Killing a Possum on the Homestead

      51 Comments on Killing a Possum on the Homestead
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We had to kill a possum in our hen house this year.

Homesteading Isn’t All Fun & Games

If you’ve been following along on my homesteading and self sufficiency journey, you already know that I kill chickens, ducks, and turkeys for our table. It isn’t a pretty sight and I don’t enjoy doing it. However, I feel much better about eating the poultry I raise and butcher humanely than I do about buying meat from the grocery store.

Part of homesteading involves protecting my flock from predators. We don’t have bear, bobcats, and wolves to contend with but raccoon, possum, and hawks can be devastating to a flock. I found out the hard way that a possum can wipe out an entire flock in one evening. Fortunately I was able to stop the carnage before all of my birds were dead, but I lost 26 chickens in September of 2012 and since then I’ve had very little sympathy for the plight of the hungry possum.

Egg Eating Can Lead to Chicken Eating

When I opened the coop on a 30 degree day last week to let in the fresh air, little did I know an unwelcome guest would drop by. After I closed the door in the afternoon I found a possum eating the eggs. Egg eating is destructive enough, but this critter would have soon decided that some fresh chicken is even tastier. Once they have found an easy meal you’re not going to get rid of them. Setting a live trap and releasing miles away will only cause problems for folks living there. It could also be a sentence to death by starvation for the creature. I didn’t have time to go in the house for the pellet gun. So I grabbed a shovel.

Sometimes You Just Have to Do the Dirty Work

You can call me cruel and berate me for choosing to bludgeon a possum to death for the misdemeanor of eating eggs. I understand and at one time I might have agreed.Β  I did what I had to do to protect my flock from a known predator. If possum were on the endangered species list, I would have found another way.

I killed him as quickly as I could and stood a few minutes, trying to get my shaking hands under control. Thoughts poured through my head. Am I up to this life that I’ve chosen? Should I get rid of the chickens and become a vegetarian? Why did that stupid possum have to make me do this?!

I think that I have proven to myself, over and over, that I am up to this homesteading life. And no, I don’t want to get rid of my chickens. But I think I need a better system in place for keeping the predators out of the chicken coop. Because I don’t want to be faced with killing another possum anytime soon.

Have you ever had to kill a predator on your homestead?

Note: Before you kill a predator, check to see what your local laws allow. Don’t kill endangered species!

 


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51 comments on “Killing a Possum on the Homestead

  1. Pingback: Possum in the Hen House

  2. Lisa Floden

    I too have resorted to the shovel. The possum was in the hen’s closed up run and my duck was sleeping on the ground in the run. I love my duck, my son loves my duck… It was especially hard because the roof on the run prevented me from making a good swing. It was horrible but I love my chickens. Originally I had grabbed a gun but put it down as I live in a residential area and was afraid to wake anyone. We do what we have to do. Sometimes we surprise ourselves.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Lisa,
      Ugh…how awful! We have a subdivision right across the road, so I hate to make too much noise too. The pellet gun at point blank range works, but it was in the house.

      Good for you for protecting your flock! Glad you got the job done and surprised yourself! You go girl πŸ™‚

      Reply
  3. Ellen C

    I certainly don’t fault you for protecting the flock. I hope that I can muster the huevos to dispatch a predator when the time comes. In my area, ground squirrels are very destructive and make gardening nearly impossible if not trapped. I use a ‘black hole’ to kill them and offer them up at the sacrificial rock in a nearby field for the coyotes and vultures. In just a matter of a couple of months in spring/summer, I can get over 100 of the little suckers. It isn’t always easy – some years I don’t start trapping until I see the destruction they can do and then I get mad and get to work. They also like to steal eggs but with the new chicken house my husband built, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Come to think of it, it’s time to start trapping again!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Ellen,
      Oh, those ground squirrels are so destructive…and their population can go crazy so quickly! We have problems with chipmunks. Our last cat was very good at catching them and we didn’t have problems while he was alive. Our new kitty likes to play with them and ends up letting them go! She is a very good mouser though!

