Red Fox - Chicken Predators - How To Protect Your Chickens From Foxes

The red fox is a quick, skilful hunter and known chicken predator
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated Jun 8, 2013 · ·
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  1. BYC Support
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    General Information

    The red fox is a quick, skillful hunter, feeding on a wide variety of foods. Mice are often eaten, especially during the winter months and cottontail rabbits are also an important part of their diet. They remain active throughout the year but are primarily nocturnal, only occasionally coming out during the daylight hours. Red foxes seem to prefer somewhat open habitats and are not creatures of dense forests. They are found mostly in areas with interspersed croplands, old fields, and woodlots, especially along the edges formed by these habitats.

    Description

    The red fox resembles a bushy-tailed, medium-sized dog. The usual coloration is a bright rusty-red with black feet and legs and a whitish belly. A good identifying feature is the long tail which is tipped with white. Other color varieties of the red fox also occur including a black, a silver, and a cross phase in which a dark area crosses over the shoulders and down the middle of the back. Red foxes measure in total length from about 39 to 41 inches and weigh between 10 and 15 pounds.

    Range

    Red foxes are found throughout much of North America. They occur throughout most of the Carolina mountains and Piedmont but are rare to absent in the eastern coastal plain. The red fox is one of two fox species found in the southern mountains. The other, the grey fox, is sometimes mistaken for the red fox, but is somewhat different in appearance and frequents slightly different habitats.

    Method of kill

    The fox tends to strike fear into the hearts of chicken owners. The fox is prone to hunt 2 hours after sundown and 2 hours before sunrise. Foxes take their prey some distance (miles even) from the sight of the kill. Usually, the only sign of a fox raid is scattered feathers. Although most active at twilight they are also sometimes seen during the day. They are known for their raids on poultry, particularly during the spring when there is a need to provide food for their growing litters. Red foxes do not chew their food, they tend to swallow it whole. This accounts for the abundance of fur and crushed bones found in fox droppings. They commonly kill more food that they eat at once and bury the extra food in caches.

    Prevention / Treatment

    A red fox is an intelligent predator that will not hesitate to go after your chickens for its next meal. Springtime presents the highest number of chicken casualties because it is this time that red foxes need to gather more food to sustain their offspring. A single red fox has been known to wipe out entire chicken flocks in a single raid. These killers are not just relentless, but they are also patient and very smart. They will find all the cracks, openings, and weak points in your chicken runs and use those as entry points. If you have cats, small dogs, mice, rabbits, and guinea pigs, then you will find that the red fox will have more reason to stalk your property.


    Make sure that it is not illegal to shot or trap red foxes in your state. Chicken farmers often shoot at red foxes, because they know it takes a lot of energy to scare these brave predators. The red fox is accustomed to raiding houses and farms that they have gotten used to dealing with the human element. Live baits and traps can be used to get rid of that pesky red fox, but after capturing one, make sure to call Animal Control as relocating red foxes are not allowed in many states. If you do install traps, ensure that the red fox will not see them as they are smart enough to know objects that are meant to harm them. Just like cats, red foxes will not go into a particular area twice if they know that there is a trap there.

    For those who have free range chickens and animals roaming around their gardens, yards and farm area, the best thing to do is to keep your poultry and livestock safe at night. These hunters can jump over a 6-foot high fence and they can dig their way underground as well. You can extend the level of protection by burying strong chicken wire several inches underground. Electric fencing is also recommended. If you want an all-around method to scare away red foxes, however, get a guarding dog that can act as your alarm and guard whenever you are not there to watch over your chickens. Foxes will rarely fight a bigger animal especially if they know that they need to be able to survive so that they can feed their young.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Butterscotchbitesfinger
    "Foxes do come during the day"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Nov 20, 2018
    i have only had one attack at night and I agree with the last post about it down playing foxes during the day. I have lost many chickens to foxes at day time instead of night time, useful article though for beginners
    But please do do surrounding research into the matter before you base all your pens around this. They will and do chew through wire
    Happy chicken keeping
  2. Sagebrush
    "Simple and to the point"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 3, 2018
    Unfortuantely I experienced this first hand with a fox attack, 6 chickens gone in one night. We think it was more than one and they crawled through a hole around the new pipe in the pump house, climbed a pole over the top into the henhouse and carried them out. This was in late summer. They are indeed clever!
    We have two large dogs but that wasn't
    enough that time.
    What seemed to help in addition to what was mentioned in the article: we also installed motion detector lights in the front and back of the henhouse and keep any high brush trimmed back to minimize hiding spots. No more attacks but no sense of false security here with these smart critters .
  3. Anonymous
    "Easy read on the red fox."
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 9, 2018
    Good info on any aspects of the red fox. Nice read.

