Keeping your Chickens Safe from Fox

  • Fox Proofing the Chicken Coopย 
  • Suggestions to Keep Fox Awayย 

The fox is an efficient and clever hunter with the capability to dig and maneuver through very small spaces.  With little effort, a fox can chew through chicken wire and open latches that are of simple operation. Factory made coops often have both lightweight wire and flimsy latches which are merely an invitation to dinner for a fox.

Fox are mostly nocturnal animals, so your chickens are most at risk at night, unfortunately, when you’re sleeping.  However, a hungry fox who knows chickens are free ranging during the day, will hunt then.

They’re smart and patient, they will watch your coop for weeks before they attack. Every bird the fox can grab in the coop will be killed, often the entire flock will be completely wiped out. Theyโ€™ll take as many birds from the coop with them. I think I have your attention now, so here’s what you can do to help protect your flock…

How to Fox Proof the Chicken Coop

  • A wire floor secured to the coop frame will prevent fox from burrowing under the coop. You can get wire that has bigger holes so your chickens can still scratch in the dirt. If that’s not possible, attach a wire skirt around the coop so that a fox can’t dig or burrow near the coop. However, this means you won’t be able to move your coop.
  • Enclose the coop with heavy gauge wire and make sure there are no gaps in the corners, around doors, or where the sides meet the roof.
  • Put two sturdy latches on the coop door, or use a lock.
  • If there access to the nest box make sure it’s locked at night.

Building or Buying a Coop?

Ideal housing for chickens where predators are a problem (which is everywhere) is a ventilated shed or structure with solid walls and a floor for overnight. An attached covered pen with heavy gauge wire and perimeter wire skirting for daytime use.

Suggestions to Help Keep Fox Away

  • Sensor lights near the coop are a help keeping away fox, you can easily buy solar and put them low to the ground.
  • Motion sprinklers near the coop are another option, predators are startled by water.

Hope this article help you keep your flock safe!

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Chicken Coop is Finished

Preparing for the Brooder to Coop Transition

The chicks are heading into their 5th week in the brooder and will be ready to move into the coop the following week. This is what I call their transitional week. Their radiant heat heat source is slowly taken away, and they’ll also lose their all-night red lighting.

The first few nights I switch from red lighting to a white night light, then the night light is taken away. By the time they transition from brooder to coop they will have learned to accept cooler temperatures and total darkness at night.

In most parts of the country chicks are kept in the brooder until they are fully feathered, which is usually around 8 weeks. Here in Phoenix, Arizona, by the end of April temperatures during the day reach about 85-90, lows about 65. Therefore, it’s plenty warm to move the chicks to the coop at about 6 weeks. As you can see, they’re pretty well feathered already!

The Finished Coop

The coop is an existing 10×10 x walk-in covered dog enclosure converted to a chicken coop. It’s inside a 3 stall covered open air barn, offering them plenty of shade and fresh air. It has taken almost 3 weeks to completely cover the chair link fencing with 1/2 inch hardware cloth.
Needless to say, I have spent my self-quarantine time wisely. Unfortunately, my fingers are a mess from working with stubborn wire and zip ties.

Predators have been a problem in the past, we have had our share of traumatic experiences with hawks, bobcats, and coyotes. I’ve lost at 8 birds over the years, with so much time on my hands, this was a good time to put the effort into predator proofing the coop. Not to mention keeping wild birds from entering the coop and eating all the chicken feed.

Tip: Chicken wire isn’t going to keep your birds safe from predators, always use hardware cloth. Chicken wire can be chewed through or easily bent to give predators access.
Also, lay /bury hardware cloth at the base of the coop to prevent digging by raccoons and coyotes, etc.  More About Predators

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Resource Library for Chicken Keepers

Learning Center

๐Ÿ™‚ Indicates Article Written by TBN Ranch

Charts & Diagrams
Chicken Anatomy, External, Internal, and Skeletal
Chicken Anatomy, Full Color
Chicken Combs and Wattles
Chicken Egg Color Chart
Chicken Feather Variations & Markings
Chicken Feeding Chart
Development of a Chick
Checklist for Chicken Coop

๐Ÿ™‚ Raising Baby Chicks | TBN Ranch

Preparing for, and managing baby chicks.
Everything you need to know, step by step.

