Foxes are tenacious animals. They will check their territory, and the prey within it, daily if possible. If a chook pen (or a duck pen) is within their territory they will check it out for any weaknesses, for any way possible to get in probably everytime they are able to get near. They don’t give up. Now that we longer have any alpacas guarding the place, and only a Jack Russell who prefers to sleep in the laundry, we’ve had a number of fox attacks. Everytime, we try to figure out how it happens and we fix it: once the gate was left open a wee bit, once the trampoline had been moved too close to the walls of the run, and once (and only once) we forgot to lock the birds in their shed.
Once on a Sunday morning I walked out to the chook-run I noticed the gate had banged itself open only a wee bit in the windy night and the shed was still closed, but there were feathers everywhere. My heart sank. Before I opened the shed I walked around it, and found about 4 different attempts to dig under…all thwarted by an iron tent peg, a brick or stone. But there was one gap about 6 inches long that missed a peg, between two bricks…and that is where they had dug in and dragged out every chicken I had except for a badly shocked Orpington. Dragging her out would have been like trying to get your head into a sock!
At the time I was home alone, and I felt broken and weary. I checked forums and read about the same pain felt by other poultry owners, the same hatred of foxes. Pretty animals that they are, I am not saddened to see them squashed on the road because their ability to randomly infiltrate and destroy. And it’s not like they are limited to the rural areas either (or four legs for that matter: I seem to have two legged foxes doing what they can to bring me undone in insidious ways also)…I recall a night in the city when a chooky screech got me up and outside still asleep, only to see a fox scale an 8 foot fence with absolute ease and grace. He had killed every single hen I had, and then he returned the next night and tried to get the cat and the rabbit!
Reading those forums, I had some comfort that UK poultry owners had exactly the same feelings I was having, but in the UK foxes are protected animals. Over there foxes are as likely to strike during the day, and are unafraid and cunning enough to attack even with people about. Many people as a result have electric fencing around their backyard birds…the kids get used to it after a while.
So, I have bought concrete blocks and filled the floor of the shed in, I am buying a better latch for the gate, and I will be netting the roof of the run…somehow. It’s all I can do, but I won’t give up. What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger…and hopefully smarter.
It’s three and a half weeks later, I just went to let the chooks out and found that foxes AGAIN have attempted to dig under…there were 5 different attempts that I could find…the biggest hole was in the same spot as the one last time that they’d dragged the chooks out of. They had even managed to dig a brick out! Happy to report, the concrete block floor did its job, and all five hens were safe and hungry! The blocks didn’t even move, or fall in! A success! Now to figure out how the blighters are getting into the run…I’m thinking netting the top of the run will be this weekend’s job.
But just to point out: foxes never tried to dig under in the four years we’ve been here…and then did it with great success three weeks ago…now they’ve tried it a second time, so now I need to expect that digging will always be a part of their M.O.