Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chickens

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mzaslan
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Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chickens

Post by mzaslan » Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:18 pm

Hi Im tottally new to keeping chickens. Im in the research phase.
(in fact to new to internet forums aswell!)
I liven in a urban area but have a fox that lives very close.
He strolls though our garden throughout the night and we sometimes even see him during the day.
Hes definately going to know about the chickens if I get them.
So although I can build a coop and run with the required protection, both above and below ground (Im a builder) my concern is that even though the fox may not be able to get in, the chicknes will know its outside and just be frightened all the time.
I would imagine that to very distressing and would defeat the point of me keeping them.
So in summary, there will be a fox around for sure, and although the coop and run will be secure, will the chikens be ok?
Is that fair on the chickens?
Please could anyone comment on this.

Thank you
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chrismahon
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by chrismahon » Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:33 pm

Hello Mzasian and welcome to the forum. They may well be frightened initially, but I expect them to get used to it so long as it can't get right up to the wire. The effect is just the same as a domestic dog. It is very important, perhaps vital, though that new chickens are kept as stress free as possible when they arrive. So the presence of either a dog or a fox must be avoided.

Stress causes illness due to weakening of the immune system. The worst case scenario is new immunised hybrids. They are very prone to flare-ups of the immunisation viruses which are in effect a deliberate infections given to them when they are young enough to cope. The intention is to protect these birds from infections later in life but it appears to make them even more susceptible to illness and, as such, is completely counter-productive for a small backyard flock. From what I have been reading recently the combination of IB, ILT, Mycoplasma and sometimes Mareks leaves them in a rather fragile state. There have been several reports recently of stressed new arrivals becoming so ill they die, despite expensive medication.

You will need to get rid of the fox before getting chickens I think.
mzaslan
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by mzaslan » Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:36 pm

Thanks Chris.
Damn that fox!
Hmmm...I'll have to think about this as I really dont want to have chickens that are stressed becuase of where I have put them.
Any ideas of how to get rid of the fox?
I'll do some internet searches on this i guess.
Oh and thank you for introducing me to the idea of immunisations...hadn't thought of that.
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Marigold
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by Marigold » Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:28 pm

Hi mzaslan and welcome to the Forum. Glad you're doing some research before getting your birds. You've obviously realised the importance of safe housing for back garden chickens in an area where foxes are prevealent, so you'll need to plan a really secure run, with a roof and weldmesh sides, and further deterrents to digging in, round the base. If you use 1/2" weldmesh it will also exclude rats, mice and small birds and a fox won't be able to get his teeth into the mesh to bite it. In your situation you won't be able to let the birds out into the garden safely, even when you're out there with them. We've had reports on here of foxes attacking even whilst the owners were watching the birds, especially in an urban area where foxes are less in awe of humans. So the run will need to be big enough for the maximum number you think you'll want, now or in the future. It needs to provide a minimum of two square metres of floor space per bird, and they will be pefectly happy and content in there if you give them some perches to look out from, a dustbath, a coop which is raised off the ground for them to get underneath, and feed and water stations. If the run is too small they will get stressed, may fight and feather-peck, and will be harder to keep clean and healthy. A solid roof will improve security, keep the run drier, and reduce the risk of wild birds shaking redmite off their feathers when perching on top of a mesh roof. You obviously can't get rid of the fox, and if you did, another one would arrive, so you'll just have to make sure your birds are safe. Of course you might consider electric fencing - a wire at nose level for the fox a metre away from the run might be effective. See the articles on Poutrykeeper, here
http://poultrykeeper.com/pests-and-predators/foxes-chickens