Raising Baby Chicks
๐Ÿ™‚ How to Buy Chicks from a Feed Store|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Brooder to Coop, When? | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ How to Care for your Mail Order Chicks|TBNRanch
Raising Chicks|Micro Farm Life Micro Farm Life
Solutions for Spraddle Leg Fresh Eggs Daily | Poultry Help.com
Chapter 4: Caring for baby chicks My Pet Chicken
๐Ÿ™‚ About the Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Controlling Temperature in the Brooder|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Choosing a Radiant Heat Chick Brooder| TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Introducing Hatch-a-longs to the flock | TBN Ranch

๐Ÿ™‚ Fecal Impaction / AKA Pasting-Up | TBN Ranch

Young chicks commonly suffer from fecal impaction, and if left untreated they will die. The warning signs are listlessness, stumbling, and sometimes a swollen abdomen. Most likely your ailing chick has a dirty bum with caked on fecal matter hindering the ability to poop. What to Do

Managing the Flock
Coop Building Plans
๐Ÿ™‚ Backyard Chickens, Know What you’re Getting into | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Can Chickens Fly? | TBN Ranch
Chicken Keeping in Winter City Girl Farming
๐Ÿ™‚ Chicken TERMINOLOGY|TBN Ranch
City Chickens, Getting Started wikiHow
Chicken Care The Chicken Chickยฎ
๐Ÿ™‚ Intervention and Management of Problematic Pecking | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ How Long Does a Chicken Live?|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ How Much Space Chickens Need | TBN Ranch
Understanding the Molting Process Murray McMurray
๐Ÿ™‚ All About Molting|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Introducing New Chickens|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Keeping Chickens Cool|TBN Ranch ๐Ÿ™‚ MORE
๐Ÿ™‚ Pecking Order | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ The Chicken’s Senses|TBN Ranch

๐Ÿ™‚ Articles for Chicken Keepers, by Chicken Keepers

Hundreds of collected articles from across the web.
Content contributors sharing their experience and expertise.

Broodies & Incubation
๐Ÿ™‚ Keeping Hens with Eggs or Chicks safe Among the Flock| TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ BREAKING THE BROODY HEN | TBN Ranch
Broody Hens vs Incubators Pros & Cons Backyard Chickens
How to Incubate & Hatch Eggs Backyard Chickens
My Pet Chicken Guide to Incubation & Hatching My Pet Chicken
Caring for Broody Hens The Chicken Chick
How to Choose the Perfect Incubator The Happy Chicken Coop
Beginner’s Guide to Incubation Backyard Chickens
๐Ÿ™‚ Why a Hen Leaves the Nest After Laying an Egg | TBN Ranch
When is it Safe to Open the Incubator? Cluckin mad about chickens
Solving Incubation Issues When Hatching Eggs Hobby Farms

๐Ÿ™‚ Over 500 Coops to Ponder Over

Which coop is right for you and your flock? Traditional, unique, DYI, or maybe you’re looking for an elaborate set-up? View Now

Feeding Chickens
๐Ÿ™‚ Choosing a Feeder, View the Many Choices | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Feeding Chickens Rolled Oats | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Feeding Hemp Seed | TBN Ranch
Fresh Food List for Chickens Backyard Chickens
๐Ÿ™‚ Toxic Food List for Chickens | TBN Ranch
Feeding & Watering Chickens Willow Creek Farm
Feeding Chickens at Different Ages The Chicken Chickยฎ
How Do Chickens Digest Food? Backyard Poultry
Natural Supplements for Chickens Home & Garden Guides
Gardening with Chickens, Plants to Avoid the good life ain’t easy
๐Ÿ™‚Understanding Chick Starter & Grower Feed | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ About Grit and Chicks & Chickens | TBN Ranch

๐Ÿ™‚ Breed Profiles & Characteristics

Building a flock? There are many beautiful chicken breeds to choose from, each having something special to offer. The breeds we chose in this article are primarily birds we are familiar with.
Details are specifically about temperament, egg size, egg color, egg production, primary use, and weight.

