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No foxes - am I being naive?

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We have had our chickens for a couple of weeks now. I previously kept hens - but in France, where there were no foxes and my chickens ranged free all day. We are now in a semi rural location in U.K., on the edges of a town with fields and train line beside our home. Our garden has 8ft fences down two sides and 6ft on the other, the fourth side is our house. 

My hens are in a coop with a small run, they are ex battery hens so we were advised to keep the run small initially. I’ve just started letting them out for supervised free ranging and they are really enjoying their new life. 

We have motion activated cameras and lights in our garden and in the last two weeks there hasn’t been any attempts by a fox to even enter the garden, so I’ve gotten a bit braver about popping back into the house for a few mins here and there and leaving my girls unsupervised. Is this naive? We have a dog, 2 cats, all of whom are outside all day but in at night. But even at night there have been no foxes prowling around our garden (the cameras would have picked them up). 

I’ve noticed our local chicken farm has their chickens free ranging, they’re often up and down local lanes. So I’m wondering if there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to foxes, are they worse in some areas more than others? 

We are going to build a bigger fox proof run anyway, but I would love for my girls to be able to free range more frequently, I don’t have a lot of time to supervise them and mainly only let them out during my tea and lunch breaks when I can be outside observing them. 

I’ve bought a radio that can stay outside to create a sound deterrent, my kids are eagerly preparing a scarecrow. How vigilant should we be? Are foxes more active at certain times of year? When I Google, every article is adamant that no risks should be taken, but our local farmer clearly didn’t get that memo - like I said, his chickens free range outside of his property even. Is it possible that in some areas there are other food sources that mean foxes are less inclined to risk entering private gardens where humans are active? 

How many of you free range chickens without issues? If any? 

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We have just one free ranging. She's nearly 10 now, the last of a flock of six. We accept the risk of a fox strike, even though we have a terrier outside with her. I've seen foxes nearby. At our last place (rental) we didn't see any foxes, but our neighbour lost his entire flock twice (cock and 6 hens), once during the day and once at night because they wouldn't go into the coop because of red mite. Our chickens were in a reasonably secure enclosure and were all securely locked up at night, so no problems for us in the 4 years we were there. Here the enclosures are electrified.

It could be that the ready meal of the local chicken farm means foxes don't need to visit you. Problem would be if the farm stopped letting the chickens out during an avian flu outbreak. Rest assured there are foxes around you; they just haven't been near you yet. Remain vigilant and hope for the best. Until you have a secure enclosure they will always be at risk

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I free ranged for 4-5 years with no problems, living in a semi rural place, backing onto open fields and with only stock fencing and hedging around the garden.  I knew there had to be foxes about, but we rarely/never saw them.  The routine was get the birds up, allow into a large electric fencing pen to have 'breakfast', out all day, back at dusk into pen and bed.  One day a neighbour's husband forgot to lock up and they lost their hens.  I didn't know this, and shortly afterwards we lost a breeding pen of hens, the cockeral escaped.  After that I kept the various pens of birds in their electric netting pens, and only allowed them to FR if I was in the (large) garden.  A year or so later I was in the garden with the birds and chased off a young cub.  Another year passed and I watched a young fox rush into a pen, through electric netting, luckily with no ill effects as I chased it off - that shows that electric netting needs to be checked regularly for breaks and a full charge.  Anyway, shortly after that I got rid of my stock (for different reasons) and from time to time I could see a rural fox, lounging about out in the long grass of the open countryside (all meals having been removed) showing no interest in the gardens.  The moral of this story is that there is no such thing as a truly safe space.  My hunch is that you are safer in a rural environment as urban foxes are a lot wilier, hungrier and braver.  You can take the risk of protecting birds in an electric netting pen, but now I would only do this if I was out with them.  If I ever go back to keeping birds in the UK I will have a different set up, with a large WIR/aviary for day to day exercise, plus electric netting pens for when I was present, and FR on special occasions only.  I very strongly believe in the benefits of FR, but it is always a major risk, and once you have experienced a fox attack, then I can guarantee you will feel guilt because you failed to protect your birds.  Foxes are about nearly as much in the daytime as at night.

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