      Best wishes!

      Reply
  4. mradam79Adam

    We have had to kill several predators in order to protect our birds. Many many possums, 2 raccoons and 2 skunks. The skunks were kinda ‘difficult’ to dispose of. They say a 22lr to the head dispatches them quickly with no spray. I hit both in the head, and they both sprayed.

    Sometimes it seems crazy all we have to do to protect our way of life. But it is SO worth it!

    Great site! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Adam,
      I’m so glad that I haven’t had to kill a skunk yet…hoping that stays the same. πŸ˜‰

      I agree completely…it it all worth it! Thanks so much for stopping by and yes, I don’t apologize for doing what needs to be done!

      Thanks, Adam! Glad to have you here!

      Reply
  5. sunny crips

    Lisa I caught your preserving food seminar on the survival program. Excellent job thanks .oven canning flour solves a big problem of bugs and webs for me .

    My 96 yr old friend said his mom used to catch possums and put them in a barrel, feed them garbage for 2 weeks then kill em, cook em and eat em!!!! He says they are ” right good eattin” LOL. The kitchen scraps they eat sweeten the meat. That’s from an old North Carolina farmer.
    We have fence and screen over the top of our coops. Had a few snakes in the nests and under the rabbit cages. Farmer Phil shoots them for me cuz I AM a SNAKEAPHOB!!!! Life on he farm is good

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Sunny,
      Thanks so much for listening to my presentation on The Survival Summit! I’m honored. πŸ™‚

      I wanted to salvage the meat from the possums, but my hubby is completely against the idea, lol! He didn’t grow up ‘in the hills’ like I did. πŸ˜‰ I can imagine that feeding a possum your kitchen scraps would make it taste better!

      I’m sure that you have a lot more problems with snakes in North Carolina that we do here in Northern Illinois. Maybe the snow isn’t so bad after all, ha!

      Thanks again for stopping by and reading my rantings! Have a great weekend and enjoy the rest of the summit! The guys are planning to call me with some follow up questions about my presentation. Hopefully I can keep it short and sweet. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. KathyB.

    Yes, we have had to kill many possums and raccoons. They really are very good at killing our flocks and spreading disease, and are dangerous to pets too. We find we simply have to confine all our poultry at night and learned the hard way to make sure any perches and nest boxes in the coops and pens are out of the reach of raccoons outside the pen . We have had several chickens plucked of their flesh and even their heads because a raccoon could reach them while they perched at night. That is a horrible sight to see when you go to gather eggs in the morning.

    As for the big predators, well, when a pack of coyotes decide they’re going to break down your duck pen door and eat the ducks or crawl through your fences and eat your lambs, they do, and have.. We try to think about how predators will catch our animals and work to keep them safe , but predators are smart & hungry, so we’re always learning what we coulda, shoulda done the hard way.

    You’re very brave to post this truth because so many people who don’t understand how terrible such predation is are quick to come to the defense of the poor possum. Great post.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Thanks Kathy,
      It sounds like you’ve had many experiences with predators. I’m planning to make some changes to our fencing this year when the ground thaws. I have a fox that has found a way in and out of the pen and has been coming round for breakfast. That has to stop.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

      Reply
  7. S.Lynn

    I’ve trapped and released a possum, 3 skunks, a fox, a raccoon and many many feral cats in our live trap. We take them out to the lake so they at least have water and running chance for life. Otherwise, I don’t care if they’re food for others.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi S. Lynn,
      In our area there are very low cost spay/neuter programs for feral cats. I have a friend who traps them then has them altered so they don’t breed. It could add up, but it might be kinder to take them to a local shelter to be euthanized. I hate to say that because I like cats, but they are overpopulated.