Comments

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  1. Butterscotchbitesfinger
    I have lost more chickens than I can count to foxes during the day so I know what your feeling @foofty . Our Great Dane chased one off the other night, I HATE foxes.
  2. blackandtan
    I find it hard to believe that in the states a farmer isn’t allowed to protect their livestock. Thankfully here in Canada it isn’t like that - I’ve had birds for years and never ever had a predator problem, my fence is pretty makeshift, my dogs are out loose all day in the yard and I have ducks which warn the chickens about aerial predators. Oh and in the winter there are always weasels and/or mink and sometimes skunks living under the coop. Never a problem that is, till my overly kind-hearted neighbor decided to feed not one, but TWO litters of foxes, with predictable results...26 birds later, she wonders why I have no more eggs to sell her!
      foofty likes this.
    1. foofty
      that's the secret! You have dogs. Many have asked me "why don't you have a dog because foxes hate dogs"?
      Training a dog takes alot of commitment&I don't feel I have enough knowledge to do it.:( I love retrievers and herding dogs so much!
  3. foofty
    This article doesn't speak at all on the fox drama that occured today at our humble little chicken/duck/horse/goose farm. The fox appeared to be juvenile, came at 1:30 p.m. Trotted around the front of our barn where the free range chickens and new pair of runner ducks were hanging out. Just trotted up to whatever it saw as I screamed at it waiting for my husband to get there in his elec. wheelchair with the 22 rifle. Fox was almost onto my Silver Seabright as I screamed & chased him, he finally got scared & ran off. Unfortunately I was in my husbands line of fire&he missed the fox before it disappeared over the hill. In the last day, we lost our D'Uccle Rooster and Brahma mother hen. Last week we lost Araucana and brown hen. Fox just ate the head&neck of the older brown hen&left its body. The other 3 bodies were taken away.
    I've read that they are nocturnal but not from what I witnessed today!
    This is sad because these chickens are so sweet, have known them for more than a year. Invested time with them, try to keep them safe and they get nabbed in an instant.
    Put poison in the carcass of the hen&tied it to the fence where the fox came thru. Also have 22 pistol & 22 rifle to take him/her out when we see it again. Hopefully we won't lose anymore lives before we get him. Damn thing!
  4. Gypsy52
    I lost all my baby chickens to a fox I'm sure. I didnt secure the door properly. 5 were in the little box I had them in dead and 5 missing. I'm heartbroken they went thru such trauma. No more hens for my roo either, fox got them earlier this year. No matter what I do, as mine are free range. I really hate to pin them in
      foofty likes this.
    1. foofty
      so so sorry for your loss. I know the frustration of not wanting them to stay inside all day. But to keep them safe until fox is gone, its worth keeping them in for a bit.
  5. Sagebrush
    I just lost 6 last night. My neighbor has seen a fox in his fields, I'm sure that's what it is. I shored up every crack and weak spot with wire, boards and big rocks today. I hope that works. I have big dogs but they were in the garage and never heard a thing. One of the hens started roosting in the garage with the dogs tonight!
      foofty likes this.
  6. closetfan
    I lost 7 of 12 in Dec. I took my dogs with me for a week's vacation, came back and they were gone. So much for free ranging. They are now back in their dog pen. I have an Amish made henhouse with electric door. Then a 10x10' dog pen, wrapped with an extra roll of chicken wire. Chicken wire also covers the top of the dog pen. So, when they're in there, they are safe. I'm sure I lost half the flock to a fox, the other half to a hawk.
  7. jlholm
    I had one grab one of my girls right from in front of our patio door when I went in to get her a treat. It didn't let go of her even as I ran to the door screaming, until the dog came running around the corner at the commotion. But I won't be able t let them out at all if it's this bold. This is the second one in a coup,e weeks times it's grabbed right in front of the house.
      foofty likes this.
    1. foofty
      Those foxes are very bold. Unafraid of us screaming at them as I saw today. We lost a rooster and 2 bantee hens. Last week 2 full sized hens. Both in mid day. Makes me want to carry our 22 pistol on my hip when I'm out in the yard. Ya, them foxes are relentless. Gotta kill 'em
  8. bluebirdnanny
    Foxes are smart. They will watch under cover and figure out when the chickens are let out of morning or put up at night and adjust their timing to prowl an hour or two earlier or later as needed.
