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First predator attack!

 
Tony Hill
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We bought 30 chicks last year, and had 100% success. The meat birds became delicious meat as did some of the roosters. The hens are reliable, high-production layers. No hawks, coons or foxes have taken any birds. Well one year to the day that we brought the chicks home, we had our first predator incident.

Early Sunday morning, around 6, I heard the hens squabbling. I thought, "Wow, those roosters are jumping on the hens early," but when I looked out the window, I saw a FOX zooming around the yard, chasing chickens!!! I opened the door and yelled, "KATIE!!! GET IT!!! And from a dead-sleep, our German Shepherd was out the door and in pursuit! But the fox escaped before I could get a gun.

There were feathers on the ground in several places, but everyone was there. There were a couple of tattered and frightened looking reds, though. But COOL!!! No casualties! At least not then...

Later that afternoon, broad daylight, chickens roaming all over as usual, I noticed a white bird missing. I did a head count... HEY...... Where is number 15 She was GONE. That sly fox picked her off in the middle of the day! So now we have a fox problem.


This is partly our fault. Long ago, I stopped locking the chickens into their house at night. And they are FAR roamers, going as far as about 1/4 mile away in either direction. And with all the snow and rain, we have been letting our dog Katie stay in the house at night. So I know we were asking for it. But I HATE that this time has come.

I asked a farmer friend how he gets rid of foxes, and he uses a recording of a rabbit in distress. He says that you turn that thing on, and within minutes, any foxes in the area WILL show up, then you just have to make sure NOT to miss.

BUT... I've also heard that you can use a shotgun and very fine bird shot, and pepper the fox in the hindquarters with it, and that the experience will keep him from coming back, and that he will also keep other foxes away.

Does anyone have any experience in this area? Is it better to kill them or just scare them away? Everyone around here says that once a fox kills one chicken, they will keep coming back.

Thanks as usual.

-TH
 
Tony Hill
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Oh, I almost forgot...

What I think may have drawn the fox to the yard is the fact that one of our hens was sitting on 8 eggs eggs that were due to hatch last weekend. It was past the 3 week mark, and we were expecting her to come out with the little peepers when I caught the fox. Got a bad feeling, and went under there to look, and everything was GONE. No eggs, shells or chicks. Bummer.


But at least the hen wasn't taken. She's now laid another clutch of I think 4 eggs. I guess we will see what happens in three weeks.


-TH
 
James Graham
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Location: Cranston, Rhode Island
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I had a run in with a fox about a week and a half ago.
I let the chickens and ducks out around 5:45 and went inside. Right after, I heard all kinds of noise outside. The fox was chasing a hen and being chased by
a couple of my roosters. By the time I grabbed by gun, three roosters were giving him all he could handle. I went outside and fired as he was running across a field and he dropped
for a moment and limped off to the woods. I figured he would succumb to his injuries.
I lost three of my four roosters, who were awesome in defense of their hens, due to injuries. 2 Dorkings and a Speckled Sussex rooster.

Three days later, again right after letting them out for the morning, I spotted a fox carting a Muscovy hen off to the woods. I doubt it was the same one but
maybe I didn't get him as cleanly as I thought. If it was the same fox, then it didn't scare, or he didn't tell his friends to stay away.
 
Tony Hill
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James,
Thanks for the reply, and very sorry to hear about your fox troubles!

What kind of gun did you hit it with?

A fox is pretty small, and I would think any kind of hit would really slow it down, especially within a 3-day period. Maybe it was the mate of the first one, or possibly one from a previous litter, if you've had problems in the past. Have you had predator problems for long?

I've gone back to locking the birds up until 7-8 AM, and I have the shotgun leaning up next to the front door. But borrowing that wounded rabbit call is sounding better and better!

-TH

 
James Graham
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Location: Cranston, Rhode Island
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Hi Tony,

I used a .22 as it was the closest available. I have readied a shotgun in case of future disturbances.

This was a first with a fox. Usually it is hawks or coyotes. I believe the hawks stay at bay cause the Muscovies are large and are always mingled with the chickens.
The coyotes have only nocturnal visits. They try their hardest to dig under the ducks pen but I laid chicken wire just under the soil. This seems to deter them after
a few failed attempts.

