Fox Proofing the Chicken Coop Suggestions to Keep Fox Away
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. They’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 iseverywhere) 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.
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