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Thinking hard about chickens .... and foxes!

(21 Posts)
Millie1 Wed 10-Feb-10 13:52:20

We're thinking about getting some hens (3) ... live in the country and am considering an Eglu for orchard area at bottom of garden. Would want to let them out during the day but would fence an area off which I could move around to try to save the grass underfoot hmm. So far, so good ... yes? Do not want to create a permanent fenced enclosure as we have just spent £££ on garden and it would wreck the look of the whole area grin ... not to mention the fact that DH would kill me for even thinking of it wink.

Okay ... foxes. We live in the country ... foxes live in the country. I saw a few last year but none for a few months - until yesterday when I met a sly-looking old boy on the road justing leaving the local chicken farm (empty mouthed!) - as the crow flies, we're talking about 6 fields away.

Now I'm having the obvious nightmares. Aside from very high fencing around and over a dedicated chicken run, what can we do. I'd love to hear how everyone else deals with foxes - cos I don't want to get chickens only to loose them to a fox.

Thanks!

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 14:00:02

Always shut them in at night if in a foxy area. High fence/electric fence round the garden perimeter? And by high I mean high, I've seen a fox clear a 6ft fence coming out of a chicken enclosure with one in its mouth.

We have foxes round us, I've seen one in the front garden. But back garden has an 8ft wall round it on one side and a thick conifer hedge on the other which has been dog/fox/rabbit/chicken proofed all along the bottom.

I have never shut our chickens in at night and touch wood have never had a problem, I don't think a fox could get in unless they spent a long time digging to get under the hedge.

Millie1 Wed 10-Feb-10 16:21:11

Thanks for reply Goth ... yes, would plan to close them in at night and really only let them out during the day when I'm home (which is pretty much all day). We're not as lucky as you with garden perimeters though! Ours are what one would term agricultural ... hawthorn hedge with lots of gaps although well fenced with sheep wire on our side and the other side of the garden is a fence, again sheep wire into adjoining field - standard height fence and easily cleared by greedy foxes. We are (or will soon be) completely dog proof which might help a little. Haven't ever seen a fox on our land - touch wood! Hopefully it'll be okay!

Hi Millie

We live in the middle of a field and it's not practical for us to fence off our garden to prevent foxes getting in - I have about 50 silkies. I shut mine in at night and so far have had no casualties (touch wood). I also have an electric fence which is easily moved (and green so it doesn't look conspicuous). The fence goes on mainly during the winter when foxes are likely to be more hungry. Our nearest fox is 3 fields away. Fortunately there's plenty of other easy prey around here - pheasants mainly so they seem to leave mine and my nearest neighbours chickens alone.

ChickensLoveMarmite Wed 10-Feb-10 19:15:39

There is something called a foxwatch which is supposed to be quite effective. Don't suppose you have a dog, do you? Also, agree about the electric fence. I know you said you don't want a permanent run, but if you've just had your garden done it might be the best bet. Even three hens could destroy a lawn in a very short space of time (I have friends who collected three hybrids in November. They will be returfing their lawn in the spring shock). If you went for the eglu, it would be possible to site it on slabs and just let the hens out when you would be about to supervise. You can make a chicken enclosure quite attractive, with a bit of imagination Perhaps have a look on the Omlet site for ideas.

Millie1 Wed 10-Feb-10 22:00:49

Thanks for the replies ladies. Porridge - you're like us ... our house is also planted in the middle of a field which is slowly turning into a garden although to me it will always be 'the field' grin.

I've looked at the fencing on the Omlett website - both the chicken wire with the poles and also the electric gadget to hook it up - is that the sort of thing you mean?

Chickens ... yikes! I figured that temporarily fenced areas in orchard would be liveable with. That's scarey!! If the Eglu was on slabs, would it not be uncomfortable for the chicks if, say, we were away for a day and they were left in with nothing to peck at? Shall spend some more time browsing the Omlet site for ideas!

Thanks both of you.

Oh one more question ... are they okay with fallen fruit from trees? Tummy ache or no problems?!

paisleyleaf Wed 10-Feb-10 22:07:17

You could put straw/hay down on the slabs for them to scratch at to peck for bugs.

ChickensLoveMarmite Thu 11-Feb-10 09:29:02

I put horse bedding in my slabbed run for them to scratch about in Mine adore fruit, and have never had any bad side effects.

