Keeping chickens safe from foxes

Foxes can be a problem for many chicken keepers. While only those of us in rural settings have to deal with things like bears or bobcats trying to eat our chickens, foxes are getting closer and closer to the suburbs! Because fox moms have several babies each year, a single fox sighting can mean there are 6 or more in the area! A fox will take a chicken every day given the 1 fox can wipe out a flock of hens pretty quickly.

Of course with all predators it's easiest to prevent them from getting their first meal, than it is to stop them once they get a taste for chicken. 

Directions to protect chickens from a fox

A fox will not leave much evidence when she takes a chicken. You may see a few feathers but usually the hen will just be gone. This may lead some to think the hen is off brooding somewhere or has just wandered off. Any time a chicken is missing like this though, there's a good chance it was a fox. Most other predators leaves a mess behind, the fox just grabs and runs off to her den to share with her family. 

Predator proofing your coop and run is important, and since foxes are known to jump high and dig well, we need to focus mostly on the run.

A sturdy run and coop with a solid floor is the best place to start. If you don't have a run on your chicken coop, you might want to build one. Foxes hunt by staying right outside the open areas and watching for the moment they can run in, grab a chicken and get out. Our biggest fox problems have been when the chickens were free ranging.

Supervised free range time definitely helps, though some foxes will still manage to make their move if you are far enough across the yard! When you realize that you have a fox problem, it's safest to end free range time until the problem has been sorted out. 

How to protect your chickens from foxes

Foxes are nocturnal and tend to hunt from dusk till dawn. They're not as comfortable hunting in broad daylight, so these are the safest hours to free range your chickens. Wait till it's fully light to let them and out put them in each night a full hour before the sun sets. 

If you stick to a routine, the chickens will get used to it and start coming in earlier for you. If not, a handful of treats tossed into the coop can lure them back. 

If you have an automatic chicken coop door you'll want it to wait until at least an hour after sunrise to open. You'll have to change the timing a few times a year as dawn changes, but it's worth the hassle to keep your chickens safe. If you can't set the timer (mine works by sunlight) then position your solar panel away from the sun so it doesn't get first light. 

Automatic coop doors are perfect for closing the chickens in when you won't be home at the right time. 

Predator proofing the coop

Latching the door. Luckily foxes cannot open closed doors so a sturdy closed door that has some kind of latch mechanism will keep them out. Raccoons can open latches and even locks, so be glad we're not dealing with them. As long as your door won't pop open with pressure, or pull open with a'll keep foxes out!

Make sure there are no holes or loose boards that a fox can pull away and get into the coop. I do a seasonal check of the coop but I'll do another check any time I see a predator in my yard or close by in the woods. 

Clean up brush and debris around the hen house so the fox does not have anything to hide behind. Unused cages, bins or brooder tubs and lawn or farm equipment should be moved away and grass kept low. 

Foxes can both climb and jump quite high. They can jump about 3 feet high, and climb 6 feet! If your chicken coop has an open topped run you'll want to add a roof. I prefer a solid roof, but welded wire fencing fastened to the top will work too. If you want to keep a fox out, it needs to be strong enough so that if a fox jumps onto the roof it will hold his weight so he doesn't drop into the run. 

This is the roof we decided on for both our coop runs. It's patio roof material, we wanted the corrugated metal to go with our old timey Wild West look to the coop. We got it at Lowes and it just screws in place to the run. 

Metal covered run on chicken coop.

When enclosing a run on the chicken coop you will want to use welded wire with the small squares instead of chicken wire. Chicken wire is for keeping chickens in. Welded wire is much stronger and is for keeping predators out. Plus, chicken wire is going to rust to pieces in about 6 years. 

Ask me how I know that *sigh* You can actually see it in the bottom edge of that image above. 