      Reply
  8. Bethany

    I grew up on a farm and I remember one summer day lounging around being a teenager and all of a sudden hearing my mom yelling! I ran to see what was the matter and it was her with a shovel killing a possum in the pasture . We had recently heard that possum poop carries a parasite that can make horses go crazy and then have to be put down. She didnt think twice. Her horses are her life. I learned from her you just do what you gotta do πŸ™‚
    We have a terrible problem with groundhogs. Not only do they eat the garden they have started to eat our chicken eggs!!!! I have googled it and apparently they can and will eat chickens. Haven’t experienced this yet but we don’t wanna take the chance. First sign of spring we put the live trap out and take care of them.. It’s just the way it is. They are a predator taking food out of my kids mouths by eating up the garden and our eggs so I don’t even think twice. Also helps the way I was raised I guess. When I was younger living at my parents we had a skunk kill all our chickens. It was caught in the act. Never thought a skunk would do that but it happened!
    Your a tough cookie πŸ™‚ thanks for posting, I appreciate the realness! It’s refreshing.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Thanks so much, Bethany! Your Mom was a tough lady and you have obviously followed in her footsteps. πŸ™‚ So glad to hear your thought. And, wow! I would never suspect a woodchuck of eating chickens. I really don’t like having them on the homestead anyway, because they can destroy a garden. So far, I haven’t had any on this property. Interesting, because we have fields behind and on the side…never seen one or any holes. Glad I haven’t had any troubles with them, but will be even more vigilant now! We have a bigger problem with coon, possum, coyote, owls, and hawks. Skunks are around but so far, I haven’t had any major run in…thank goodness!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

      Reply
  9. Anonymous

    country gal here, killed many, usually go to barn with .22 I should write a book, funny and sad stories. I’ve had less troubles since we’ve used dog and chicken wire completely around the hen house and their yard. I check ever box and roost each night before closing their door, after I found a possum sleeping in a hen nest. Still need to patch that hole.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hey fellow country gal πŸ™‚ You SHOULD write a book! I’ll have to be more alert…I haven’t found a possum sleeping in the coop yet! Thanks for the heads up. πŸ™‚ Good luck getting that patching done!

      Reply
  10. Susie

    Yes, sadly, we do have to at one point-sometimes even more than once- stop and protect our livestock. We keep the live trap set most nights-just a slice of bread will attract them! I guess the worse is catching a skunk-Hubby was told to shoot them in the head and they won’t spray-AIN’T true!!! The next one was drowned in the pond. Snakes are by far the thing that scares me the most-will make me hurt myself trying to get away! lol But a good shovel can take care of them as well!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Susie,
      I’ve never been afraid of snakes, and I hate to kill them because they eat so many mice. But they can also eat eggs and young chicks…so they can be a problem. So far I haven’t had any issues with them. Yes, I hope I never have to deal with a skunk, but I’m guessing I’ll have issues with them in the coop eventually. πŸ™

      Reply
      1. Susie

        We have trouble with chicken snakes-they don’t only eat eggs-they will eat baby rabbits as well. Just makes me sick to go out and find one in a cage and no babies left!! Same with baby chicks-they always seem to find a way into the cages but then can’t get out after their meal! Then they are mine! πŸ™‚

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Oh, that would be heart breaking, Susie. πŸ™ I’ve never had a problem with snakes. Have you ever tried raising guinea fowl? I wonder if the reports I’ve heard of guineas eating snakes are true?

          I hope I never have this problem. I don’t have rabbit anymore, but chicks would also be in danger.

  11. Lorraine

    Lisa, my husband says “If we could just put up that yellow crime tape with a sign that sez ‘Do not enter…that means you possums, coons, deer…then we’d be all set.” But alas, the yellow crime tape does not work. So, we do what we must to keep our livestock and garden safe. It’s just the way it is. We do it humanely as we can. Hubby catches in live trap, then shoots point blank in the brain. I praise him and thank him for it. As you said, I’m not sure my hand would be that steady so I’m glad hubby does it. Not pretty, but necessary. Actually, we have some pretty funny stories about coon culling. . . only homesteaders would laugh!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Lol! Thanks for the laugh, Lorraine! My Dad likes to leave the carcass of a dead woodchuck to warn the other woodchucks what will happen to them if they move in. πŸ˜‰ We’ve joked about putting their heads on stakes…but I think the neighbors already think I’m a little strange!

