Foxes

Urban foxes can be as much of a problem as their countryside version can be to the country chicken keeper. This section contains articles related to dealing with foxes.

Alternative Deterrents

Male urine is supposed to act as a deterrent! Getting a male in your house to collect some urine and applying in the area near to the chickens may mark the territory. Human hair is also supposedley a fox deterrent too- your own, or perhaps hair collected from a hairdresser.

Attacks

Foxes tend to attack more at night but are opportunistic killers. You may find paw prints, droppings or areas where a fox has tried to dig its way into your garden. In the day, supervising your chickens if they freerange is the best option to protect your chickens, although some city foxes are almost fearless and will approach humans and visit gardens in daylight. I’ve read one story of a person being attacked by a fox, which only released its bite when dogs were set on it, ignoring being sprayed with a hosepipe! Some councils deal with persistant problem foxes in an urban area. Foxes certainly shouldn’t be underestimated, they are well known for their taste for chickens.

Fox attacks can be cruel, foxes for some reason can “go crazy” in henhouses and kill a whole flock leaving the majority of carcusses behind. Be warned there are many stories of foxes taking chickens the “one time” the chicken owner has forgotten to close the door, or “just popped inside,” so be vigilant, make sure your hens are always safe in a foxproof henhouse and you should have no problems. We have included several sections on fox deterrents to help you protect your chickens.

Eglu – Fox Proof ?

Although the Eglu is sold as fox resistant/proof there are a few weak spots that in rare cases have caused problems. These have been solved by eglu users as below.
Digging under

Whilst the run has large wire flaps at the bottom to make it difficult for a fox to dig in. There has been one case of a fox digging under on loose earth. Packing down any ground before put the run on top of it will help, as will pegging down the flaps, and placing heavy bricks/paving slabs on the flaps. It is rare however, for a fox to attempt this as usually wire skirts will put the fox off digging. Shutting your chickens in the eglu will protect them even if the run is breached.
Through bars

The gaps in the wire of a run do allow your chicken to try to peck at things on the outside of the run. Chickens will normally try and get away but in the case of our chicken Beth she pecked at a fox and lost her beak, resulting in her having to be put down. Shutting the chickens in the eglu is safer, but a lot of eglu owners leave the door open slightly, or train their chickens to push the door open in the morning with no problems.

The Droppings Tray

While we mentioned before that the plastic part of the eglu is secure, one owner did have a fox try and get at her chickens by managing to pull out the droppings tray. It appeared to be a one-off fault. However some heavy bricks placed behind the droppings tray makes this more or less impossible.

Electric Fences

Electric fences can be a very effective option for keeping foxes at bay. While they may not seem at first glance the ideal option for the urban setting they are suprisingly useful. They have a number of advantages over other methods.

  • Easy to set up, as they don’t require you to do any major alterations to the garden.
  • They can be simply removed if you’re not sure how long you will stay in a house.
  • Gives a fox an unpleasant surprise which discourages it from attempting to gain entry at the same point.

Electric fence systems consist of two major components, firstly the fencer, and secondly the fence its self.

Fences

Non-electrified fencing may work, but foxes are effective predators. Opinion varies, but it may need to be 5-6, or even 6-7 foot tall with inches of netting buried underground to avoid tunnelling (netting needs to survive being buried and not rot or wear thin underground). Overhangs may prevent climbing. A fence that is non-rigid and buckles easily (but not so it lowers the fence!) may prevent climbing as it moves too much to support the fox properly.

We found horizontal canes across the middle meshed two sizes of chicken wire together but act as a successful chicken perch. Horizontal canes encourage the chickens to perch. The door is a weak point and where our fox entered. Foxes have strong jaws and could possibly chew through chicken wire, even if plastic coated. Thick wire coated in plastic (found around some playing fields especially schools) is preferable.

Fox Watch

Foxwatch is a small electronic device that detects heat and motion within a certain distance and radius and emits a loud sound audible to foxes (and dogs) but not humans. It is battery or mains powered and a battery will last approximately 3 months. You turn on the device at night, and it can sit on a holder which is pushed into the soil. The battery will wear down faster if it is detecting movements such as people, pets walking past. It flashes red when it detects a movement e.g. putting the chickens away for the night, which is reassuring, and has a way of testing that it is working.

The concept behind it is that when a fox enters the area it will trigger the alarm and the fox will be deterred. The fox supposedly makes the connection between its behaviour and the noise and avoids the area. Bold foxes, the manufacturer says, can attempt to stand up to the device, but should eventually be deterred after a few weeks or months when they can’t defeat it. For this reason it is not be instantly reliable. There is also a disclaimer that it will not work on deaf foxes. You would be unlucky if your fox was deaf and you bought the device-but you can’t really know this! It costs roughly £50 and we have just bought one to run on batteries. The website below has more information. http://www.conceptresearch.co.uk/fox.htm