Ancestry
Chickens, History and Ancestry Phillip Clauer
A History of Chickens: Then (1900) Vs Now (2016) The Happy Chicken Coop

๐Ÿ™‚ Managing the Brooder Temperature | TBN Ranch

The brooder is where your chicks will live until they are fully feathered. This article will help you keep them comfortable by understanding their behavior while using a traditional heat lamp or today’s radiant heat alternative. Read Article

Managing Eggs
๐Ÿ™‚ Brittle Eggs | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Cleaning Farm Eggs | TBN Ranch
Incubate & Hatch Eggs Backyard Chickens
๐Ÿ™‚ Why Homegrown Eggs Are Better | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Why Your Hens Aren’t Laying Eggs, Solution | TBN Ranch

๐Ÿ™‚ Understanding the Pecking Order

It is often the stronger or larger birds that rank highest in the social order. This article will help you learn how to minimize the drama when the bullying becomes excessive.

๐Ÿ™‚ When to Expect the First Egg | TBN Ranch

If you buy your birds as chicks, you can expect to feed and care for them for 22 to 24 weeks before they reach their point of lay. However, this depends on the breed, time of year, and the level of care they have received. Learn in detail how to determine the point of lay HERE.


๐Ÿ™‚ Breaking the Broody Hen|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Identifying Chicken Predators AFTER They Attack|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Getting Chickens to Roost in the Right Place|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Clipping Chicken Nails | TBN Ranch
Winterizing the Chicken House ART & BRI
5 Different Types of Coop Heaters The Happy Chicken Coop
Top 10 Tips for Keeping Chickens in Winter The Spruce, Lauren Arcuri
How to Keep your Chickens Safe from Possums The Happy Chicken Coop
Pros & Cons of Keeping a Rooster Rural Living
Ultimate Chicken Coop Guide Mile Four

๐Ÿ™‚ Drinkers/Waterers

So many to choose from, but which one best fits your flock’s needs? Auto-fill, nipple, standard fill, or DIY, view them all in one convenient place HERE.

๐Ÿ™‚ Keeping Chickens in Extreme Heat | TBN Ranch

 Is your chicken yard and coop suitable to sustain the well-being of your flock in the summer? Itโ€™s essential to prepare for extreme heat, or your birds may suffer from heat exhaustion… Read More

How to Humanely Euthanize a Chicken The Chicken Chick
Guide to Chicken Keeping in Extreme Cold Scoop from the Coop
๐Ÿ™‚ The Best Way to Catch a Chicken|TBN Ranch
Chicken Coop Ramps, The Ultimate Guide The Featherbrain
๐Ÿ™‚ Chicken Roost Types & Ideas|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Raising Chickens, Pros & Cons|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Winter Chicken Keeping in Phoenix | TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Keeping Chickens Safe From Fox|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Salmonella Safety Practices for Chicken Keepers|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Less Waste, No Mess Chicken Feeders|TBN Ranch

๐Ÿ™‚ Hatcheries & Retailers

A list of our favorite hatcheries & retailers. We have purchased chicks from all these hatcheries and have always been satisfied. Online retailers are also included, especially useful for those hard to find items. Visit Now

Poultry Health & Medical
๐Ÿ™‚ About Worming Chickens|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Dosages of the Good Stuff… For Chicken with Parasites|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Backyard Biosecurity|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Loss of Baby Chicks|TBN Ranch
๐Ÿ™‚ Salmonella|TBN Ranch
How to Treat Bumblefoot Hobby Farms
Diseases: 5 Common Flock Problems & How to Treat Them The Happy Chicken Coop

๐Ÿ™‚ Nest Box & Bedding Gallery More than 100 to View!

Nesting boxes are essential and extremely useful for chickens and their keepers. A clean, private and peaceful space encourages hens to lay eggs all in one place. Without nest boxes, hens will lay their eggs in random places, which is inconvenient for keepers. Here are many ideas to help you find the right nest boxes for your flock. View Now

How-To Videos
Sexing Chicks

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Raising Baby Chicks the First Seven Weeks

Research, Plan, and Prepare, Everything you Need to Know


Raising chicks can be easy if you just do your homework before you buy. Knowing when to plan for your chick’s arrival is also something to take into consideration. Of course it makes good sense to have your coop set up and supplies ahead of time. But it would also be helpful to be informed of what’s new in today’s chicken keeping market. For example, the use of radiant heat instead of heat lamps, or all the new ideas for drinkers and feeders that are designed to save you time and money.

Before you bring home chicks you’ll need a brooder to raise them in for the next 5-7 weeks. Need help choosing the best type? No problem, here’s a ton of ideas, Brooder Box Ideas.  While your chicks are in the brooder, you’ll have plenty of time to get their coop ready. Whether a DIY project or not, every coop size and style imaginal can be found HERE.

