Foxes are among the most despised predators for chicken owners and in rural areas, foxes are a part of life. Protecting your chickens from foxes and other wild animals is an essential part of owning chickens.
I wouldn’t say we live in the countryside but we are right on the edge in a small town where foxes, deer, and other wild animals are often seen looking for food.
There are a few things that you can do to help protect your chickens from foxes. One of the best ways is to make sure that your chickens are in a secure coop or run. You can also install a fence around the coop or run, and make sure that it is tall enough to keep the foxes out. Additionally, you can use deterrents, such as motion-activated lights or sprinklers, to scare away the foxes.
The key to keeping your hens safe from these animals is security. Now don’t worry, we’re not going to recommend you hire a bouncer to protect your hens! Its just important that you take the necessary precautions to keep your chickens safe. Read on for my most popular methods for Protecting Your Chickens From Foxes
How Can You Protect Your Chickens From Foxes?
Beyond simply killing the hens, other damaging repercussions result from foxes attacking your flock of chickens. The remaining chickens will likely be traumatized and may stop laying eggs altogether. So what will keep foxes away from chickens?
ways to keep foxes away from chickens
- Predator-proof fencing
- Electric fence
- Automatic sprinklers
- Protect with a livestock guard animal
- Set traps
- Motion sensor security lighting
- Patrol at odd hours to keep them on their toes
- Bright flashing lights
- Ultrasonic sound as a repellent
- Keep the space tidy
- Keep a neat landscape
- Mix up your poultry flock
- Keep your chickens in a routine
- Lock up your chickens at night
- Regularly check for weaknesses in your coop
- Fox repellent
Before we get to the prevention list, there are a few important things to know.
To Defeat The Fox, You Need To Know The Fox!
There are red foxes throughout every state in the US, except Florida. Similar to other chicken predators, red foxes will hunt in the early morning or late evening, and they’re known to travel up to 10 miles in a single night in search of food. A mated pair of red foxes with cubs can consume up to 12 chickens in a single week.
Foxes are intelligent enough to monitor your property and become familiar with your routines. They frequently attack when your guard is down, and your chickens are unguarded and vulnerable.
Despite being about the size of a small dog, foxes can scale a high fence and even leap 15 ft. in the air. However, they are more inclined to dig a small hole to gain access to your hens.
How Can You Tell That A Fox Is Eating Your Chickens?
You will often have a bird disappear without a trace or perhaps only leave a few distinguishing feathers.
Foxes often attack free-range chickens one at a time. They will drag the chicken to their den or a nearby hiding spot. A mother fox will typically take her prey back to her cubs.
Since foxes are nocturnal animals most attacks happen in the early morning hours or evening (while you are sound asleep) rather than in broad daylight. When they are certain you are not present, that’s when they attack
Signs That A Fox is The Likely Culprit
· A hole dug underneath the fence
· The chicken fence wire has been chewed
· Scat left in exposed locations (the appearance varies, but it resembles a coyote’s, only smaller)
· There is very little or no evidence of blood or an attack. You will only see a few scattered feathers
· Only one or two chickens are missing
Foxes are cunning predators that will go to great lengths to get their prey. If they see a chicken, they will do everything possible to catch it, including digging their way into the chicken house or trying to break in through the wiring.
So, how do you keep chickens safe from foxes?
Ways To Protect Your Chickens From Foxes
It helps to keep your backyard chickens safe if you have a strong fox-proof chicken coop or chicken tractor to keep a hungry fox away from your chickens.
1. Predator-proof Fencing
Fencing is the most effective way to keep any predator away from your chickens and that includes foxes. Even if you live in the city and believe you are protected, your chickens are constantly at risk of being attacked while roaming free.
A simple chicken wire fence will not keep a determined fox out. The fencing needs to be at least 6 ft. high, made of wire mesh, and buried 18 inches underground to prevent predators from digging their way in. Even a small gap creates weak points for an opportunistic fox with a strong sense of smell and cunning. Any other weak points, such as windows, can also be strengthened with hardwire mesh.
Burying the chicken wire straight:
This method is ok for smaller areas of the run, it takes a little less time and is still very effective but we still think that the second option is preferable in most cases
Burying the chicken wire at a 90-degree angle:
This is the better option of the two, the chicken wire covers a whole meter of the ground and has proven to be very “fox-proof”. Using this method does require some more digging but it provides more protection for the chickens. Also, you don’t have to worry about any of this if your coop is based on concrete.