      Reply
  12. Deb

    Good for you, anyone who says it’s awful to kill possums, coon, skunks, ground hogs, etc. doesn’t have animals or buildings to worry about. We live trap and kill with a 22. The g. hogs rui na building and possums, and coons could get chickens, although mine are in a portable coop by day and it’s fort knox. In the coop there’s no way they cna get in the pen either. All we catch are put back behind the barn for the vultures. One summer we killed 11 baby g. hogs and 4 or 5 adult ones. One day there were 10 buzzards on our barn roof. Bet the neighbors wondered what was going on. I can’t use the old 22 my hubby has, its’ old and doesn’t sight correctly. I would use a shovel if I had too. No hawk issues as my chickens don’t free range. Don’t know the laws on them, probably they’re protected. For those who think g. hogs are cute need to get a grip and read all the problems they cause. They are NOT cute at any stage, they’re destructive critters. Please don’t encourage them and I hope your dogs or other animals get them and kill them. Killing predators is a NECESSITY on a homestead. If not you’ll never have a productive homestead. Kudos to all who get rid of these destructive creatures on their homestead.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Deb,
      Sounds like you’ve had a few naysayers too! Many people like to point a finger at how horrible we are for killing these predators, while they purchase their meat from the grocery store and ignore the inhumane conditions that livestock are raised in. Ironic, isn’t it?!

      I can appreciate the beauty of wild animals, and I also appreciate the fact that they have a place in our world. The sad fact is that more of them die because their homes are bulldozed for a new subdivision than by the hands of homesteaders.

      Thanks for your support!

      Reply
      1. Deb

        You’re welcome. the comment was in reference to the poster earlier who said g. hogs were cute and living under a building. They destroy buildings and have torn up concrete in part of our barn, raised a big piece under a car sitting in the barn. As for skunks, we live trapped one and hubby used a piece of cardboard around the trap as best he could but it sprayed and the smell was really bad. He didn’t get sprayed, but showered, washed his hair and thought he still smelled it. For me when a skunk got caught and he wasn’t home, I moved slowly and opened the door and the skunk went out wihtout spraying. Did that twice last fall. We ahve seen very tiny baby skunks and however cute they eat cat food and smell around the house at night. One year i watched a mama skunk with 3 babies leaving from around the house. She found a mouse and the baby that got it stayed to eat. I couldn’t get it to move on and it got lost from the rest and stayed nearby. It was young and probably still nursing so I felt sorry for it till it got bigger and then I shooed it off. I got within a foot of it and took some cute pictures while it was under a building eating the mouse. Anyway I love animlas too but folks don’t think of the inhumane meat in the store that in no way compares to instant death from a 22. You have to protect what is yours, be it your garden or livestock. I care very little what others think as they live in a different world than me. Make money, spend money, use credit cards and ahve to work more to pay it off. I live by growing all I cna, forage all I cna, buy grass fed meat and do for myself, reuse, recycle, make do, no debt, etc. Few folks think or live that way around me. Good job.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Thanks Deb. πŸ™‚ I thought that was what you meant…but it sounds like you’ve maybe heard a few comments like I have. That’s great that you are living so close to the land. So few people do and don’t understand how important it is to keep your garden and livestock safe so that you will have enough to eat. Keep up the great work…and thanks again for sharing your wisdom!