Jim
 
Nathan Paris
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Humans are animals and what do animals do to mark their territory? Next time you need to pee just go outside and do it around the chicken coop, or just pee into a bottle and take it out there and dump it around the coop. We do this often and we have not had any predator issues at all. Every neighbor that we talk to can not keep chickens due to the predators around here, so we really feel like this works. Its just a little unusual
 
Tony Hill
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Jim,
I would think a .22 rifle hit would make a fox lay down for a while, even if you just winged him. Probably the mate of the first one, I would guess, or possibly it just barely touched him. I've got the shotgun ready with some #7 shot, which will kill close up, but would probably only sting him at any kind of distance. I like the idea of simply scaring them, but allowing them to live, to "guard" ther/our territory from new foxes.

We hear coyotes every night, but interestingly, we have only lost cats, and only during very snowy periods. Around here, there is an open-season on coyotes, and a $15 bounty for their pelts, if you want to go through the trouble of turning them in. There are a LOT of them around here, in VA.


Kevin,
Actually, that doesn't sound strange at all. I will remember that next time I need a "tree."

We, also have not had any problems until now, while all our neighbors have crazy fortresses for their birds, and still lose them regularly. We have a light-duty fence around the yard, and I think that first layer has helped, as does the dog. I guess the "pee defense" couldn't hurt! I'd rather not kill anything, but I absolutely will, if they keep coming back.

-TH
 
Bill Ramsey
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I'm sorry that you're having troubles with them and I hope marking the territory works. I've got to try that too. I've only lost one in the past year until last night. Four were killed by something and I imagine it was a fox, based on the size of the scat left behind. My head rooster was one of the victims and I can tell the flock is going to give me a few problems without his leadership. The oldest remaining roo is more likely to wander off property if I don't keep them all contained. I planned to set my hav-a-heart trap with tuna since I caught a fox with it once before when I was after dozens of stray cats. Tomorrow!!! For sure!
 
Tony Hill
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What do you do with the fox after you catch it?

Here, things are getting a bit strange... Looked under the trailer, where "Mama bird" has her nest, and now there are NO eggs.

So this is at least two clutches of eggs that are gone now, but if it was the fox, you would THINK it would take the hen too, right?

Wondering if it's not a young possum. We had one stealing eggs at night last year.

Starting to wonder if free-ranging is such a good idea. Thinking of making the pen bigger and more sturdy, and keeping them in there permanently.

 
John Polk
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Starting to wonder if free-ranging is such a good idea.

Free ranging is a good idea if you have a secure coop for them to lay/roost in.

There are very few areas of the world where chicken predators do not exist.
In the wild, chickens roost in trees. But nest on the ground.
If you want eggs (or chicks), you need a secure exclusion zone.
 
Tony Hill
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John,
The coop is secure, and no more nights indoors for the dog, so the foxes should stay away.

The real problem is that the chickens DESTROYED our garden last year. Not to mention all the poop, and the fact that they are now walking several hundred yards outside our fenceline to terrorize our neighbors, their cat-bowls and their gardens.

These birds are bullies! It's time for them to go to jail.

Well today is the first day in the new, hastily erected pen. Came home this afternoon to find ALL of the birds out. Found a spot where the wire went around the base of a big tree, and I had forgotten to staple it down, and you could see where they went under. So I repaired the spot, and lured them back in with food.

So far, NO escapees.

This is step 1 of the chicken penitentiary. More wire, posts and netting to follow!
This year, we ARE going to have tomatoes, blueberries and vegetables. They have a big patch of woods to call their own. They had better get used to it!

-TH
 
John Polk
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These birds are bullies! It's time for them to go to jail.

Jail? Is that what you call your oven? LOL
 
Tony Hill
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Ha ha!

My wife found a crock-pot recipe called Coq au vin, which means "Cock in wine" that is AMAZING! Basically, you take a tough old bird, season it, and put in two cups of red wine, with bacon, mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic, and let it simmer on low for 8-10 hours.

