Nature on our Doorstep - New, The Down the Lane Wildlife Diary
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".
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'.
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.
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.
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
Chickens in the Blog
Serious & fun Articles in the Blog Have a peep
Your flock depend on you
Jagged wire at the top of a fence will deter Foxes pic
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