Pancakeflipper Thu 11-Feb-10 09:42:28

Our neighbours have hens with the Eglu set-up. A fox came to get their hens in the day. Just tore the heads off - didn't actually take any to eat. It was horrible dven though I have grown up next to farms and know nature aint all buttercups and gamboling lambs. Then returned to get the others. He'd dug under their fence. So they now have some fence that goes deeper and the bit underground is at an angle to prevent it happening again.

Sadly it means they get no freedom to roam now even in the day cos' the fox is brave enough to come then only when the neighbours have a day in their field.

paisleyleaf Thu 11-Feb-10 11:11:49

You're right about nature being pretty ugly.
We gave up having chickens and ducks where we are a few years ago because of mink. We were well fox proofed, but the mink are more slippery to keep away.
Maybe we'll get some again. I feel a bit bad that DD missed out on the fowl. But we'd need to invest in a much better run.

LilyBolero Thu 11-Feb-10 11:17:50

We have loads of foxes in the city! And they are more brazen than country foxes.

Our hens are in a wooden coop/run, which is in total 12'x3' (we have 2 runs, each with 3 hens in). They are permanently sited on slabs, with equine bedding to scratch in. They seem really happy and the slabs have the advantage that they keep their nails short, and are very very easy to clean - no smell, and no problem with parasitical infection of the land.

LilyBolero Thu 11-Feb-10 11:18:36

incidentally, our coops are homemade, and have never had any problems with foxes getting in.

Millie

I got my fences from here and agree with Marmite about the scratching and fruit.

Millie1 Thu 11-Feb-10 22:26:28

Thanks for all the posts and information everyone. A bit alarming that a fox got in under an Eglu - I thought the whole point is that they're supposed to be fox proof? I've book-marked that link Porridge - thanks!

MollieO Fri 12-Feb-10 23:16:41

Pancakeflipper did the fox get the chickens whilst they were in the Eglu run or were they out of the run at the time? We are contemplating getting a Cube and I'm pretty perturbed at the thought that the fox proof fencing isn't actually fox proof shock.

Feelingforty Fri 12-Feb-10 23:17:40

I have 3 hens & an eglu. After the first couple of weeks I had a very determind fox dig around the base of the eglu. Foxy didn't make it in though, thank goodness. It shook me up though & now the hens have 2 x foxwatches 'guarding' them. They also have a 12x 9 ft run. They completely wrecked it & the roof constantly leaks, so now I let them freerange round the the garden all day. Our garden is massive so can take it. They are happy & so I am happy. IMO the egul run isn't enough space...ok with 1 or 2 extensions, but I found it hard work to move around the garden.

MollieO Fri 12-Feb-10 23:36:35

Feelingforty do you have the standard eglu or the cube? I'm thinking of getting the cube and 4 chickens which will free range at the weekends when we are around but be in the run during the week.

Cranreuch Fri 12-Feb-10 23:52:49

Have you seen the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall approach to hens and keeping them safe from foxes? It seems quite labour intensive in some ways, but also very fox proof.

I live in the middle of fields, but we don't have foxes, so our hens are free to get up/go to bed when they want to. We have just under half an acre and the 3 chooks have a third or more of the garden to roam around, under some plum/apple trees.

The people who lived here before us had a hen that lived in a plum tree.

Feelingforty Sat 13-Feb-10 12:06:38

MollieO we have the eglu. I had this hens in there, but it was too cramped. I think the cube (which is more expensive) + a run extension is probably ok. I also think it would work quite well if you can move it round the garden every few days...my girls devoured most of their patch within a week.
If I had the money, I would have gone down this route.

MollieO Sat 13-Feb-10 12:14:34

Feelingforty I think that is what we will do. Have told ds that it will be his birthday and Christmas present from mummy and grandma. He had the choice of a Wii or chickens. I reckon getting a Wii would be less work!!

I like the fact that the Cube has wheels so should be easier to move.

Debs41 Mon 25-Jul-11 11:28:14

We live in the country and we put electric poultry netting round our chicken enclosure. The one we use is mains charged but you can easily connect it to a car battery. We havent had a fox problem in the 3 years we got it. We also have some geese and they are good alarms when foxes are about!

There is a website www.arkbirdsandbeeskent.co.uk that has loads of info about fox control on it

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