Protecting your hens against Foxes
Every day 'think fox' and fence your chickens well
You walk up the garden. There's an unusual quietness and stillness as you approach the chicken shed. You don't see the normal site of chickens standing outside the gate waiting for their breakfast.
The closer you get, the more obvious it becomes, feathers forming a trail into the overgrowth and surrounding hedge. You open the door and the draught lift's feathers into the air like the after effects of a cushion fight of old.
One or two, or three, or four chickens sit nervously on their perches making a nervous whimper of a sound.
The eye's roll downward and you see carcases everywhere, no blood, just fully bodied birds left as they were killed.
Then you head count, maybe six carcases but only two missing, usually then noticing the one's who had their own little personality which you got to like so much. You look around to find out where they got in. Sometimes a tiny gap, sometimes you're left with no idea atall.
Finally, the guilt hits you. You built it, you brought them, you protected them, they were your responsibility.
"Richard, stop moaning, it's your own bl**dy fault the Fox is taking your Chickens".
These are the exact words someone said to me after I'd had a few fox attacks and I was moaning about it.
The thing is he was absolutely right being blunt, if anyone loses their Hens to Predators it's because we've done something wrong or just not done or seen something.
After that I shored up tight, made daily inspections etc. All was well until one day I didn't respect the weather forecast...'high winds and snow'.
On Christmas morning I went to feed my then seven hens and all were taken.
The snow had drifted up the side of the fene causing it to lean far enough for the Fox to get over.
MY FAULT ENTIRELY.
Since then thank goodness I haven't lost any more but I make sure on all the possibilities. Sooner or later I'll get something wrong, the favourite is the simplest of them all - forgetting to shut the gate.
Not many of us Chicken Keepers haven't done that and paid the price.
Here are some 'tips' I've picked up from TV or other sites / forums etc............
Make the entrance to a shed with sharp zig zags which only a chicken can manouver around. Bare in mind the length of a fox and fix angles of 180 degrees that a fox can't contort his body to.
Hang human hair around the pen at six feet intervals. They don't like the smell apparently. Use ladies tight's or fine netting.
Urinate at regular intervals around the pen. This is you marking your territory. (Watch the stinging nettles - I found this out to my cost !!!)
Walk around the pen a few times every night, again leaving your smell.
How can I get in ?, how can I get out ?, Look for all possiblities.
Get a dog and keep it in a kennel outside (although something I wouldn't do).
A good guideline is 'if a squirrel could get in, so could a fox'
Finally I would say what someone said to me once - if a Fox takes any Chickens, it's not the foxes fault - it's yours. You've overlooked something, you haven't done something, or you just didn't 'think fox'. It's hard to take I know, but I can't with a hand on my heart say that all the chickens I lost were not down to something concerning me.
See the New Page - Facts about the Fox - Have I got Foxes in my Garden - The Daily Check List