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Author Topic: Fox proofing for our chickens  (Read 62487 times)

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Foxy

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« on: November 01, 2008, 18:03 »
There have been some truly heart-breaking accounts on here regarding the aftermath of a fox visit on our henhouses. Now is a very challenging time for all of us as Mr Raynaud gets braver and more cunning the hungerier he gets. Between all of us  perhaps we could come up with some tips, advice etc based on our experiences here.Just an idea as every little thing helps..

I thought I would kick off with electrified poultry netting. :D

I have been using electrified netting for nearly three years and my OH using it for a lot longer. Not once since using have we lost a chicken to the fox.
So how does it work? (scusme not very technical  :shock: ) Bascically you have either a battery powered system or mains both are just as effective.(I use both) The system consists of an "energiser" which converts low voltage (12v or 240v) into 6000 volts and quote my OH "its the volts that jolts!!!" :lol:  Now you need a metal pole to act as an "earth", some good units come with this and you use it to stick the energiser into the ground for example the hobbyhorse P450

http://www.forshamcottagearks.com/electric-fencing/P450-Electric-Fencing-Kit.htm

I have used this one and found it very easy to use and has the advantage of having a flashing light to tell you whether its on or off and the whole unit is just pushed into the ground using the earth pole itself, very easy!

When you have decided which type of energiser -mains or battery - make sure it is able to power the poultry net easily, for example always go for the most powerful energiser possible if you use a 50m poultry net go for one which will power 2 or 3 50m nets.  A quick note: if battery powered go for a good quality "leisure" battery which should last about 6 weeks between charges. The battery usually is attached using crocodile clips.

There are 2 main reasons for netting to fail 1. Human error you forget to turn it on 2. the net is "shorting" this simply means the power is being drained by the long grass or undergrowth around the live netting, so you need to make sure the undergrowth is strimmed around the base of the netting. Another good idea is to invest in a "fence tester" these will tell you the current "voltage" of the fence - anything 3,000 volts or above will be sufficent to deter the fox (and any humans! :shock: )I check mine every night, when its starts to drop I walk around the netting looking for long grass or obstructions ,sometimes fencing can sag at little, I check that the earth pole is driven deep enough into the ground.

You dont have to use poultry netting to protect your birds -some people I know using  tensioned wire placed at intervals around the base, middle and top of fencing I know this system was used at Holly Waterfowl Farm for many years very effectively. Personally I like the poultry netting -I use the green netting as it blends into the garden, but will be updating it all this winter to use a combination of tensioned wire and poultry netting.
Poultry netting is available in 25,50 and 100m lengths.
 
Finally never ever be complacent regarding your electrified netting -Mr Fox will always check and will know if its on or off. The only reason it wont work I firmly believe is down to human error.

This is a photo of Mr Raynaud stalking my fence -I had checked the fence the night before -if the fox had touched it he would have had a shock of 6,000 volts -although  sounds a lot its worth noting -would only shock us a and not cause us any physical damage -(excluding your pride that is! :lol: )



I hope this helps! please add to it as I am sure the techies will!
 :D


poultrygeist

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2008, 19:01 »
Excellent idea foxy.

The only fox-'proofing' I know is wire mesh. The physical barrier oft quoted on the forums.

Must be minimum 19gauge/1mm thickness steel wire galvanised mesh. Not chicken wire (hex). This will be too thin and a fox can chew through it. 25mmx13mm mesh will keep out most rats but 25mm will be adequate for foxes.
It should be as high as possible. For a walk in run, 5ft is usually adequate. If you can put a roof over, used either solid corrugated plastic or similar wire mesh. Also either bury 9-12" in the ground or run a 'skirt' around the bottom. You can also use slabs at the base.
Anything left around the perimeter will be used to climb in but they can also clamber up the sides and jump.
It's been said that they have similar agility to a cat. Keep this in mind as well as their strong teeth and jaws, as well good digging ability and you'll see the need for extra caution.

All of this assumes a fixed run. You can't move this around, once constructed.

Feel free to add to/contradict this also.

Rob 8)

Foxy

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2008, 18:25 »
If using electric fencing.
Chickens are very well insulated against the shock due to their feathers.
I do have Pekins and small orpies and have never had a problem. Suppliers can provide quite small mesh which is recommended for smaller birds. I tend to put young birds in the electrified area over a time when I am around to watch them to ensure they are not running into the fence and getting caught, they do get used to it pretty quickly! :D

Here are a couple of sites you might find useful TMG... the one below has some good ideas to borrow...

http://www.davethefence.co.uk/FencingServices.html

and this site has info about small mesh netting at the bottom of the link,but also does contain some very comprehensive information about electrified poultry netting.

http://www.smallholdershop.co.uk/fencing.html

Hope this helps!
« Last Edit: March 13, 2009, 13:43 by poultrygeist »

poultrygeist

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2008, 18:40 »
Just a few more ideas that may, or may not, be deterrants. If anyone else can add to the list, however wild and wacky, it may put off a fox for a while.

I have some CDs hanging around the run at fox height. Also, several solar lights to cause a few flashes and a 150w PIR near the coop which may or may not come on if one appeared.
Obviously solidly built coop and reasonably built run as well. All doors and hatches bolted or latched so that a fox can't lift or open them.

Rob

Evansent

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2008, 12:40 »
You did say wild and wacky ideas too didn't you?!!  

 Well I am going to build a scarecrow (or should that be scare fox?)  and put outside my run, so that they think a human is standing there, not sure how smart foxes are and how long it will take for them to realise though. It may also act as a double aid for making my chickens used to human company.