        2. Deb

          Thanks for your compliment, don’t know as I’m very wise unless it comes with age, LOL, but you do learn as you go. I’ve not had anything go after my hcickens and I also didn’t know g. hogs would go after chcickens, jsut thought they got the garden. Hubby saw and shot an old gray g. hog last fall. He was out at dusk and hubby happened to see him behind the barn and cam all the way to the house and it was still there. Gone now. To the comment about snakes, I NEVER kill them as they help with rodents and such. No poisonous ones here but they are here for a reason and to kill them jsut because they’re a snake is irresponsible. Poisonous ones I understand. We don’t see a lot but I love them being here. We have outdoor cats and I think maybe due that they aren’t close. I protect all toads and tree frogs from the cats too, putting them somewhere they have a chance to thrive and away from easy access for the cats. I take praying mantises away and all beneficial insects that the cats like to play with/eat. Now if only they’d catch and eat Japanese Beetles. LOL In all honesty not many folks say much about killing predators and I grew up with our dog or my dad killing to protect chickens and such. To remove them to another place is worse as they might starve or create problems within the new area. Better to eliminate. I do know humans are encroaching on their habitat but I for one do nothing to promote that.

        3. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Hi Deb,
          I have to say I’m with you on the snake subject. Of course, I also live the north where I don’t have to worry about poisonous snakes. If I were to find that they were getting in and eating chicks and eggs, I might feel differently. Hopefully I don’t have to worry about that! I have heard that guinea fowl will chase snakes away and kill them. I haven’t raised guineas (yet) so I don’t have first hand experience with this. But perhaps it would be worth trying for folks who do have snake issues.

          Yes, if only we could train cats to kill Japanese Beetles…Now that would be a sight to see! Lol!

          Unfortunately whenever a new subdivision goes in, there is a great displacement of wild animals. I’ve never bought a home in a new subdivision and never will. If only people would rehab old homes instead!

          Thanks for stopping by!

        4. Deb

          I would never live in a subdivision either, never have and never will as it’s yucky is the nicest I can say. My old 80+ yr. old house on 5 acres is much better. Now if I could get rid of spray on fields, but anyway, I’m in the northern regions and no poisonous snakes. I see very few but would love to see more. I agree so many older homes have character. I will never want a new home unless we could do cob or something but at our ages we will not accomplish that so am happy to keep what we have. Actually I hate new houses, too much waste.

  13. carolyn tait

    Bless your heart. I can only imagine how hard that must have been. A necessary down-side of the choice to live off of the land and not from packaged food.

    Reply
  14. Lori Lehman

    I am not a homesteader but I love following your blog. I think there must be a bit of homesteader in me. This was a great post. So well written! I felt like I was there! Have a great day!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Thanks so much, Lori! I think most of us have a little bit of homesteader in our genes. πŸ™‚ Some of us are just a little bit closer to our ancestors than others! So glad you stopped by and liked the post…I’m flattered!

      Reply
  15. Elsa

    I’ve seen the damage that predators can do to a flock. I had a hawk attack, and it managed to kill one hen and injure another. If I was in your position I would have done the same, you got to do what you can to protect your animals.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      You’re so right, Elsa! Hawks can be very damaging to a flock. But they are one animal that is protected and I won’t harm them. I’m planning to do some protective netting over the pasture this summer to prevent them from raiding my flock.Thanks for the support!

      Reply
  16. Pingback: Killing a Possum on the Homestead | Around The Cabin

    1. Kim

      I went down to the coop and found a opossum lurking around the chicken run. The girls were freaked out and so was I. I grabbed a stick and beat it til it ran away. I don’t own a gun and it will probably be back. What and where do I get a trap?

      Reply
      1. Lisa Lynn Post author

        Hi Kim,
        It is possible that you scared it enough that it won’t want to come back. But to be on the safe side, you can set a live trap that won’t kill any pets or livestock that might get caught. I bought one at Farm and Fleet, but I’m sure that they will also be available at Tractor Supply, Central Tractor, or any other farm supply store. You can also go online and look for them and have one shipped.