When securing chicken wire into the ground, we found the most efficient method to be using U-clips. They are easily nailed in with a hammer and are perfect for securing the fence.
Note On The Quality of chicken wire
This seems quite simple but the quality of your chicken wire actually plays an important role in making your coop “fox proof”. Chicken wire is designed to keep your chickens inside, however, not all chicken wire is designed to keep foxes from staying outside. If a fox is really hungry, he’ll gnaw and chew and desperately try to get through the wire if there is food on the other side.
Lots of regular chicken wire won’t be able to cope under this pressure, this is why we only use really strong galvanized steel chicken wire. This stuff is like brick, it is so tough and keeps the chickens inside and the predators outside.
2. Electric Fencing
If you have a lot of land, consider using an electric fence to create a perimeter around the property. Electric fencing is one of the most effective ways to keep predators out, including foxes.
We were quite resistant to the idea of electric fences for both the chickens and foxes. Although foxes are a nuisance they are still only wild animals acting on instinct, so we didn’t want to cause any harm to them.
This is the biggest misconception about electric fences, the fence will give the chickens and foxes a mild harmless shock when they try to exit/enter the run and create a physiological barrier in their minds which in most cases they will be too afraid of to even go near again.
If you are not familiar with electric fencing, it is a system that uses an electric current to deter animals from entering a certain area. The current is not strong enough to kill the animal, but it will give them a nasty shock that will deter them from trying to enter the area again.
Electric netting is more effective than strands. The electrified netting stops foxes from chewing through or passing beneath a strand to reach the henhouse. Electric netting is effective for creating a safe outdoor space for your chickens and is simple to relocate to new grass. I recommend the RentACoop Poultry Netting Electric Fence available on Amazon
3. Install Automatic Sprinklers
Movement-activated sprinklers can help keep foxes away from your hens since they spray water on any nearby animals. To prevent getting your birds wet, ensure the hen house is waterproof. However, this technique keeps your chickens safe in their henhouse, not while roaming outside.
4. Protect With A Livestock Guard Animal
One way to protect your free-range flock is by using a livestock guard animal such as a donkey, llama, or dog. These animals will bond with the chickens and will warn them of any predators that come near. When they sense danger they will make loud noises to alert the chickens and scare off the predator.
Dogs are great at protecting chickens from foxes and more often than not the scent of a dog is enough of a deterrent. However, some foxes are so cunning that they frequently just lay low until your dogs go inside before making their move.
If foxes pose a significant threat to your chickens, you might need to consider getting a specific livestock guard dog. Popular chicken-guarding dog breeds include the Bull Mastiff, Anatolian Shepherd, and Kangal. These breeds of dogs are extremely protective and will chase away any nearby predators.
Overall, though, dogs are a good fox deterrent and they will live in perfect harmony with chickens if trained correctly, to learn more about this, check out our article: Can I keep chickens with a dog or cat.
5. Set Traps
If you want to get rid of the fox for good, you can set traps. Once the fox is caught, you can either release it far away from your property or put it down.
There are different types of traps available such as live traps, leg-hold traps, and cage traps. I recommend using a live trap so you can release the fox unharmed.
Foxes can be highly suspicious so use precautionary measures to disguise any trap. To increase your chances of catching the fox, bait the trap with raw chicken or bacon. Once the fox is caught, you can either release it far away from your property or put it down.
6. Motion Sensor Security Lighting
Foxes can be deterred from hens using solar LED deterrent lights with a motion sensor. The sudden light will startle the fox and make it think twice about attacking your chickens. You can install them close to your chicken coop and chicken run, and they will activate automatically at night.
The main drawback is that foxes can also hunt during the day, and this device performs best at dusk. At least knowing your chicks are safe at night will allow you to sleep well!
7. Patrol at Odd Hours To Keep Them On Guard
You’re more likely to catch foxes in the act if you take a random stroll at different times. As a result, foxes will become weary and stay away; consequently, your chickens will be safe. Even if foxes aren’t assaulting your hens, using this tactic will keep them away.
