Bobcats

Chicken Predators in Kansas: Bobcats & Domestic Cats

Bobcats occasionally take a fancy to fresh chicken, particularly if there is a free-range flock in the vicinity that presents an easy opportunity. However, they can jump with considerable ease and may attack a penned flock if they feel secure. Bobcats only take what they intend to eat, but they do cache food and may take multiple chickens within a short period of time. They prefer larger chickens that will satisfy their appetite versus chicks and very young pullets.

If a bobcat has visited your flock, you likely won’t see much of anything except the fact that one or more chickens have vanished. At most, you will see a sparse trail of feathers leading away from the scene. In the rare event that you find where the bobcat ate its prey, you will likely see small clumps of feathers with chewed-up quills. Cached chickens will be partially buried in grass, twigs, and other debris.

A good first step to protecting your chickens from bobcats is to keep them penned within electric netting. However, if a bobcat happens to learn how to jump the fence without getting shocked, you will need to add a second layer of electric netting around the first with a gap of one or two feet between the two fences. This extra width makes it harder for the bobcat to make the jump, and eventually he will become discouraged and leave in search of easier prey.

Domestic Cats

Cats often enjoy eating chicken just as much as wildlife does. They prefer easy-to-catch young chicks rather than full-grown chickens. Whenever possible, cats will carry off several chicks in rapid succession.

Cats typically carry their catches away to eat elsewhere. Unless you stumble across the preferred dining location of your local predatory cat, you may not see any evidence of what happened other than missing chicks. Cats generally eat the majority of a small chick, leaving only the feet and perhaps the head and wings. If a somewhat older chick is taken, there will usually be gnawed bones and pieces of skin with feathers attached left behind.

Electric poultry netting is an effective way to keep cats from eating chickens. Kittens can be trained to leave larger chickens alone simply by introducing them to full-grown birds in a supervised setting. The chickens will chase away smaller kittens, who will learn a valuable lesson from the experience. (Stay close at hand to save the kitten from actual bullying.) However, no cat should have unsupervised access to a brooder full of chicks. Panels from a wire dog crate make an excellent lid for preventing accidents.