measures.
- Read up on the weasel family… this includes minks, fishers, and any of the rest of the Mustelids family. It is rare that they leave tracks, so look up what their poop looks like for those that are in your area. Then keep an eye out for this when you are tending to your chickens… this will tell you if they are around that area and if you will need to set some traps or be more watchful of the flock.
We hope that some of these measures and our story from our experience with a mink attacking chickens can help to protect your flock.
If you have had an attack and unsure what it was or are wondering could it of been one of the mustelids family members there are a few signs… only the head will be gone, 99% of the time the birds will just be killed like there was no reason, there will be wounds on the back of the neck areas…
… also if you have any surviving birds keep an eye out because they do come back to finish the killing spree.
… we moved ours so it tricked it into thinking after it got the bait we had there were no more live birds.
If you’ve had an experience with something like this leave it in the comments below. We all can learn from each other’s so that we may better protect our flock.
Here is to the safety of your flock.
JK Wardell & Homestead Family