Research, have a plan, be prepared, and know what to expect, these four things will help ease your commitment so there’s more time to enjoy your birds.

It’ll be helpful to have some understanding of Basic Chicken Terminology, this reference article will help you through the maze of chicken lingo. Spring is on the way, so let’s get get started!

Caring for Chicks

The enclosure that will house your chicks for the next 5-7 weeks is called a brooder. It can be anything from a cardboard box to something more extravagant as shown in the pics below. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it definitely needs to be convenient for you to manage, and be comfortable for your chicks. See more brooder pics.

The First Two Weeks

If you are raising bantams, day old, or mail order chicks who may be weak from their long journey, line the brooder box with paper towels for the first week. Use a drinker & feeder designed specifically for chicks and place it directly on the paper towels. Your chick’s feed is readily available at all feed stores, ask for chick starter. The bag will say chick starter, or chick starter/grower, they’re one and the same. You have one other feed detail to decide upon, medicated or non-medicated. Personally, if my chicks are mail order, I feed medicated for the first week, if bought from a feed store, I feed non-medicated.

Sometimes, baby chicks act lethargic or weak from either a long trip or other stressful conditions. In this case, you may want to give them a little electrolyte boost for two or three days. Simply add Sav-a-chick electrolytes and vitamin supplement to their water source. It’s available anywhere chicks are sold, also on Amazon.

Sav-a-chick electrolytes

If you bought your chicks from a feed store, they’re probably a few days to a week old, and most likely accustomed to pine shavings for their bedding. It’s okay to continue using pine shavings at this point. This will help keep the brooder smelling fresh, changing it every day is good practice.

Pine Shavings
Pine Shavings

Your chicks will need enough space to move freely, and after the second week will need the box covered with chicken wire.
One half of the brooder shouldn’t have a heat source at all. The other, preferably radiant heat from a Brinsea Brooder or equivalent, which will be further explained later in this article.
Watch for poopy or pasty butts! This is a common problem usually bought on by stress, or uncomfortable living conditions during the first two weeks. Using a wet paper towel, or baby wipes, clean those fuzzy butts, because this condition hinders fecal elimination… which is often fatal.
As your chicks become more active, keeping the food & drink sources clean is challenging, so here’s a few tips. Raise the drinker to the height of the smallest chick’s back, this will minimize the litter from landing in their water. Use bricks, 2×4 pieces, flower pot saucers, even a bowl upside down will do the trick.
Tip: Set their feeder in something that will catch the feed they scratch out, this will substantially minimize feed waste. Be creative, use a flower pot saucer, a pie tin, etc.

Temperature Control in the Brooder, Radiant Heat vs Heat Lamps

Brinsea

Keeping the temperature right can be a chore, especially if you depend on a heat lamp. You’ll spend a good deal of time raising and lowering it during the day as temperatures change, which is exactly why I rarely use them.  I never raise chicks indoors, they’re always kept in a shed or garage during a time when overnight temperatures seldom drop below 55-60. Heat lamps have their place, but I only use them if a cold spell occurs before my chicks reach a month old.  My primary heat source is radiant heat. It doesn’t heat up the brooder, it only provides warmth when the chicks settle underneath it.

Your chicks will be happiest if they can actually touch the surface, so keep the unit nice and low, you can easily raise it as they grow. Radiant heat is certainly more natural, chicks have been settling under their mothers in cool climates to keep warm since somewhere around 6000BC!

Radiant heat is a sufficient heat source for chicks if the ambient temperature is at least 55 degrees. Again, this is why seasonal planning for your chick arrival is important.
Keep a thermometer inside the box to monitor the temperature, but watching the chicks behavior is the best indication of their comfort. Rule of thumb: If they’re huddled together, they’re cold. If some are eating or drinking, others sleeping, and the rest under radiant heat, you have happy chicks. There’s no worry about your chicks finding the radiant heat, place them under it when you bring them home and they will return to their comfort zone all on their own.

Note: Important Fact about Radiant Heat: The thermometer in the brooder should read at least 55 degrees. You won’t feel heat when placing your hand under the radiant heat unit unless you touch the plate. Remember, radiant heat doesn’t heat the brooder at all, only the chicks when they are under it… so try not to stress over what seems cold to you.

What if There’s a Cold Spell?

If it’s necessary to use a heat lamp on a chilly night, avoid placing it directly over the chicks when radiant heat is available to them.  A heat lamp near the coop to keep the ambient temp around 55 degrees works well.