It sounded like it was going to end up being a soggy grey mess, but it turned out fork-tender, sweet, succulent and delicious! It's AMAZING how good it makes an old rooster taste! One of my new fav recipes! Interestingly, at first you couldn't really taste the wine in the recipe, (I don't like wine taste very much) but when re-heated as leftovers, the wine flavor becomes more pronounced. (Which my wife likes)

Either way, it's a delicious way to prepare an old bird.

-TH

 
mick mclaughlin
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I would highly recommend tractors. I know paddocks are popular on here, and while I do use them some in orchards after the fruit is through, I strongly prefer large , light tractors. I would post a pic of one I just built, if I could figure out how?!

They work for broilers and layers, and can be moved by hand daily or twice daily. Not feasible if ya have hundreds of layers, but perfect for less then 100
 
Tony Hill
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To post pictures, click on the "Post Reply" button at the bottom of the page. (NOT the quick reply)

Type your text, then right below where you type in the text, there are two tabs, "Options" and next to it, "Attachments". Click on "Attachments."
Then you will see a button that says "Choose file" Click on that.
Then find the pictures in your computer, click on them, and hit "upload". Done.

Let us know how it works for you.

That being said, we don't have a lot of open areas for a tractor. Our yard is mostly driveway, garden and woods, with minimal lawn areas. This big pen is probably going to be the way to go, in this particular situation, and for this many birds. (we just got 24 more) I really don't want to spend my days moving chickens around.

-TH
 
mick mclaughlin
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well I could only add one pic. Like I said, modified salatin pen. Mine are 3' tall , instead of 2', with a 4' tall house. I add roosts for my heritage birds, and nest boxes, when using for hens. I like it because it is completely mobile, no dolly needed, and it is enclosed. It is built on a 3' grid, so no wasted material. 9' x 12'. Big enough for 75 cornish x or 50 heritage meat birds maximum, or around 25-30 hens. They cost about $200, if you have to buy all materials. Back of shed is hinged, and top is hinged on either side. I use homemade trough type feeders and sit two conventional water containers on ground. I am not particularly happy with my water set up.

I lease land for all my farming. I can not baby sit birds against predators. I move them once every two days early, up to twice a day later on.

It aint perfect, but it works. I am gonna try a few turkeys in one this summer.
chick cruiser 2.jpg
[Thumbnail for chick cruiser 2.jpg]
 
Debbi Matz
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Your egg-eater could be a mink or ermine (weasel)...but... It is strange the critter has not gone after the hens, so, a snake or rat may be taking the eggs?

Debbi
 
norm graham
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You and I are NOT smarter then a hungry fox.
He will not stop until he has killed them all.
What I do is trap the preditor and remove it. But, lets be honest....you like chicken...your fox likes chicken....You have that much in common...
It's very hard to keep things out of the hen house, and I've even constructed a new one on a concrete base to prevent losses....eventually they were still all killed, because they want to get out and spend time in the yard. Others have used "double" fences.
 
Jeff Mathias
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Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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That is the problem with fowl, everything thinks they are tasty. I am currently raising geese, turkeys and chickens.

I think you need electric net fencing: something like this: http://www.kencove.com/fence/Electric+Net+Fencing_detail_NPCG.php
It is not cheap but exceptionally effective. Get a better charger than you need. When you first turn it on run it hot and fast 24/7 for at least a week. After that you can probably get away with more risky behavior. I have a solar/battery setup and basically never turn it off unless I am working in or near the fence. We get a lost of pass through predators so I take no chances. If your predators are more territorial once bitten by the fence they often will not go near it again.

I live fairly rural; right up next to the forest and we have black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks and the only time anything has ever gotten any of our animals is when they are outside of the netting. I raised 25 roos last year away from the house in electric netting so poorly erected I could high step over it to get in and never lost a single bird.

Honestly I cannot explain why the bobcats and the mountain lions don't go right over. I assume it is because there is easier prey around. I have seen the bobcat charge the fence trying to spook the girls into jumping over it but he will not go in.

We do build secure coops as extra security in case something ever did happen but I do not like locking them up at night as they get up and forage long before sunrise.

Good Luck,

Jeff
 
Troy Rhodes
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Just my two cents worth.

I personally would feel guilty shooting an animal with the intent to "just" wound it. If I'm going to shoot it, I'm going to do the very best I can to kill it, rapidly and efficiently.


