We have been very lucky as chicken keepers that for the last six years we have not a visit from a fox, or at least not a successful one.
Sadly that has changed, three days ago, my favourite hen was killed by a fox. (I won't go into details, its not nice) she was in separate quarters from the others as she had been poorly and was getting the first class, five star treatment and was fully restored to health. She had enjoyed her time so much in her special quarters that she preferred them to home and when let out to roam on a daily basis went back to her new nesting site, rather than her old home.
The night after, hubby and I were discussing the problem of the fox and how it was most probably a vixen as she would be getting more desperate at this time of the year as she will be feeding pups, along with how she would be back. Just at that moment, son no.1 came tearing down the stairs screaming there is a fox in the chicken run.
And we all went racing out, (well I didn't I let the men go first) and sure enough we had a captive fox in the hen run. We also had screaming chickens. There was much running back and forth of the fox and the chickens, whilst the fox tried to get out when realising the humans and their dogs (who were useless by the way) were about.
The fox managed to escape and we were left with completely traumatised chickens. One of which had escaped and was hiding in the garden, which is very small, but at that time of night very dark and it took us several minutes to find her.
We settled them down for the night, locking them in their house. We had always thought our hen run was fox proof, which clearly it wasn't. So had allowed our hens the freedom of their pop hole to be left open.
The next morning the chickens were opened up, they all seemed fine physically, mentally though, well, I've never seen anything like it before. They remained on their perches and even though I was wandering into the garden regularly, given them encouraging pep talks they told me very firmly that they were staying where they were. And they didn't move off their perches until 2.30 p.m. This morning they took an hour to come out. They are normally full of the joys and out at first light.
Hubby has put more reinforcements in and around the hen house, closing up the tiniest of gaps.
I wonder whether the urban fox, especially the female, feeding pups urban fox is becoming more desperate as now there are no sacks of rubbish around containing food as all refuse has to be contained in the new black bins. This is not a good reason to feed them. They need to get back to the country side otherwise it won't just be hen keepers that suffer, cat owners will too.
I'll leave you with a quick photo of two of our hens. You can clearly see how the feathers were flying.
special effects - [Wakefield, Upper Westgate (1896) Louis Hubbard Grimshaw - poor photograph on the BBC site] Dusk from the outside, when the lights in shop and house windows ...
1 day ago