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Top tips for a fox-proof chicken coop

With summer very nearly here it’s time hen keepers ensure they have a fox-proof chicken coop. 

We all love lighter evenings and now the sun has decided to put in an appearance your hens may want to stay out and party with you a little later than usual. 

However, as reluctant as they may be to go to bed of an evening, it’s vital you ensure they are tucked in safely with their coop shut, even throughout the summer. 

Remember, chickens are prey animals and can be easy pickings for a variety of predators, especially foxes, so it is up to us to keep them safe. 

This information is not intended to put any budding hen keepers off adding some feathery friends to their family; however, as pet owners it is our duty to protect them. 

Foxes are chicken predators 

Fox cubs which were born in March and remained in the den with the vixen will now be able to eat solid food and the parents will be hunting to provide for themselves and their cubs. 

At this time of year we sometimes receive calls from devastated owners who have woken to an empty coop, but probably the most dangerous time of day is early evening/dusk when foxes will take hens in the dwindling daylight. 

How to ensure a fox proof chicken coop 

No matter what type of housing you have, a secure run is essential especially if you will be out at work during the day. Fencing is of course essential, but it’s also important to make it high. Foxes can jump, so fencing should be at least five feet high and include an outward-facing apron of fencing at the bottom to prevent chicken predators from digging underneath. 

While secure fencing is a must, there is no substitute for vigilance and security. A fence is only as strong as its weakest point so routine checks are a must. Do shut your hens away at night and ensure that any electric fences that run off batteries have a good power source. 

Other chicken predators to watch out for 

Hen keepers living near open moorland should also be aware of aerial predators such as Red Kites; a netted run is a must in these situations. 

Badgers and mink can also be a danger and hen houses should be robust with any damage repaired and houses well maintained. 

Anecdotally foxes are sensitive to strong smells. Placing Zoo Poo compost around the perimeter of your run has been suggested as a deterrent to help keep them away.

The bottom line on foxes 

Please don’t let any of this put you off keeping hens. Many people will never encounter a fox during their entire time keeping hens and much of this is down to location. 

Just as with any other pet, a few measures taken at the start of your hen keeping journey will be enough to keep them safe throughout their lives with you. 

There is no finer sight than seeing a flock of hens dust bathing or sunbathing with outstretched wings on a fine summer’s day. 

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