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Fox attack

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I am devastated, two of my small flock of pekin bantams were killed yesterday by a fox.  It happened in the early evening well before dusk  One has disappeared with a pile of feathers left behind, the body of the second was laying close by.  I think the fox would have killed the rest had my dog not charged into the garden when they started shrieking.  Not sure why I'm posting really; people who aren't chicken keepers just don't seem to realise how upsetting it is.  They were not even a year old.  I am so angry with myself for letting them free range in the garden.  I have a secure Omlet WIR but have recently started to let them explore the garden.  This made them so happy....but I now bitterly regret that decision.  My remaining 4 hens are very quiet and subdued.  

I don't know what to do now.  The fox will return so I feel I have no option but to keep them in the WIR unless I can directly supervise.  I suppose I'm asking how many of you allow your hens to free range during the day?  If you let them free range unsupervised do you just accept there will be losses?

Thank you.

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No right or wrong answers here, I'm afraid. You're right, of course, that one only really starts to understand after first-hand involvement. I wouldn't beat yourself up, though; you said yourself that free ranging made for happy girls, and that's worth a lot.

If the fox has come once it'll come again. At this time of year, there are a lot of young mouths to feed so the pressure is at its greatest for the adults to find food wherever they can. In fact, the brazenness of the foxes where we live now is one of the reasons it took us as long as it did after moving house to get some more chickens. The result for us is that we took our time building an electrified Fort Knox of a WIR and only let the girls out into the confines of some pegged out electrifiable poultry fencing clipped to the WIR. For us it's a good compromise because the girls can have free run of whichever part of the garden we think can survive it, but the foxes are deterred by the risk of shock.

All that said, we don't leave the girls unsupervised as such. When they're out of the WIR, it's only whilst we're in the garden or in a room looking onto it. If we need to go out or move out of sight for any significant time, we shut the girls back up.

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Everyone here will completely understand how heartbreaking it is to lose any if your girls especially to a fox or other predator.

As the major has said and you know the fox will definitely be back so you will have to keep the girls shut in unless you’re right with them.

Mine are shut in a WIR when there’s no one home but have half the garden when we are home - it is fairly well fenced but a determined fox could still get in. If an attack happened quickly we’d be unlikely to get there in time to stop it (I lost one to a dog attack last year). However, we’ve lived here 6 years and haven’t seen a fox since the first year so I guess have got quite complacent.

I feel my girls are safe but I know I could be wrong. 

If I was in your position I’d definitely keep them in unless I was right there with them.

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And if you do let them back in the garden, I highly recommend direct supervision - they love helping you weed! I left mine out and then went in the house for 10-15 minutes, just enough time for a feral cat to nab a 2-month old pullet. I've lost youngsters to hawks as well before, so it's not just foxes - lots of things enjoy a chicken dinner. They never seem to take the excess cockerels either, always the little girls. Grrrr

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So sorry to hear this.  I let my girls free range as much as possible, but only if I’m around.  We have foxes here, my neighbour feeds them and I worry about them a lot.  But they love being ‘outside’! 

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