Note: Heat lamps for chicks in feed stores are almost always only available in 250 watts. That is a lot of heat! You already have a heat source, so there’s no need to blast them with 250 watt heat lamp. There’s an easy fix to that, 50, 75, and 100 watt heat bulbs are easily found on Amazon, choose a wattage that will keep the ambient temp at or around 55 degrees. You can often find lower wattage heat bulbs at pet stores in reptile supplies.

Always use a red bulb, the light from the clear bulb are too bright and the chicks may become agitated, which inevitably leads to the unwanted problem of chicks pecking each other.

Keeping Chicks Indoors?

There is no need for a heat lamp at all if you use radiant heat. They will be much happier with natural lighting and far less likely to have pasty butts, which often is the culprit of chick fatality. But, there are drawbacks to raising chicks indoors, I wont tell you not to, but here’s three reasons why I don’t.
First, when chicks are ready to be moved to the coop they’ll need to acclimate to harsher weather conditions and fluctuating temperatures. Second, by the time they are three weeks old, well… they’ll stink, to put it bluntly. Trust me, You’ll be cleaning their brooder box constantly and wishing they were anywhere but your living space.  They will also be very active in what has probably become very cramped quarters at about three weeks old. And Third, chicks mature slower.
The rule of thumb is keep chicks in a controlled temperature until they are fully feathered, which is about 6-7 weeks. Chicks raised in cooler temperatures with a moderate heat source are often fully feathered by 5 weeks.
To sum it all up…  plan to buy chicks when they’ll be comfortable in a garage or outdoor shed using primarily radiant heat. This will depend on where you live, for most folks it’s springtime. Others, like the lower desert southwest, mid February and late fall is ideal.

Three to Six Weeks

Three weeks is a good time to introduce a perch for your chicks. A tree branch or one inch dowel rod will be sufficient. They’ll be reluctant to explore this strange new object, but in a day or two their curiosity will definitely get the best of them. Learning to perch now aids in their transition to roost as adults. Why is this important? It’s good practice to keep nest boxes clean for obvious reasons… and hens sleeping where they lay is anything but. In every coop a roosting bar should be provided, it is instinctual for birds to roost elevated, so this won’t be a difficult task to accomplish. There are however exceptions to the rule of roosting. Silkie Bantams are often reluctant to venture  any higher than 3 feet… if at all.

Three weeks is also the perfect time to introduce a little grass for them to enjoy, but there are three rules. 1. No long pieces, 2. not to much, and 3, have grit available in the brooder to help them digest this strange new food. Grass is a good distraction to an array of possible problems in the brooder as well, such as pecking each other, or bullying. It keeps them busy! Just keep in mind, problems always occur for a reason. Most commonly, overcrowding, bright lights, or undesirable temperatures.

Moving Day, Brooder to Coop

When your chicks are fully feathered (5-7 weeks) they are ready to leave the brooder and be moved to the coop. It should be well ventilated, be spacious enough to include a roost bar, have shelter from wind, rain, inclement weather, and protection from the sun. Provide at least one nest box for every two birds. Two square feet of ground space per bird would be adequate, but the more space you give your flock the better. Crowding is the perfect recipe for bullying when establishing early and continual pecking orders.
Feed and water should be elevated to the height of the smallest bird’s back, this will help keep their food and water clean. You can either hang them, or simply find something stationary such as bricks, or a cinder block.
Note: Some chicken keepers prefer to move their chicks to a grow-out pen before the coop. This is just a smaller coop where they’re housed until bigger. Grow-out pens are especially important if you have an existing flock, where a whole new set of rules applies for introductions.

Diet / The First Egg

At point of lay, (5-6 months) your birds are ready for a change in their diet. This is the perfect time to switch from chick starter/grower, to layer pellets. You can expect the first egg from your pullets anytime now.

Don’t Forget to Protect your Flock from Predators!

Watch out for these guys! They are bad news.

Don’t think for a minute that your flock is immune to a predator attack. There’s no place on the planet where chickens are safe from predators…. not even in your suburban backyard. And guess what, not in your coop either, unless you’ve made every effort to predator proof every nook and cranny. That means, no animal will be able to dig under the coop, or get in over the top. It means there are no gaps around doors and windows, and the coop door has a secure latch to keep them safe at night.

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