Still, my 5 year old son is really excited at the idea of making one and for that reason alone, i just have to. :)

C xx
It's not the years that age you, it's the weekends!!!

poultrygeist

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2008, 18:01 »
Sounds like a great idea Evansent. Apparently they are wary of anything different, so thwy will get used to it and ignore it but if you can move it around and change the smell of it, it should have an effect.
Also something like tin cans that might clang in the breeze and/or CDs to swing around.

Rob 8)

poultrygeist

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2008, 18:25 »
This information courtesy of member "Clodbuster".....

Found this blog on a trial to keep foxes from predating chickens, thought it may be of interest to some.

http://electricfencing.blogspot.com/

Rob

karlooben

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2008, 19:25 »
please can i add something .

if like me you have built quite a large run but cant dig the wire into the ground { i tried it nearly killed me ,lol } an have had to use the L shape on the ground then i suggest that u try an get hold of old railway sleepers  or  motorway sleepers { these are similar to railway ones but not quite as long } they do come in different sizes and if u look hard enough they can be really cheap but also i can tell you  aint no fox going to dig or attempt to lift them .i was lucky when i got mine a few years ago from a freind who did some motorway work an he sold me 125 for £1.35 each  but they soon went on borders for ppls allotments .

an they last for ever as well i know that ppl with allotments tend to like to recycle so i figured i would add this .
"Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened."

Fen

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2008, 21:06 »
I am sure that the advice given regarding electric fencing is sound.
But there may be cheaper options.For the last 12 years we  have had 30 chickens  in a wired area, of about 200 x200 yds split into 4 plots. All have access to a central chicken house.
We are next to a Nat Trust Reserve and see foxes weekly. We had an earth last year within 800 mtrs of the chicken runs.
Taking advice from an old gamekeeper we have kept all our chicken wire netting(5ft. high) slack between the posts as he told me that foxes will only climb a taught wire. We do bury the bottom  to stop the foxes digging underneath.
On the 'drawbridge' into the house we have used a metal footscraper which I am told foxes will not walk on.
Foxes haven't had any of our chickens but two years ago I had to shoot  a fox on his third visit to the chicken area in 24 hours.

Phil W

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2008, 21:25 »
Hi All. I'm in the process of setting my allotment up for poultry keeping. The 1 thing I am hearing and reading most is about keeping the foxes out. I'm big on recycling (and scrounging) what I can. So far my plans are 80m2 of block paving (an ex driveway) to be laid on edge 1 on top of another to a depth of about a foot and then another laid flat on top. Then I've scrounged a load of old wooden fencing (ex playing field 6ft plus boundary.) This will be cut in half and tidied up to make a fence of about 3ft high right around the pen. Above this (might have to buy it :cry: ) will be wire, hopefully weld mesh or chainlink, maybe small mesh chicken wire depending on finances, upto at least 6ft high. Also (from freecycle) I have a couple of very solid wooden gates 6ft tall.These will be hung as close as possible to the ground above a couple of freecycled paving slabs. I'm also planning netting over the top of the run to keep wild birds etc out. If this lot doesnt keep the foxes out I dont know what else it will need. I have thought about electric fencing but I share the pathway between my plot and my neighbour so I dont think thats an option.
Phil.

poultrygeist

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2008, 20:17 »
Hi Phil.

Only thing I can think of is that a fox would be able to clamber up the 3ft fence, then up the top 3ft and gain access to the top. If the roof wasn't fox-proof, it might be able to chew through to the inside.

If you could make the top 3ft weldmesh or chainlink and have a bit of an overhang near the top, and/or make the roof either solid plastic (cost!) or weldmesh again. That's the ideal and my run isn't that good, but we're working towards it.

I elected for 25x13 weldmesh up to about 5'6" which makes it rat-resistant too.

Well done for scavenging. Wish I'd had access to some. Costs a fortune.

Rob 8)

Clodbuster

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2008, 12:40 »
The nice thing about the poultry netting is it's portability, so easy to move around and the birds get new ground to peck over. I put a length of builders damp course under the net to prevent grass growing up and the net sagging onto the ground. I also use one of these new Energisers that run at 10000v to give foxy a good belt. The chooks also don't escape at all.

Roll Roll

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2008, 20:46 »
It seems electric fencing is the way to go. I know of one instance where a fox repeatedly charged at the chicken wire on a pigeon loft so as to push the wire off the frame, he almost did it to before being disturbed. The only lesson learned here was to put the mesh infront of the frame. I know it isnt as attractive but the more he charges the more he pushes it against the frame so making stronger, I think??
I may take my time.....but i'll get there in the end.

STEVE

Crisper

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2008, 12:45 »
Hi, having just had our first fox attack, albeit he failed as I chased him away, I have been doing a lot of research on how to protect them from further attacks.

As I have cats and a small child an electric fence isn't the best solution for me, but I have read that male (human) urine works well, so I now have my poor hubby trudging up the garden regularly to pee round the outside of their run!

Any other non-electrical ideas greatly welcomed :)
Emma

poultrygeist

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Fox proofing for our chickens
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2008, 16:50 »
I have found SITE to be very informative about foxes.

Under the 'deterrence' section, they give some good advice, and there's some interesting info about their behaviour.

I think knowing your enemy is the best way of beating him. I'd like to get to the stage where we can secure our run well enough that a fox sighting would be no more of a problem than a blackbird.
That said, I wouldn't want to get complacent. :)

Rob 8)



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