PROTECTING YOUR HENS FROM FOXES
Foxes are every chicken keepers’ number one nightmare. It is the most devastating moment for any chicken keeper: a fox somehow gets into your run and coop and kills one or more of your precious, much loved flock.
How did they manage it?
A fox is a cunning, smart foe. They will assess your coop and your run. They are persistent and learn quickly. A fox won’t give up lightly. They will make certain the coast is clear and even “reccy” days before. Most attack in the early morning hours or evening, but it certainly isn’t unknown to happen during the day. Indeed, in spring when cubs are young they hunt with their mothers, often in the day. Young cubs aren’t as wary of humans either, so you are more likely to see them in August too, when they first leave their mother.
Protecting your hens from predators is at the heart of our business. It is the key benefit of using a ChickenGuard. It can be a life saver!
So, what can you do to protect and secure your girls. Here are some ideas, some essential, and others that add an extra layer of protection.
Use Secure Fencing to Protect Your Flock
Good, secure and well maintained fencing is vital. Foxes and other predators only need to be able to dig a small hole under your fencing, or find a weak point where some of the wire has broken, to able to enter your run. A 6-foot high fence (180cm), ideally with an outward sloping top, is a good start. The slope will prevent foxes from climbing over. If you dig it in, then that makes it much harder for foxes to create holes and burrow under. Make sure the fencing itself is up to the job too. If in doubt use hardwire mesh rather than chicken wire.
Ensure your hens are locked up every night come rain or shine
The most likely time, but not the only time, that foxes hunt is at night and early morning. Ensure you lock up your flock at night. Use one of our ChickenGuard Automatic Chicken Coop Door Openers. They close-up the coop door at night and re-open it when it gets light. They can be set either with a timer, or by a light sensor. You can set a certain morning time, and let the light sensor close in the evening – any combination is possible. If it is light at 4am in the summer but seems dangerous, set the timer for 6 or 7am, the choice is yours.
Secure your coop from any Predator
It might seem obvious, but ensuring your coop is COMPLETELY safe is crucial. Foxes will find any chinks in your armour. Beware a small hole in a corner of your coop or an open door at night.
A Monthly Check Up
…at least. Check around your fencing for any holes in the wire. Check the ground for any signs of a fox attempting to enter the run. And check the coop itself that it is still tight and secure. Check the batteries on your coop door, fencing or lights.
Lights can Scare Foxes Away but…
Lights, and in particular flashing lights, can work but if you are in an urban area they might not be so welcome with the neighbours. They can be a deterrent, but foxes are cunning, if they suss out that the light is static, it hasn’t moved in weeks, then the technique may not work. You can move it but that can be tiresome and easily forgotten.
Pets Can Help Protect your Hens
The family dog can help keep foxes away. Foxes have an excellent sense of smell. They will smell your dog, and it can be enough to ward off a fox, but they may risk it if they are truly hungry. If you have the space, an interesting alternative is to try a Llama or 2! They are apparently great at driving foxes off. The kids will love the new family additions!
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security just because it hasn’t happened to you. Be vigilant. Walk around your flock at irregular times, a pattern to your movement is a weakness no different to a hole in your fence.
Those are some of the key ideas. And any further ideas let us know.