If it's worth shooting, it's worth killing.


troy
 
John Polk
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I personally would feel guilty shooting an animal with the intent to "just" wound it.

That's one reason I like pellet guns. Not enough to do real harm, but sufficient to send a "Not Welcome" message.

Most predators are territorial, so if you do kill one, that just creates a vacuum that will be filled by another.
If you just send the message that 'my coop is off limits', he will learn to avoid it, yet at the same time keep others from moving into his territory.

Pellet guns also work well for people in the suburbs where nosy neighbors are likely to call the sheriff once they hear gunshots.

 
Jerry Ward
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Kevin Sanders wrote:Humans are animals and what do animals do to mark their territory? Next time you need to pee just go outside and do it around the chicken coop, or just pee into a bottle and take it out there and dump it around the coop. We do this often and we have not had any predator issues at all. Every neighbor that we talk to can not keep chickens due to the predators around here, so we really feel like this works. Its just a little unusual


Be careful if you have an electric fence, I'm just saying
 
alex Keenan
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I would get a live trap.
I would start by baiting the area with a few eggs.
Once you get the critter eating eggs you put some eggs in a live trap you have wired opened.
When you know the critter is eating eggs from your live trap you just set it and bait it with eggs.
 
alex Keenan
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Now if you want to get the varmint to go away but you do not want to kill said varmint, look at Xtreme-pro Super Hot Mill Spec Pepper Ball Rounds or one of the other capsaicin paintballs. Depending on the laws in your area you can organize a varmint paintball hunt with a few well placed motion detector lights and a few friends willing to stay up all night.

If you are going to shoot with a round that can injure I am in the camp that you should go for a clean quick kill. Never leave a animal injured, it will suffer and it can create even more problems. Besides a paintball gun can shoot alot of rounds of capsaicin paintballs and you do not have to worry much about what you hit like using real ammo.
 
Benjamin Sizemore
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Kevin Sanders wrote:Humans are animals and what do animals do to mark their territory? Next time you need to pee just go outside and do it around the chicken coop, or just pee into a bottle and take it out there and dump it around the coop. We do this often and we have not had any predator issues at all. Every neighbor that we talk to can not keep chickens due to the predators around here, so we really feel like this works. Its just a little unusual


I had a backyard garden in a subdivision with a serious rabbit infestation. They would nibble everything right down to the nub... lived under the deck and the front porch and all over ever yard in the place. My brother and I eat a lot of meat, so I got the idea to pee around the garden and use jars to collect it for that purpose.

WORKED AWESOME! Never had another nibble and the grass grew super thick around the border, lol.
 
Suzanne Gossett
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We had chickens growing up, and I look forward to starting new flock soon. We had a half St. Bernard half Collie that not only protected us, but every other animal on the place. Coyotes were a huge problem for us. Bear as he was know, protected forty acres, and actually helped raise the chicks from when we first brought them home. In the evenings he would "herd" the chickens into the coop. If one wasn't cooperating he would pick them up by the tail feathers and carry them inside. Believe it or not, it is true. On the really cold nights he slept in the coop with them. They would cuddle up with him. It was always funny to see. He would "herd " the cattle as well...by walking around them until they would each begin to follow him, then he would walk them in a circle and then where they needed to go. Sorry for the long story...but is your dog that friendly with the chickens? To sleep in the coop, if it is big enough? An idea. It seemed Bear was like a mother hen to the chickens I guess because he basically slept with them from day one. And maybe that created a bond similar to putting dogs and cats together. Good luck!
 
Chris French
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Killing the fox is the type of thinking that got us in this mess.

Foxes are an important part of the eco system, and closely related to your dog.

You will probably kill the foxes and complain about mice and rabbits next.



 
Tony Hill
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Chris French wrote:Killing the fox is the type of thinking that got us in this mess.
Foxes are an important part of the eco system, and closely related to your dog.

You will probably kill the foxes and complain about mice and rabbits next.


UPDATE:
The fox attack never repeated. The dog does stays out at night. Problem solved.

But I am NOT into whining as you describe.

If I killed the fox, it would be okay, the same as if a coyote or dog killed one. There are large populations of both in our area.
The mice... our chickens eat them. They absolutely LOVE eating mice. They take out the snakes, too. Not many vermin live very long in our yard.

