Feathers are all over the place in the pasture today. That would be normal if it was dry out, because molting birds take dirt baths in the sand and the loose feathers come out. But molting feathers are dull looking, faded. These are not, and they are also in the grass.
This is how chicken prints look in the mud:
And these are not chicken prints:
Definitely not chicken footprints.
Something has been in the chicken pen, something with medium weight dog-sized pads and claws that don't retract.
It rained at about 9:30 this morning,
which meant that in order for dry chicken feathers to be located in the entrance to the coop, it had to have been killed between then and 1:30 pm, when I went out to pick eggs.
We've had two predators attack chickens during the day: foxes and fisher cats. Foxes tend to take bites out of the skin trying to take down a chicken and leave carcasses or parts behind.
This looks like a suffocation kill, no blood, no bird, but feathers everywhere. It is the second this week. Maybe a fisher, but more likely someone's dog.
I've asked Dan to set a live-catch trap near where I think the predator is getting through the fence. Hopefully, we can stop this before I have no laying hens left.
Of course, if it is the neighbors' dog, there is an awkward conversation looming in my future.