All About Chicken Predators

All You Need To Know About Protecting Your Chickens


Foxes

The fox is the classic predator of the chicken. The term fox is used to describe 27 different species across the globe. In western countries, the term 'fox' normally refers to the red fox.

Distribution: North America, North and Middle Asia, Europe, including the UK and introduced to Australia. There are a few islands in these regions where they have not reached, such as Bardsey off the coast of Wales. Common in both rural and urban areas.

Prey: The fox will catch and kill chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, lambs, piglets, guinea pigs (cavies), rabbits, pigeons and even cats. When they get into a coop full of poultry, they will not just kill one, but get into a killing frenzy as the frightened birds flap around. It is not uncommon for one fox to wipe out 100 chickens in a night. They pose a disease risk to your animals as they can carry mange and rabies, and red foxes can get mange. They will also tear open plastic rubbish sacks and create a large mess - they really are vermin.

Control: Legalities vary by Country and State, so check before you do anything potentially illegal.
Trapping and shooting is usually best. To kill a fox you will need a .22 rifle at least. Live traps are preferable so that you don't kill non-target species, such as cats. Incidently, I hear a cat will never get caught in the same trap twice as they learn. The same goes for foxes, and other predators, so don't catch it and have a change of heart or you will be creating problems for your neighbours as neither you nor they will be able to trap it again.

Here is an excellent link on how to use the hay set, best used in snow, and the steel trap. Both can also be used in the control of coyotes. Please check what kind of traps are legal where you live.

You can also shoot at night, using a method called lamping.

In the UK, killing foxes with hounds is now, unfortunately illegal. However, you can use up to two dogs to flush out a fox for shooting, and as many hounds as you like to flush a fox out for a bird of prey to kill. However, despite it being illegal, there are still around 350 hunts in the UK that go out regularly, and claim not to be breaking the law. Some animal rights organisations say they are, and have taken on the self-appointed role of hunt inspectors, owing to the fact that the police have said that policing hunts is a low priority. Since the Hunting Act came into force in 2004, there have only been about 5 convictions, so you are pretty safe. However, I do not condone breaking the law and I am not encouraging anyone to do as such.

Hunting with hounds is legal in the US and there are around 150 hunts across the country. Some hunt coyotes instead of foxes.

How Do I Know It Was A Fox?
Necks broken, several gone, patch of feathers on the ground, which could be away from the coop/run, sometimes head missing after the head has been pulled through a fence. You may find a chunk of feathers missing from the neck area. If there is a bird missing these feathers, it has had a very lucky escape. Also, in both live and dead birds, there may be a piece of flesh taken from the vent area of the chicken. If a chicken with these injuries (called "fox bites") is found, it must be taken to your vet to be sewn up unless you have the skills to do it yourself. Foxes may have either tunneled in or jumped over the top of a fence (they can jump very high, clearing 8 foot with no difficulty).


A Red Fox in a Garden


Red Fox Head Study


A Juvenile Red Fox


A red fox investigates a pet rabbit in Birmingham, England


Silver Fox
Photo courtesy of sybilsden.com

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/21/Foxprint.jpg/180px-Foxprint.jpg
Fox Paw Print



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