8. Bright Flashing Lights
In rural locations, flashing lights may be effective at frightening foxes (I don’t think your neighbors in urban areas will thank you if you use this method).
According to studies, red lights are the most effective lights to use since they are viewed as eyes. These are less effective in metropolitan areas where foxes are acclimated to lamps and traffic signals.
9. Use Ultrasonic Sound As A Repellent
Foxes find the frequency produced by these specific sound boxes to be extremely off-putting, and they frequently flee the vicinity. There are a lot of ultrasonic products on the market right now. They are inexpensive and simple to use, which is a plus.
Remember that they only function if the fox is within hearing distance of the sound box. Additionally, when it’s raining, the sound can be dampened.
10. Reduce hiding spots in your yard/garden
Maintaining a clean, clutter-free yard is crucial to keeping unwanted creatures at bay. You don’t want to provide foxes or other predators with a convenient hiding place.
Foxes may safely stake out your chickens in even the simplest pile of brush or wood. Maintain order and cleanliness to lessen the draw of your yard.
11. Keep A Neat Landscape
Apart from keeping your yard tidy keeping a neat landscape can increase your chickens’ safety. Maintaining mowed and debris-free areas around barns and gardens will deter predators from visiting.
Foxes utilize rock barriers, dense forests, and brush piles to conceal themselves and sneak up on unsuspecting victims. You must be more astute by making it harder to hunt on your land!
12. Mix Up Your Poultry Flock
A mixed flock of poultry (especially geese or guinea fowl) is a clever technique. Geese are excellent guard animals and will diligently protect chickens in their area. Foxes may view geese as prey, yet geese can defend themselves. A goose is a tough bird and can be an effective solution against predators.
13. Keep your chickens in a routine
If you have free-ranging chickens, you should only let them out between midday and midafternoon. Chickens respond rather well to patterns. Please do not feed your hens early in the morning, instead, wait until full daylight to let them out to feed and forage.
At about four o’clock, call the hens in, to lock them up for the night and to feed them.
14. Lock up your chickens at night
Every night, without fail, you should make an effort to lock your chickens up. Foxes will wait for the one occasion when you forget to lock your hens up and then seize the chance. This is crucial if your chickens have access points to their coop or are allowed to roam free during the day.
15. Regularly check for weaknesses in your coop
Foxes are notorious for their cunning minds and if there are weak points in your coop, such as holes and tears, they will sniff them out. Performing regular checks as part of your chicken routine is a reasonable precaution especially if you live in a rural area.
We’ll take a look at our coop every couple of months to make sure that everything is secure and that there are no easy access points into the coop.
16. Fox repellent
Using fox repellent is a good solution, especially if you live in areas with a high fox population.
You’ll have to use it quite regularly in order for it to be effective but this varies depending on what type and brand of fox repellent you use.
Most fox repellents either come in the form of a spray or a packet that contains a powder that you dissolve and then water your garden/coop with.
A fox repellent works by imitating the scent of another creature that is guarding its territory, this is a cheap and fairly effective way of dealing with foxes and in most cases, it will work well. However, a desperate fox will go to desperate measures and you’ll need something like an electric fence to deter it.
By following these steps, you will be sure to protect your chickens from foxes. Remember that being proactive is the key to keeping your chickens safe. Always think like a predator to keep ahead of them!
How High Should Fences be to keep out foxes?
This is another one that seems obvious but is very important for two reasons. Firstly, because you don’t want the fence to be so short that a fox could potentially jump inside and secondly, because you don’t want your chickens to fly outside the coop! If chickens’ wings go unclipped, they’ll eventually be able to fly/hover for very short distances and they can escape!
The fences we have on our coop are around 8 feet each, this is probably overkill, but we wanted a walk-in coop and the height was just an added bonus!
That being said the average fox won’t be able to jump higher than a few feet, so if your coop is 5 feet or 6 feet in height, you’ve probably got nothing to worry about.
David Cameron is a passionate chicken enthusiast. Growing up, he always wanted to be a veterinarian and loved animals. After graduating from veterinary school, David spent over 40 years as an equine veterinarian. He and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to North Carolina. Here, David’s love of chickens grew even more – he now has 7 chickens and 6 quail. If you have any questions about chickens, feel free to reach out.