We've lost another chicken or two over the last couple of days. The kids do most of the feeding, watering, and egg collecting, so they usually have the most current news of anything going on. They discovered a place where a critter had either reached into a chicken pen and pulled out a hen or had gone into the pen to grab one. Instead of telling us the kids tried to block the opening with a lid from a plastic storage bin propped into place with a 2x4. The fix was fairly secure and probably would have worked for a while. I found out we had a predator when I saw feathers scattered over a 10'x20' area in the yard. The kids have new instructions to let us know immediately if they see anything unusual.
I put out the gigantic live-catch trap last night, baited with a raw chicken leg. The leg was in a pack purchased long ago and stuck in the freezer and it has come open so the leg was somewhat freezer burned. I hope the predator doesn't mind the freezer burn but if it goes for the bait it won't have long to worry about it.
The kids also noted a drop-off in egg production from one pen. The last time that happened we found a large rat snake living under the big plastic garbage can that is the combination shelter/laying spot for those birds. After I killed the snake the egg production went back to normal. I either have another snake or the same critter that stole the birds has been stealing eggs as well.
I'll have to take care of this problem. I've got a craving for a cheese omelet and I don't want to share with anything on four feet or no feet.
9 hours ago