Skunks as poultry predators

We will see a skunk occasionally waddling across a pasture hurrying to get across before it is seen or snatched by something, and we know they take shelter in the culvert pipe when it is dry, but we have not ever had one lodging in the barn until recently.

When we had poultry losses last summer (because in the heat of the summer evening I decided not to close up the little chicken door in the coop),  our losses either a) disappeared with no sign of a struggle, or b)  feathers strewn showing signs of a struggle in the coop and a headless body laying inside.  Someone visiting us said the skunks will decapitate to suck the blood of the poultry victim. In these cases, there was never any blood anywhere, amazingly.  So maybe that is true. Even though I did not close the little coop door, I did take off the ramp that hooks onto the lip of the doorway thinking that nothing could climb up that high to get in, but I was wrong about that.

Our skunk visitor in the barn found some leftover lengths of guttering from when the barn was built to hide in. We had just stashed it out of the way.  Once I got the skunk scared and running out of the barn I was able to prop the gutter on end to remove that hiding place.    We are careful not to have animal food exposed (we keep food in their bags and stored in old empty  leaky water troughs not good for water anymore, that so far nothing has gotten access to).  And I had thought all hiding places were eliminated, and now they are for sure.

While the skunk was in the barn it feasted on rabbit; We found a couple of mostly clean leg bones inside the gutter nest.  I don’t care to know what happened to the rest. 

So if you have a skunk problem, eliminate any access to any animal food and water if you can, including your outdoor dogs and cats.  We also  keep the chicken’s food and water closed up with the chickens at night. The alpacas food bins are mounted high up on the chain link fence in the barn, and the water is in a tall container. Here is a very helpful link if you have predator problems.

http://co.el-dorado.ca.us/ag/wildlife/skunks.html

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