Foxes are the traditional enemies of chickens and they’re the bane of chicken keepers everywhere. They’re wily, cunning adversaries, and they’re adept at breaking into even the most secure chicken coops and making off with your beloved birds by day or by night.
However, there are several things you can do to minimize the risk of this happening to your flock – and to teach you how, in this post, we discuss how to keep foxes away from chickens.
How to Keep Foxes Away from Chickens with Deterrents
When it comes to keeping foxes away from your chickens, you have several lines of defense.
The last of these is ensuring you have a solid fox-proof coop that hungry predators won’t be able to break into, but before they even try to get to your precious birds, there are things you can do to put them off even trying. Here are some of the most effective.
1. Scent deterrent
A scent deterrent works by making the fox believe that another animal is already in the area – in which case, they will avoid your yard and your chickens because they don’t want a potentially dangerous confrontation.
Scent deterrents are relatively inexpensive and work well. The only downside is that you will need to reapply them quite often since they don’t last for a long time.
2. Sound deterrent
A sound deterrent is another effective way to dissuade foxes from attacking your chickens. They work by releasing an ultrasonic sound that’s too high-pitched for us to hear, but to foxes, the noise is extremely uncomfortable.
These deterrents usually run on battery power and are triggered by motion – so when the fox approaches your coop, the device sounds, driving the fox away without disturbing you or your neighbors.
The only downside with this kind of device is that you’ll need to remember to check the batteries from time to time – otherwise, if the batteries are dead when a fox decides to make an attempt on your hens, the deterrent will be useless.
3. Light deterrent
A similar concept to the sound deterrent is a light deterrent, a motion-activated deterrent that illuminates bright lights when an intruder is detected.
Another advantage of this kind of device is that it also acts as a deterrent to burglars.
The kind of light deterrent that flashes is even more effective as it can startle a fox and send it running for cover – but it might not go down so well with your neighbors, so it’s best not to install this kind of device in urban or suburban settings.
4. Sprinkler deterrent
Another option is to set up a sprinkler deterrent, a motion-activated device that will soak an inquisitive fox with a jet of water. The only problem with this is that more bold and audacious foxes might not be deterred by this for long.
Keeping a dog outside to guard your chickens is an age-old solution. You just need to make sure the dog is a large enough breed to scare a fox – and that the dog won’t be likely to grab a chicken meal itself!
Keeping foxes off your property
As well as setting up various fox deterrents, you can also take steps to make your property less inviting for foxes. Here are some suggestions.
1. Fence spikes
Foxes are surprisingly good climbers and will think nothing of scaling a six-foot fence, so to stop them, you can place fence spikes on the top.
Plastic fence spikes are the most humane option. They won’t harm a fox that tries to climb over but they will make one think twice before attempting it.
2. Store trash securely
If you leave trash out in the open or in a trash can that doesn’t close securely, it’s like leaving an open invitation out for foxes and all manner of other pests like raccoons.
Instead, make sure trash is put away securely in a fox-proof container that won’t attract foxes.
This way, they won’t be drawn to your yard to investigate the trash smell and find the chickens there at the same time.
3. Remove hiding places
If you have a problem with a fox, it could even be that one has taken up residence somewhere on your property and is just hiding out somewhere nearby during the day.
To prevent this from happening, you should block up all holes and gaps under your house, beneath sheds and anywhere else a fox might like to hide.
Fox-proofing your coop and run
Keeping foxes away from your coop is the first step in protecting your chickens, but determined foxes will inevitably break through your defenses at some point, which is why you need to make sure your coop is solid and secure too. Here are some things you can do.
1. Secure wire
Foxes can easily bite through regular chicken wire, so to keep a determined fox out, you’ll need something stronger.
You can pick up a mesh for your coop and run that’s much stronger than chicken wire but that will still be relatively inexpensive.
2. Overhanging top
If your coop has an open top, you should make sure the outer fence is at least six feet high and that it has an overhanging top that sticks out at an angle of about 45°.
This will mean that even if a fox tries to climb up the fence, it still won’t be able to make it over the top and into the coop and run.
As well as thinking about foxes climbing over a fence, you also need to worry about them burrowing under.
A fox can squeeze through a hole of only about four inches, so they can easily dig their way under a fence.
To counter this, one option is to have a fence skirt around the bottom of your fence that covers the ground to at least a foot away from the base of your coop. This will mean a fox has to do a whole lot of extra work if it wants to burrow its way into your coop.
4. Underground fencing
If you use a mobile chicken tractor, a fence skirt is among the best options, but if you have a fixed coop, an even better idea is to have a fence that continues into the ground.
If the fence goes at least a foot or more into the ground, the fox will have a much harder job of burrowing down and then back up on the other side, keeping your chickens a whole lot safer.
5. Solid floor
Even better is to have a solid floor – either made of wood or concrete. You can even put a solid floor below the surface and then cover it over with dirt to make it more natural for your chickens.
Another option is to use a concrete floor with plenty of bedding to make it more comfortable for your birds.
6. Secure bolts
Foxes are incredibly smart animals, and a simple latch will not keep them out of a coop for long because they’ll soon work out how to open it.
Instead, you need to fit proper bolts that a fox won’t be able to undo – don’t underestimate foxes’ abilities to solve problems and open doors either because if you do, you will end up losing birds.
7. Check all potential gaps or holes
Check your coop carefully for any access points that a fox might exploit to get to your chickens.
We’ve already mentioned above that a fox only needs a hole of around four inches to push through, so check all air vents and any other potential access points to make sure the fox can’t get in.
8. Fit an automatic door
Fitting an automatic chicken door won’t keep a fox out, but it might help save your chickens if you forget to put them away.
Automatic doors can be set to open and close according to light levels, or they can be set on a timer – and having one will help prevent your birds from being captured and eaten due to you forgetting to put them away for the night.
9. Electric fences
Finally, a slightly more extreme solution is to set up an electric fence.
Electric fences give foxes an unpleasant surprise, but they don’t really harm them.
However, a fox that receives an electric shock to the nose as it sniffs around your coop is unlikely to persist, so in areas where foxes – or other predators – are prevalent, an electric fence is an excellent choice.
The other key to ensuring your chickens stay safe from foxes is to check your defenses regularly.
You might have everything set up and feel sure your chickens are safe, but weathering can weaken wire fencing, dead batteries can render sound deterrents useless, people can leave chicken run doors open and predators can damage runs, even if they didn’t get in first time.
The lesson to learn is to guard against complacency and check that everything is in order at least once a month, if not more often, to ensure your flock stays safe from harm.
Many steps you can take
As we’ve seen, there are many steps you can take to keep your chickens safe from foxes, including setting up deterrents, making your property less appealing to foxes and making sure your coop is strong enough to keep even the most determined fox at bay.
If you implement some or all of these ideas – and you don’t let your guard down by becoming complacent – even the wiliest, most determined fox won’t be able to get at your chickens.