Posts Tagged ‘run’

The two certainties of chicken-keeping – Death and foxes.

Fox with a gun

Damn my clumsy paws

There has been some soul searching after we lost all three chickens to a fox. I don’t in anyway blame the family who were looking after them, as I clearly didn’t fully explain the ramifications of not putting them in before dark, and I sympathise with how terrible they feel and the efforts they made to find the chickens. However initially, I did feel that this wouldn’t have happened if we were at home. Once a fox had been able to get to the chickens he was bound to come back, and he was able to get to the chickens in the first place because they weren’t locked up before dark.

However, if I’m honest, there have been times we have been late putting them in at night and we have been lucky. It is also naïve to think that foxes only attack during the evening. Given that the other two chickens were killed in broad daylight.  The farmer who supplies us our chickens wasn’t at all surprised that the fox attacked them during the day. He clearly thought we were thickies for thinking otherwise.

Anyway, what has worked for the past year will not work anymore. Lala and Cassie are in the uncomfortable position of having a fox know where they are and we will have to be more careful if we are going to keep them safe.

They have a large run and coop, so they should be happy kept in there when we are not around. Our other chickens had free range of the whole ‘farm’ area, but this will not be the case for the newbies. From now on chickens will be in the run unless we are around. Although this is no hardship now, I’ll be extending the run over the weekend to give them more space while in captivity.

I’m aware that foxes are wily and cunning. I’ve read my Roald Dahl and I’ll be disappointed in any fox who doesn’t mock up a scale model of the garden including all defenses before he attacks. I know they can bite through wire, chew through wood and dig like crazy… erm, foxes, but I refuse to become paranoid.

I will do my best for the chickens, without surrendering and unreasonable amount of time/money to the project. Lala and Cassie aren’t on their own, but they remain, just chickens, and let’s not get weird about this.

I feel this is an apt time to put in a quick note about my feelings towards foxes. They haven’t changed. I knew foxes were rather nasty creatures before this and I still know it now. I have always been opposed to fox hunting, not because I think foxes are cuddly, beautiful creatures who need protecting, they’re not. They are, in many cases ruthless pests who need culling, but I don’t think the way to do it is to invite your friends round, get dressed up, get on horses and watch your dogs tear them apart. To me it’s about the motive and turning killing into a game is a bit too cruel and ruthless for me to be comfortable. I don’t like killing for fun it in humans any more than in foxes. Let’s be clear about this, foxes absolutely do kill for fun. They did not eat my chickens, they ripped their heads off and left their bodies and they sought them out to do this. They killed them because they can. I don’t approve of this sort of behaviour in anyone in a red coat, be it fox or posh bloke.

Although Foxes are the usual enemy, our farmer told my husband that the worst poultry massacre he’d ever seen was in a coop where a badger had got in. From a barn of 100 hens, only half a dozen were still alive the next morning. Many killed, but many more dying of fear and shock. Chickens do that, never throw a chicken  a suprise party, they are massive drama queens who will keel over and die when faced with a bit of a shock just one of the reasons my birds will never be allowed to see the state of my knickers drawer.