You don't say what kind of hens you're thinking of getting. From my experience, I wouldn't be put off from getting fully vaccinated Point of lay (POL) pullets if you want plenty of eggs from reliably healthy birds. If you can find a good supplier and are happy with the conditions his birds are kept in, you're much more likely to avoid all sorts of health problems if you start with vaccinated birds. I've been keeping chickens for many years and have never had any problems with the common diseases that are normally prevented by vaccination. I have also always kept a flock of mixed vaccinated hybrids and unvaccinated purebreds, with no problems at all. Yes, you need sensible management and knowhow, but all this is easily available nowadays on the Internet or on forums like this one, not like when I first started. The most important thing is to get quality stock to start with, so you don't import infections which may stay in your flock for years. Vaccination is the best way to prevent these ever getting a hold. Then, with sensible management, good housing, correct feeding, cleanliness and preventative medicine such as regular worming, your chickens should stay healthy and productive for years on end.
If you go to Poutrykeeper (link at the bottom of this page) and put Vaccination into the Search box, there are several articles about various common diseases that can be vaccinated against.
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BabyBantam
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by BabyBantam » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:25 pm

I live in a rural location where foxes are numerous so we're unable to get rid of them. Until we moved in, foxes used our lawn for sunbathing regularly.
We have a dog and also electric fencing around the run. The foxes soon learned that it wasn't a good place to be and we only get occasional visits now, even though foxes still visit both neighbours gardens regularly to dig up lawns etc.
I would advise you set up electric fencing and (if you have a dog) encourage it to mark the territory now. this means foxes visiting will get zapped before the chickens arrive and should discourage them from getting nosey once the girls arrive.
No guarantees though :)
mzaslan
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by mzaslan » Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:33 pm

Hi All thanks so much for everyones help. I was feeling lonely on this project but not now!!
After everyones comments and reading the foxes-poultry link I think my chicks should will be ok in a super secure coop/run and with an electric fence surrounding it. Nice idea Babybantam of turning on the fence a little while before the birds come - worth a shot. I dont have a dog but perhaps this was the excuse I was looking for to be able to pee in the garden!
I dont think I will be able to let the chickens out of the run so I'll make it suitabley large. So 2 square metes per bird is good. The following link shows a coop which is about 0.8 square meters and a run 1.04 square meters and claims its good for 5 to 6 medium sized chickens: http://www.chickencoopsdirect.com/chicken-house-run.htm. I'll base my design on something like this but with a solid roof and use Marigolds bird/area ratio.

As for the choice of bird, I've not got to that stage yet! Didnt want to get excited if it turned out it wasn't feasable for me to keep them. But its looking better the more I look into it. So a good way to go would be:
1) POL pullets
2) Fully vacinated
3) Check condition of suppliers premises


Some further condsiderations of mine would be:

a) Sturdy (not sure if thats the right word but i mean ones that aren't likey to get ill)
b) Good egg laying skills
c) Friendly - I'd love my kids (3 and 7) to bond with the birds, hold and play with them. Ar esome breeds more domestciated than others or is it about how much love/time you give them?

Any recommendations for a bird that fits the above? Also, as I mention i would love my kids to love the birds and I think it may help if the birds were as young as possible. would it be reasonable to get a pullet before POL so the kids can watch them grow? How young can pullet be for you to keep it in the garden with the same about of attention as a older pullet?

Thanks for everyones help I'm off to order:
A Family Guide To Keeping Chickens: How to choose and care for your first chickens by Anne Perdeaux
and
Chicken Manual: The Complete Step-by-step Guide to Keeping Chickens by Laurence Beeken
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chrismahon
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by chrismahon » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:09 pm

It's common for coop suppliers to exaggerate the capacity of their coops Mzasian. We have coops with a floor area of 1m2 and they will take 3 Orpingtons or 4 standard large fowl. I would not put more than 4 hybrids (which are usually smaller than Pedigrees) in a 0.8m2 coop. Hybrids can be rather flighty and nervous. It is down to luck to some extent, because we've had some lovely ones which didn't mind being handled -but playing with them will never happen and attempts may see them frightened off. Feathers are delicate and easily damaged so need care. You might give consideration to ex-batts as they can be very friendly I'm told.

If you can't ever let them out I would aim for 4m2 per bird and the more the better. Our runs (which have perches) all give over 1m2, but they are only in them in the first half of the morning, then they go into enclosures giving them over 15m2 per bird.

