Foxes and Chickens
With fox attacks once again on the increase, I went back to basics on foxes and chickens to research some old methods' into keeping this killing machine at bay.
First of all it's important to understand with foxes and chickens that they do not hate you or your chickens! They are just doing just what you and me do everyday...surviving and feeding there family.
Yes once in the hen house, run or garden they get whipped up into a frenzy and will kill every bird there, not just what they need to feed on. They very rarely eat on the spot, but will carry away what they can. They may also hide chicken bodies within the area to return at a later date.
If you have hens or any domestic prey animals like ducks or even caged rabbits chances are even in Cities the local fox will know they are there. He may even visit nightly to check you have not let your guard down!
The answer? Well there is not one simple answer,but rather several that you should follow:
First of all
Firstly, invest in a some quality Chicken Wire Netting for your run. We're not talking the usual thin gauge, flexible and pliable traditional mesh commonly known as chicken or rabbit wire here - foxes can pull this material out of shape and even bite right through it - but the real strong welded mesh
Chicken Wire Netting
that has been electro-welded and designed for poultry cages and runs. Alternatively another great form of protection from foxes particully if your hens are allowed to be completely free range both night and day is
but even with electric fencing I have heard of examples of foxes going under the fence by digging far back, going under low enough and coming up far enough in too avoid the electric wires!
Also stories of foxes going over the fences, climbing trees and dropping in, also climbing on objects and dropping in. They also seem to have a sixth sense as well, often watching the fence for long periods and watching for breaks in current, watching for birds landing on the fence without harm. The fox somehow seems to know when the current is not even on.
If it is not possible (or not your choice)to fit electric fencing or a heavy duty wire mesh netting make sure all fences, and hedges have no gaps and are high enough to keep out the foxes and chickens in - six foot fencing should suffice.
At night time make sure your hens are in the coop or chicken shed and insure you check them in, counting them if possible if you have several in your flock.
Ensure pop holes are not easily opened by animals from the outside, also nest boxes if they are outside opening ones (it has been known for foxes to get in via the hen nest box and also just to just push them up and wait for your chicken to stick her head out!
If your coop has a built in run,it is highly advisable to place chicken wire underneath to stop the fox's digging under. Never assume that your hens are safe in the run at night time, try to usher them into the house for better safety.
Foxes have a great sense of smell like most predators, so it is a good idea to keep your house as clean as possible. Chicken poo is a great fertilizer so wash the poo into the ground to give soil a boost, this will also help prevent the smell reaching foxy.
Try to work the fox's good sense of smell against him. Old method's tried just this and some are listed below, they are claimed to work, and the reasoning behind the ideas is quite sound,try them but do not take it that they work 100%!
Ask you local hairdresser for a mixture of as many different handfuls of hair as possible, place in either old tights and place near hen houses or where you believe fox to be gaining entry. This method is said to work because the fox can tell the difference between the different hair,so if you have hair from ten different people,the fox will believe there to be ten different people around,you must make sure that he can not see the tights,this method is often called "Hair sausaging"
Another method based on smell is based on what is believed the scent fox's associate with man. Often sweaty feet, deodorant or aftershave and stale tobacco. This method can be used in the form of a scarecrow combining all or some of the scents.Another scent said to scare off fox's is dog and male human urine,in saying that human urine is said to attract rats,as it is said that our poor diets is so full of sugar and salts that the rats find this attractive.
A more modern method is a live catch and hold fox or predator cage,which you can hire or buy,you must check with your local authority as to the legality of there use,however normally if you use on your own property this is ok.
This does not solve the problem completely as you then have a live trapped fox to deal with,and it is illegal to move to another area,unfortunately culling is the best answer to a troublesome fox,but please remember he is only troublesome to you,not the eco system in general!
Lots of folks claiming that since the hunting with dogs ban that the fox population has increased,I have no hard evidence but I strongly feel this is incorrect,I believe that the introduction of wheelie bins,may be why we are seeing more fox's closer to us,more so in towns and city's,as he is no longer able to scavenge from bin bags,thus they have had to grow ever more bold and cunning.
Love him or hate him,you have to respect him. Without doubt he is the UK top predator.
In recent centuries wolves,bears and some birds of prey and other hated species have been eliminated to extinction in the UK,the fox continues and will continue to thrive.Protect your birds and animals,as a fox kill scene is upsetting and looks callus and cruel.
But they are only doing what we do daily,attempting to survive and thrive.
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