Fox attacks

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by critterkeeper25, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. critterkeeper25

    critterkeeper25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have now lost 3 of our hens in 2 weeks! It all started over Columbus Day weekend. We went away and left the Friday before, and left the care of our animals to our very good and competent friend. My husband always insists that the chickens be left outside for the day even when we are away. Well, we came back from our weekend visiting family in Virginia on Monday evening. The chickens were already in for the night. Tuesday morning, I let the chickens out and do my usual head count while they are enjoying their usual morning scratch snack. I came up 2 hens short. I looked everywhere. I called and called and called. No sign of them. They had simply vanished. Our friend said that when she did her head count on Saturday morning, while we were gone, she also came up 2 hens short. So they must have gone missing on the Friday that we left for our weekend away. We were puzzled.

    Fast forward to this past Wednesday evening at approximately 5:30, I am returning with my son after retrieving him from HS soccer practice. We slow down when we approach our front yard and drive and we see something going on in our front yard. My son SCREAMS, "It's a coyote Mom! It has one of our chickens!" Only it wasn't a coyote. It was a beautiful, healthy red fox, and it had one of our Buckeye hens on the ground. I proceeded to floor it and drive straight up over our lawn toward the fox and our hen. I almost ran the thing over before it finally gave up on the hen and ran off. My son threw the car door open and dove out before I even came to a full stop and chased the fox. It didn't go far, only a little ways into the soybean field that is adjacent to our yard. My son ran and got the 22 rifle and shot it in the butt. It managed to run off into the hedgerow on the other side of the soy field. I later went in there to investigate and found a big den under the uprooted root-ball of a downed tree. I believe that is where it (and probably others) is living.

    As for the hen, she was dead when we found them on the lawn. She had a broken neck, a broken wing, and bites to her legs. She was a big hen. She was a sweetheart. I cried my eyes out. My kids were upset. It was awful. I can only imagine what the other two hens that went missing over Columbus Day weekend went through. With no one there to help.

    We are currently trying to trap the injured fox and any that may be living in the den, and plan on dispatching them. Although I am super angry for it/them killing our chickens, I hate to kill them, but I don't think that they could be relocated without having them come back. Plus as someone else chastised me on this site on another occasion, they could spread disease to other populations.

    This is the first time in the year and a half of chicken ownership, that we have had issues with foxes. We have had hawks chase our chickens but have never had foxes here before. We want to free range our hens but I am afraid for their safety. We don't have a dog, and frankly, I don't feel like having another animal to take care of. We already have 15 chickens, a horse, 2 cats, a hermit crab and tropical fish. All of which have somehow turned into my sole responsibility. I can't handle any more! Has anyone had any success free ranging and surrounding their property with electrified poultry netting? We already have an electric fence for our horse. We could connect the poultry netting to that to charge it up.
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Premier's electrified poultry fencing gets very good reviews here, and they are great to deal with too. I free range, but also have a very safe run and coop, for overnight, and times when a predator becomes a problem. Your fox will return, unless he's too injured or dead. Lock your flock in their safe place until he's gone! We had a very bad day a few years ago; ten nice laying hens killed one afternoon by a sick fox, seen by a workman who was next door, who did nothing except watch. We talked to all the neighbors, especially those with birds, kept our in, and set traps. A few days later one of the neighbors was able to shoot him, solving the problem. Never relocate!!! Mary
  3. critterkeeper25

    critterkeeper25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for your reply.I'm going to look up Premier poultry netting right now. We have a very safe coop and run. The chickens have been in all week. Today, my husband let them out, he's been outside with them all day tending to his bee hives. Would they come sneaking about and get to the chickens while we are outside around them?
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    They can be very sneaky...and are difficult to trap, regular live traps rarely work unless they are set up carefully.
    Check out the threads in this BYC search, I remember reading some pretty good info:
    Advanced search>titles only>trapping fox

    The poultry netting is probably your best bet for future ranging..... especially since you already have hot wire, and a charger, for the horses.
    @JackE had massive fox problem until he put up hot net.

    You might also just harass the fox den daily, make them feel it's not the best place to live.
    Find all entrances to den, toss some rocks or stuff down the holes, semi cover the holes with some long grasses or strings so you can tell if they've been back in there.

    Keeping the birds in the run for a few weeks is a good idea, until the fox realizes 'no more meals here'.
    Sorry for your loss, a terrible thing to witness.
  5. critterkeeper25

    critterkeeper25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for your reply and for the link to fox trapping. Looks like it's amlost impossible to trap red fox with a live trap. My husband was talking about looking into leg traps but I told him he better look into Fish and Game laws for our area first. Plus, we have a multitude of local cats that patrol our property on a regular basis. ( None of which seem to bother the chickens, though the hens are only out in the daytime and the cats at night) I wouldn't want to trap someones pet and suffer the consequences for it.

    I am wondering how large an area we would need to fence in in order to free range 14 hens on a daily basis.
  6. alisonjones89

    alisonjones89 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 25, 2014
    Colorful Colorado
    My husband and I moved to our house in rural Colorado in October of 2014, and in the last year we have lost eight hens to a pair of punk red foxes. My husband has a wildlife degree and works in the field. I wouldn't waste your time even attempting a live trap. In lots of cases, if a fox gets caught in a leg trap, it will chew its own leg off to get free. Put a few rounds in it with the .22, then run over its den with the tractor.

    If that isn't an option, I would make sure the hens are locked up at night. Even though we haven't seen a fox in months, we still lock ours up at night because there are plenty of coyotes and skunks out there. Foxes are nocturnal, so I would not worry about your hens during peak daylight hours. I leave the gate open for my 11 hens in the morning so they can roam, and I don't get back until around 5pm. We have never had an issue during the day, but with it getting darker earlier, I lock them up when I get home.

    As far as the fencing goes, I've read on here that 10 sq ft per chicken for an outside run is good. Electric is always a good option, just make sure that the bottom is secured with hardware cloth, chain link, etc. A fox can easily dig under poultry netting too. They can also climb well, so you may want to consider covering the top.
  7. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  8. jaxchic

    jaxchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2013
    It isn't as hard as people think it is to trap a fox. I have trapped four foxes over the last two years. Three reds, and one gray. Each time I used a dead chicken or guinea as bait. It has to be a fresh kill. I would have taken your killed hen and used her in a large dog trap. Make sure to tie a leg to the bottom of the trap so the animal has to really fuss with it and doesn't step over the pedal and just grab it and run. Put the trap alongside the edge of your property line where the foxes are coming from.
    Here are some pics of the three I have caught this year alone. [​IMG]


  9. alisonjones89

    alisonjones89 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 25, 2014
    Colorful Colorado
    I guess I'll consider myself lucky that I have not had any fox attacks during the day. Just giving my two cents!
  10. rockriver

    rockriver Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 27, 2015
    Snares at den entrance

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