A fox attack is something all hen keepers have nightmares about but, sadly, it is sometimes a reality that comes with having feathered friends as pets.
As much as we all like to think our hen houses and coops are fully secure, sometimes foxes just find a way of getting in and causing havoc, especially during the summer with longer days.
Foxes are also becoming bolder, making it more likely they will attack during the day or late afternoon than any other times.
Whether you’ve witnessed a fox coming into the garden or seen the aftermath of an attack it can be traumatising for you and your flock to deal with. For tips on how to prevent predators, check out our article here.
But what do you do after you’ve experienced a fox attack? Here are our top tips.
Check for hiding hens after a fox attack
Once you’ve discovered that a fox has paid your hens a visit, your first instinct will of course be to pick up any injured birds and tend to them first. It is then easy to assume that any hens you cannot find have been taken away by the fox.
However, a rehomer flagged up to us that she had walked around her paddock three times looking for missing hens after a fox attack, and even though the grass was short she did not notice until the final walk around that one had tucked herself right into a clump of grass at the fence line.
Give your garden or free-range area a thorough check after a fox attack in case there are any hens hiding. Always check for random feathers and follow the trail – you may still be able to save a hen that the fox would come back for. Try calling your hens names, even if traumatised and hiding they will usually make a little noise to say “here I am, come and get me”.
Find out how the fox was able to get in
To make sure this doesn’t happen again, begin to inspect your hen enclosure for any damage. By figuring out how the fox was able to get to the hens, you can put preventative measures in place to stop them coming back. Maybe they were able to get underneath the fencing, or even through a gap you didn’t realise was there.
Foxes are good climbers too, so if there is a tree or climbable fence close to the top of your enclosure, it is possible they were able to get in that way. By placing netting on top of your enclosure, you can reduce the risk of foxes getting in from above.
Check the durability of your hen house as well as the outside perimeter. Check for loose or slideable panels. We recently had a rehomer tell us how a fox was able to lift the bottom panel of a raised hen house up enough to get its head inside.
Check your surviving hens for shock and injury
This horrible ordeal is very likely to cause the surviving hens a lot of shock. They will be out of sort for a long while after and will need you to coax them back into a calmer state. The best way to do this is to put them somewhere secure and quiet for a day or so, making sure they stick together and you soothe them as much as possible.
Once in a quiet spot, you should try to access each hen for any obvious wounds. If they have been injured, it’s best to take them to see a hen-friendly vet who can check whether the wound is superficial or has caused internal damage.