We have lost one chicken in three years. Not too bad. We have a really good German Shepherd. She herds them and is really protective. But I think putting her in the pen would test her a little too much. She kills animals regularly, and I don't want her getting annoyed at a chicken and discovering how tasty they are. That is hard to reverse once it happens.

-Tony
 
Chris French
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Tony Hill wrote:
Chris French wrote:Killing the fox is the type of thinking that got us in this mess.
Foxes are an important part of the eco system, and closely related to your dog.

You will probably kill the foxes and complain about mice and rabbits next.


UPDATE:
The fox attack never repeated. The dog does stays out at night. Problem solved.

But I am NOT into whining as you describe.

If I killed the fox, it would be okay, the same as if a coyote or dog killed one. There are large populations of both in our area.
The mice... our chickens eat them. They absolutely LOVE eating mice. They take out the snakes, too. Not many vermin live very long in our yard.

We have lost one chicken in three years. Not too bad. We have a really good German Shepherd. She herds them and is really protective. But I think putting her in the pen would test her a little too much. She kills animals regularly, and I don't want her getting annoyed at a chicken and discovering how tasty they are. That is hard to reverse once it happens.

-Tony


I am glad you didn't have a problem with the fox again.

I didn't mean to infer that you are "whining" I was just trying to point out that the "kill it" mentality should be the very last resort, because everything has a place and should be giving that space.

I would much more prefer us to think about out smarting a fox, rather than killing it, because we are supposed to be the "smartest" ones right

I like to see everything i see alive as a biography and not so much as biology, that fox has a place and a life, maybe we do end up killing it, but new thinking should be applied first I feel.

 
Troy Rhodes
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" I was just trying to point out that the "kill it" mentality should be the very last resort, because everything has a place and should be giving that space.

I would much more prefer us to think about out smarting a fox, rather than killing it, because we are supposed to be the "smartest" ones right

I like to see everything i see alive as a biography and not so much as biology, that fox has a place and a life, maybe we do end up killing it, but new thinking should be applied first I feel."



Your point is well taken. And sometimes, killing is what ends up working.

eg: I live on the edge of a small town (330). Most folks own guns and use them responsibly around here, me included. But people are reticent about using them in town. One of the consequences is that we are overrun with raccoons. I tried non-lethal methods first, in an attempt to get a ripened peach crop, and sweet corn.

A fence didn't do it.

A bigger fence didn't do it.

An electric fence didn't do it.

An electric fence with chicken wire buried in the ground didn't do it.

Repellents didn't do it, blood meal, urine, predator urine, shiny noisy things, etc.


So, after two years of ineffective measures, we finally started catching them and euthanizing them. Literally dozens of them. That finally worked.


We were overrun with a crazy amount of raccoons.

We don't have chickens, but the neighbors had a terrible time until they put the chickens in a prison.



troy
 
rosemary schmidt
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one day last year I walked out to the coop to let the chickens out to range and saw out of the corner of my eye one of my hens in the nester. I walked up and reached in to pet her but holy moley did I ever recoil and hi tail it out of there! It was a huge gigantic black snake! About 5 feet long or more and three inches in diameter. I screamed so loud that my neighbor came out of his house looking for the girl who was screaming! That was half a block away and behind closed doors so you can imagine! He came with his shot gun once he figured out who it was and by then Id realized it was a blacksnake and friend to farmers. Well with the exception of eggs or chicks that might get eaten. I guess I scared him more than he scared me because I never saw him or sign of him again. No eggs nor chicks mysteriously missing. So maybe screaming like a girl will help
 
Dina Kruger
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The first thing to attack my chickens were raccoon. They came in at night and caught two of my chickens. I woke up hearing their cries but by then the raccoons had taken them. The next attack cam a week later but this time we were prepared, the lights and shouts drew them away. I then called in a raccoon removal service ( www.removethewild.com )to take them away. After that there were no more raccoon attack. Foxes did try to sneak then, but by then we had build higher fences and had guards so they couldn't do any harm.
I would never support killing, even the raccoon removal service I hired were known for their humane animal removal methods.
 
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