    Had one just today at the end of my driveway entrance. I had not shut the door yet so I ran out and shooed my last chicken inside and shut and barred the flap/pop door. Luckily I had seen it first. I knew it had been around at night and killed rabbits outside the coop. Glad I caught its time adjustment before it got a taste of my flock.
  9. suzilovesbirds
    whatever is killing my girls leaves no parts just a hand ful of feathers and its during the daytime
  10. suzilovesbirds
    I live in central texas and have a predator who has been picking off a hen every other day and no matter how we sit and wait we see nothing. We have 25 acres and went from 16 birds down to eight. I am scared for them now and still am not sure what it is... But I think it might be a grey fox. makes me sick. Some of our hens are so friendly they sit on our laps and run to me when I come home. Gotten really attached to mjy girls... don't know what to do...
    1. foofty
      so so sorry. Damn Foxes! They need to be killed when we see them. Could be a weasel. Are you near water, river,stream,pond? Weasels will take one by one each night with no sign. happened to us 3 years ago. they get in thru very tiny holes
  11. Chickengirl64
    My flock got wiped out over Memorial Day and we thought it was weasels. When my neighbor who hasn't seen a weasel in the 36 years she has been there, said it's probably a fox, it began to make sense. They buried hardware cloth out from the base of their coop about 15" then covered it with lime. She's seen the fox in her backyard watching the chickens, but not getting into her coop. I had no idea they could clear a 6' high fence.
      foofty likes this.
    1. foofty
      yep. we saw fox leap up onto 6' fence & climb over quickly. Very agile creatures.
  12. countrydream7
    this is what I worry about predators hope I can keep in control over this getting chicks in spring time
  13. Jipus5
    For the 2nd year in a row they have almost wiped me out. I was sitting on the back porch reading, my lil Boston Terrier was beside me, 2:30 in the afternoon. Suddenly a fox burst from the tree line and was on my poor hen. Rolled with her, four feet off my tiny back porch with me screaming and stomping like a mad-woman....it snapped its neck, looked at me, growled, and grabbed her and took off. I felt violated...sat there and cried like a baby. Scared me to death....and it is illegal to to ANYTHING here. What I shoot, bury, and never tell of though they can't arrest me for....but I am not as great of a shot as DH is....and since I free range during the day, they realized how my coop if made of tractor trailer doors so came when they are out. Got 18 babies the other day.....broke my heart again.....
    1. foofty
      DAMN! See, it's just not true that foxes are nocturnal. I just saw one today 20 feet in front of me at 1:30 in the afternoon as I screamed at it and chased it away from killing my bantee hen. But it had gotten our bantee rooster&hen earlier. Damn foxes need to be killed&it don't matter whether it's legal or not. They killing our pets. We finally got a silencer on our 22 rifle, so it's on!
  14. rollkeeg877
    i had one grab my pheasant threw the wire but he got away then i made a thick snare trap and put a dead bird in a cage the fox got into it and broke the snare and never came back.
      foofty likes this.
  15. rrrmamma
    We had one come into the yard about noon. There were 4 of us in the kitchen and spotted it through the window. The girls were freeranging in the yard..My dh and his friend went for the guns we keep near the doors,but the noise must have scared him off. aWe heard him calling last night so he is still around. No freeeanging for awile.
      foofty likes this.
  16. outdoorsii
    Thats a good question clucky LOL b/c so have I, 10am even when we were all outside on our 5 acres...half woodsy area, it was a juvenile grey fox...it didn't care that my mother was screaming at it either
      foofty likes this.
  17. clucky3255
    I have seen fox's stalking my chickens in the daytime. does that mean they are rabid?
      foofty likes this.
    1. foofty
      It's B.S. that foxes are nocturnal. This article is full of blue mud. Read these other testimonies and I just screamed at and chased away a red fox at 1:30 in the afternoon today. It wasn't scared of me until I was 10 feet away and chasing it from my bantee hens
  18. avany
    Whats a good inexpensive trap to order that they will enter ?
      Crazy 4 Chickens likes this.
    1. foofty
      nothing. they too smart to enter a trap. you gotta sit there with your 22&shoot it. Or put poison out in some chicken thighs

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