Foxes can dig quite well. The burrow or dig to make their dens, so their pretty much pros at it! This is a big problem if your coop has a dirt floor. Many chicken keepers bury an apron of welded wire around the perimeter of their coop and run. Bury it a few inches down, and have it extend about a foot out from the bottom boards on the run.

It does work, though I tend to rely on a guard dog instead. 

Guard animals can keep foxes at bay 

If foxes are a big problem for you and you decide on a dog choose a breed that's larger than a fox! If you do have a small breed dog, do not let it out unsupervised during the dusk to dawn hours. It can be helpful to walk the dog around the coop to do it's business. 

A fox can smell the urine of another meat eater or predator animal and tis may be enough to deter it from hanging around your chicken coop or yard.

I do find that smaller breed dogs are still helpful against predators like foxes, opossums and raccoons but only because they see and hear things I don't, so they can alert me to what's going on. A small dog making noise may send a predator scurrying away, but I would hate for it to be small enough that the predator decides on a change of menu. Hawks especially will take small dogs, just fyi. 

I also raise guinea fowl for help with predators. A flock of guinea fowl will alert (aka freak out!) over an animal that doesn't belong in your area. Foxes yes, but also squirrels, cats, dogs, raccoons and their personal nemesis: snakes. Of course all of those can still be predators, so it's not a bad thing that these things upset the guineas enough to make the alert call. Yes, even squirrels will hunt chicks and take eggs!

I've heard donkeys are great for this reason too, but I haven't tried that approach myself!

Before you go to a ton of trouble, make sure it is a fox you're dealing with. Raccoons, coyotes and even stray dogs or cats may be causing your predator problem. A trail cam can help you catch the action when you're not out there watching. Like this guy visiting behind the chicken coop at 6am!

Trail cam picture of fox behind the chicken coop

Trapping nuisance foxes

Foxes are notoriously difficult to trap. Many of the large feed store chains sell the large safe traps for this purpose. I personally haven't had luck with them, but I know people that have. 

Relocation: I am not a huge fan of relocation. I believe that when you relocate a predator, you simply give someone else your problem. It would really upset me if someone decided that my road was a good release area and since I live near the woods, it very well could happen.

Personal thoughts aside, I need to mention that relocation is not always a legal option. If you choose to catch and release you could be subjected to fines or other penalties based on your local ordinances. Check your local laws before releasing an animal somewhere else. What you choose to do with a predator is a personal decision but I would hate for someone to be fined or worse for protecting their flock.

We had a professional fox trapper set up on our property one year but he had no luck. This may be an option for you though.

If you're intending to dispatch a fox yourself be forewarned that fox hunting is regulated. You should call your local fish and game commission (or similar agency) for advice and regulations.  

Now that your coop is predator proof, don't forget to give it a quick inspection every so often to make sure nothing has broken or come loose. Predators are opportunistic and will strike when you least expect it, so keep an eye out for any potential problems. 

Having problems with other predators around your coop? Click here for my previous posts on chicken predators!


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  1. I'm needing help from the raccoons killing my hens every night. I've trapped two coons and numerous opossums. I've buried my wire and have 6 feet of welded wire topped by 4 feet of chicken wire. I'm installing a trailcam next week to try and see where the coons are coming in. Cutting down the trees are out of the question as there would be no shade in the heat of the day for the girls. (It topped 105 yesterday, can you imagine how the hens would suffer in that kind of heat & sun?) Back to the coon problems. I've read the articles on raccoons and predators. Can you help me? Becca from Kansas

    1. What is your ventilation at roof level like? I had a raccoon once that climbed straight up the outside of the coop and was getting in through the roof ventilation holes. We rolled up some welded wire and filled the holes with that and he couldn't get in. Use a staple gun to affix it and try to staple it on the outside of the coop since it's harder to push in that way.

      Also, at ground level they can squeeze in through a hole less than 2" high! I had one get in under the run door last year and if I didn't catch him in a trap I wouldn't have believed it! So check for gaps and fill them even if they appear too small. Hope that helps!