My 3 Silkie flock is down to 2 after a fox carried off one of my hens today in the middle of the afternoon. These are my first chickens, and I started letting them free range this winter when they would huddle miserably at the gate of their pen. I just started really enjoying the chickens over the past week or so as I started to teach them to come when called by throwing some feed. Now I don't know what to do. The chickens are so much happier free ranging, but I fear that I will just be serving them up to the fox if I let them free range. Is there a particular season that the fox will be so brazen or will this be a permanent problem now that they have discovered the chickens? The chickens were definitely in a danger area: away from the house and near the treeline. We live in a rural area in southern New Hampshire. My husband just happened to look out the window as the fox grabbed the chicken. I now have a roo and a hen. I don't expect to ever have a large flock, not that that necessarily makes it easier to lose a bird. I guess I'm wondering what other's experiences have been in similar situations. Is it really just let them live happily until something eats them as they free range or are there some guidelines for keeping them safer as they free range? Any chance that they will stay closer to the house now that a fox has taken one? I'm thinking of getting them a tractor to keep them safe, but I know that they won't be as happy and I won't enjoy them as much. Not sure that there is a right answer but thought I'd ask anyway. Thanks.
Here's a guide to help you free range more effectively..... http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bees-key-points-to-successful-and-safe-free-ranging