The story of the wily old fox and his love for the chicken coop is a tale as old as time. Foxes love chickens, but the feeling is not mutual. To protect your feathery friends from disappearing, you must be proactive in your efforts to secure their coop. Here’s how to fox-proof a chicken coop.
When fox-proofing a chicken coop, you must ensure that the coop is built from tough materials such as thick, durable wood, metal, and hardwire cloth fitted with a sturdy roof and secure locking mechanisms. Adding electric chicken fencing, alarm systems, and guard animals are effective extras.
Foxes are territorial animals. If you spot them in your area, know that your chicken coop may soon be attacked. The best thing to do is to be proactive in your approach when fox-proofing the coop. Regular inspections and repair maintenance of the fencing and coop is one of the best ways to keep up with potential future fox attacks.
How To Fox Proof A Chicken Coop
Most states in North America are home to cunning and intelligent foxes. These predators are extremely determined when they become aware of tasty chickens strutting their stuff in a coop.
Foxes will dig underneath or jump fences, finding any way to access the coop and their favorite meal.
Foxes will stalk the perimeter, watching your chickens from afar, striking whenever they see the chicken guard being lowered. The guard is you, leaving your chickens alone to fend for themselves or housing them in an easy-to-breach chicken coop.
Not one chicken owner spends the whole day watching and protecting their chickens, so it’s imperative to fox-proof your chicken coop. Here is how you fox-proof a chicken coop Alcatraz-style.
Ensure Your Chicken Coop Is Built Tough
Not all chicken coops are built the same regarding using the sturdiest materials available. If you’re building a coop, use the most durable material; the hardest wood, strong metals, and hardware cloth or welded wire mesh should be on your hardware shopping list.
If you have already bought a coop, and it’s not as tough as you would like, add some reinforcements to the overall build. Check for any weak spots, such as cracks, holes, and gaps, and repair them immediately.
Reinforce any access points, such as doors, with strong locks and latches, making your coop as impenetrable as a high-security prison. A sturdy fence around the perimeter is non-negotiable when fighting off hungry predators.
Make Sure Your Chicken Coop Has a Roof
You do get chicken owners who leave the coop roofless, constantly scratching their heads about why their chicken population is constantly decreasing. A fox will do anything to get into a chicken coop, and every owner must ensure that the fox doesn’t find it easygoing.
A chicken coop without a roof makes your chickens “sitting ducks.” Put a roof on the coop and keep the athletic fox out of the box. Use durable wood that can’t be gnawed through or wire hardware cloth covering the roof without leaving any gaps or loose ends.
Use Wire Hardware Cloth When Predator Proofing the Coop
Do you know why they don’t call chicken wire predator-proof wire? Because it’s not predator-proof. Fencing is the best way to protect your chickens from the cunning fox, so ensure you don’t use chicken wire when constructing or reinforcing the coop.
Chicken wire is really good for one thing only, keeping chickens in, not the predators out!
Use wire hardware cloth or welded wire mesh with small openings (1 inch in diameter) in all areas of the coop, including the chicken run, windows, vents, and any weak areas, so that you can be sure that foxes and their predator friends, don’t stand a chance in getting to your beloved chickens.
Ensure that you plant the wire hardware cloth as deep as you can into the ground a foot or more is best practice so that the burrowers hit a dead-end when trying to dig a hole underneath.
Electrify The Chicken Fence
In areas where predators are rampant, it’s important to show them who the boss is. Adding electricity to your chicken fencing surrounding the coop protects your birds from foxes, wolves, raccoons, skunks, and always-hungry bears.
Install an electric chicken net fence around the chicken run area. Any predator trying to cross, pass beneath, or chew through the electric poultry netting will receive a shock to the system and a reminder that you love your chickens very much.
Keep Your Yard Tidy
Maintaining a clutter-free and clean yard is vital in keeping critters at bay. The less hiding space your landscaping layout provides predators, the better you can sleep at night.
Plantation next to the coop, or a simple pile of wood, all provide predators with a convenient hiding place to plan their next move from under cover of darkness. Less clutter means less hiding space and a clean yard will lessen the draw of potential predators.
Keep the lawn next to the coop mowed down to a length that doesn’t provide the wily fox an inch of cover. Elevate the hen house and ensure that the den is as far from the entrance of the coop as possible.
Clean the coop periodically, as chicken waste, food scraps, and spilled feed can attract predators from far away. Remember, most predators have a strong sense of smell.
Ensuring that you place the chicken feed in secure rodent-proof containers will minimize attracting smaller rodents, which, in turn, attract larger predators.
Install Solar LED Predator Repellent Lights
Predators are prey, too, and get scared or spooked as any prey does in certain circumstances. Many chicken owners will recommend that to keep foxes out of the coop. You must install some predator-repellent lights. The more maintenance-free option is choosing a solar-powered unit that recharges itself during the daytime.
Deterrent lights that mimic two red eyes work the best, especially when presented as two red strobes turned on all night. Make sure to place the repellent lights to face the area a fox would normally approach from at the height of the predator’s eye level.
Install Motion Activated Alarms and Lights
When confronted by a loud alarm sound and illuminating light source, animals get easily spooked. A motion sensor alarm that produces a strong strobe light and loud sound alarm when detecting motion works best and will scare off predators and burglars alike.
Many chicken owners use motion-activated sprinkler systems to repel predators from their chicken coops. When placing the sprinkler systems close to the coop, you must ensure that the coop is water-proof.
Get A Guard Animal to Protect Your Chickens
A watchdog that patrols the yard night and day is priceless regarding chicken protection. Not only will they sound the alarm when the chicken coop is under attack, but they will also defend the property by fighting the intruder, clearly showing that the chicken coop is off-limits.
Not all big dog breeds do well as guard dogs, and some breeds will see your chickens as a food source themselves; what you want is a dog breed that has a proven track record of protecting other farm animals:
The following dog breeds make excellent guard dogs:
- Pyrenean Mastiff
- Old English Sheepdog
- Anatolian Shepherd
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Maremma Sheepdog
- Great Pyrenees
Certain breeds listed above already have natural traits in being around and protecting chickens but will still require training on how you want them to behave around the chicken flock.
Most dog breeds can be trained to do a specific job as most are loyal, trainable, and protective of their masters. The mere sight of a big dog can intimidate a predator without a fight.
Adding geese to your poultry flock can also do wonders regarding the protection of the chickens. Geese are vigilant and can sound the alarm when spotting intruders; they are known to put up a vigorous fight and know how to protect themselves against bigger predators.
Keep Chickens Locked Up Inside at Night
You must lock up your chickens at night. The one night that you fail to do so is the night you lose a lot of your flock. Chickens should not free range or hang outside the coop at night, as foxes will devour them quickly when not protected by a Fort Knox-like coop.
When you fox-proof your chicken coop, you always start with the coop itself. Look for any signs of weakness in the design and reinforce those areas with strong materials such as durable wood, metal, and wire hardware cloth or welded wire mesh.
The coop must represent a maximum prison when locked up for the night, no bird gets out or fox gets in. Adding alarm systems, guarding animals, and keeping the coop clean of any food attractants will only play its part in the security of the chicken coop if the coop is built tough.