Two hens disappeared to give me warning. Then I saw I was in the middle of a deadly game of foxes and chickens.
Several years ago I played another game of foxes and chickens when a pair of gray foxes and their kits took up residence under the house. The first reaction of most chicken farmers is to get out a gun and shoot the foxes. End of game.
We try to live here in harmony – as much as possible – with the wildlife we are displacing with our buildings and gardens and such. How does a chicken farmer cope with gray foxes?
The house and foxes were on one side of the road. The barn, chicken house and chickens were on the other side of the road. The road had to become a boundary.
The first defensive move was to keep the chickens locked up in their yard unless I was there to watch them. The fox countered by trying to sneak up on the hens when I looked the other way.
The second defensive move was to yell, scream and chase the fox. The fox persisted. So did I.
The third defensive move was to go over the fence along the road. It now has chicken wire over the field fence. The chickens stay inside the fenced in area. The foxes know it is a boundary.
The fourth defensive move was to counter the reason the fox wanted to get to the chickens. A growing family is hungry. Store chicken is quite acceptable to a fox.
I lost half my flock the first year. The second year I lost a few hens as the defensive moves took effect.
The foxes are back. The chicken wire is still there. I am restricting when the chickens can be outside. Chicken is on the grocery list.
The deadly foxes and chickens game has resumed with a new wrinkle. The foxes are now living under the barn. At least their entrance is outside the chicken fence.
Raising chickens takes responsibility and a good chicken house. Hazel Whitmore learns some of this in “Mistaken Promises“.