        If you catch a live possum, you will have to either shoot it, stab it, or drown it…none of these will be fun. Since you don’t own a gun, drowning might be the easiest. Find a tub that is large enough to submerge the entire trap and hold it under water until the critter stops struggling. Sorry folks! No one ever said that homesteading would be easy. πŸ™

        Reply
  17. Katie

    I do not think I could kill an animal with a shovel. We have lost several of our chickens to possums in the past, and when that happens we just make sure to close them up earlier in the evening. The possums have never gone after our birds during the day. We have a family of groundhogs that live under our shed and I love seeing the little babies in the spring even though it means weeks of worry that the dogs are going to get them. I’m an animal lover through and through, not a true homesteader.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Katie,
      I know it’s a hard thing for most to think about. I’m an animal lover too. After seeing so many of my chickens killed, I guess my heart has hardened toward the possums. They beheaded or otherwise killed over a dozen chickens in one evening and most looked like they were played with before they died. It was a very sick feeling to find the carnage. And yes, I’ve tried to close the coop up earlier, but this time the possum was in there while it was still light out…so I did what I felt I had to do.

      I understand how many people would not choose the same course of action. I hope you never have a mass killing like I’ve had. Best wishes!

      Reply
  18. Joan @ The Chicken Mama

    I don’t even like keeping the mouse population under control, but yes, this must be done. I think I could put my big girl panties on and protect my flock if needed. Keela recently treed a raccoon, so I know predators are out there. With no gun in the house…it will be The Chicken Mama in the barnyard with the garden shovel πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Joan,
      It means a lot to hear you say that! I’m not crazy about pulling a gun out, it would have to be the pellet gun. But unless I can shoot them point blank, it wouldn’t be very humane. πŸ™

      I hope you don’t have to do this any time soon!

      Reply
      1. Bobbie Griffin

        Figured the GUN thing would be said sooner or later. We live in western rural part of Virginia, in the mountains and we have PLENTY of critters. We don’t raise chickens or livestock because of our health. We see our outside animals have rabies shots and yes, sometimes the cat food gets stolen, but when trouble appears to be on the horizon….the gun comes out and is a quick humane way to do this. I do not feel, even having been a female hunter and fishing person that bashing with a shovel is my thing….I even want my have to kill snakes killed quicker than that. Sorry….just my opinion and I do understand your reasoning when you have livestock for food or money.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          No problem, Bobbie. I understand and would prefer to shoot too. I don’t carry a firearm with me and we are actually right across from a subdivision. I think the pellet gun would have been the best solution, but I was concerned that the possum would do more damage or hide while I went to get it. It was not my favorite memory of this country life…but I am glad that I was able to prevent any harm to my flock.

  19. Deborah A

    Haven’t had to yet, but I know my time is coming. I live right in town. I raise broilers, laying hens, ducks, rabbits, quail, turkeys. I also have coons and possums. Possums were living under my shed and are always under my house. The shed is coming down to put in a greenhouse. They haven’t bothered my animals. Yet. I have found them on my porch in the cat food bin, when my granddaughter didn’t close it tightly. If the time comes to protect my animals, I will grab a shovel!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Deborah,
      I hope you don’t lose any of your livestock to the critters! They can wipe out an entire flock in one night when the mother is feeding her litter of young. It seems like they are teaching their little ones to hunt by heading to an easy source of food, then they go on a killing spree. You might want to start setting traps or making their comfy burrow under the buildings less inviting now before they decide to start killing! Best wishes!

      Reply
  20. Toni

    Having to get rid of pests on the homestead is just the way it is, and those who don’t get it usually think food comes from the grocery store. We had an egg eating skunk that I had to take care of one year…or lose any hope of our hens hatching baby chicks. Well, I shot it from the loft of the barn, then the barn stunk for a couple weeks, but the flock increased that year. Predator control concerns me greatly as I am raising Lavender Orpingtons this year, and the loss of just one would be a big chunk out of the budget.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Toni,
      Yes, quite a few people must think that food grows on plastic trays in a factory πŸ˜‰ I don’t envy you the task of shooting a skunk! We’ve smelled them around here and I had one take up residence in a shed, but they haven’t been in the coop yet. I understand the need to protect your investment and the future of your flock! Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Reply

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