I can't recommend any hybrid types. We switched to all Pedigrees years ago because they live a lot longer (about 5 years instead of 2). They still lay as many eggs in their lifetime generally, but not over Winter, except in their first year.
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Marigold
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by Marigold » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:46 pm

My top recommendation for hybrids has to be Columbian Blacktails. They're quite small birds but lay surprisingly large eggs, and the ones I've had all kept going for longer than most hybrids. My little Ginger is now more than three years old, has never gone broody or even taken time off to moult, and is still producing large eggs regularly. CBs are little golden brown birds with, as you would expect, perky little black tail feathers sticking up behind in a jaunty way.
There are lots of different varieties of hybrids, all bred for good egg production, and each breed has its own colour, size and shape of egg, so you can tell which girl has laid that day if you keep a mixture. Currently, mine are giving me a deep brown egg, a blue egg., a greeny blue egg, a white egg and occasionally paper white egg from my oldest bird, Marigold, a 5-year-old Sussex (see my avatar.) if you want calm and gentle hens, go for hybrids originally bred for commercial farms where they would be kept closely confined or in cages, where they need to be non-aggressive, such as Warrens or ISA Browns. Avoid leghorn hybrids, beautiful birds who lay lovely white eggs, but the leghorn part is very flighty. It's quite rare for any kind of hybrid to go broody, this has been bred out of them because Broodiness disturbs egg production so not an advantage in a commercial bird. Purebreds do take time out to go broody, which can be a pain. But the main thing is to get healthy stock to start with, rather than to stick out for a particular breed, until you have a bit more experience about what sort of bird you like best. Here again, getting a mixture of breeds will teach you more than getting a 'matching set'!
Yes, hens do get tame if talked to gently, never chased, and enticed by treats to come to you to peck from your hand, though they won't be like this to start with. Occasionally you may get one or two who seem resigned to being picked up, but they don't really like being cuddled, in the whole, being a prey species, and so are not really cuddly pets. Small children need to be taught to respect them, to stroke them gently, and shouldn't try to pick them ip until they're old enough to be taught the correct way to do this -by holding the feet and restraining the wings with the other arm, not by putting hands over the wings. If incorrectly picked up, hens panic and scratch, which is painful and there's great risk of infection from their dirty feet. But children love collecting eggs, feeding treats to the hens, and helping with the everyday tasks such as feeding and cleaning drinkers etc.
My 6 hens live in a 12 sq. metre run, and seem to have plenty of space. I'm not too keen on the design of the coop in your link -it looks quite fussy to me, with too many places where redmite would breed, and I can't see adequate ventilation either. I know you're well able to build your own, but I wondered if you'd considered buying a plastic coop instead? Have a look at Green Frog Medium Lodges in this link.

http://www.greenfrogdesigns.co.uk/poultry-housing-1/
I've got one of these, never had redmite, easy to clean, comfortable and big enough for 6medium hybrids, very sensible design, never needs creosoting, doesn't deteriorate, keeps its resale value and can be disassembled and flat packed if you move house or want to sell it. Probably not a lot more costly than buying quality materials to build your own in wood.
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BabyBantam
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by BabyBantam » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:19 pm

I agree with Marigold, the less fussy a coop the better as anything with lots of cracks and crevices or a felt roof over hard board are a haven for mite. I have a woodern ark that is now sold by omelet https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/chicken_ke ... cken_coop/ with a home made run to double the size for four pekins. Had it for 5 years and not had red mite either, but I dust it regularly with diatom and gave it a good dose before the chooks moved into it. I love the green frog designs and would go with marigolds option if I had to start again. The ease of cleaning and practicality is a godsend if you keep chooks for more than a few years.
I can't recommend a laying breed as I only keep pekins which are no good for anything other than loving loads and arguing with when they go broody :) , but would recommend you take time to choose a breeder to buy from. Carefully watch the stock for a length of time on more than one occasion if possible for any signs of sneezing or snicking, hunching birds hiding in corners or bad hygiene. Even when a breeder states that their birds are vaccinated, does not guarentee against disease as I found out to my cost (and loss of birds) when I started out. Recommendations should be heeded and I would say go for POL as a starter as younger birds need a lot of care and have less disease resistance than older birds. Maybe set up for 6 to 8 birds and only buy four, giving you a chance to expand your flock (in multiples of two or more) down the line. This also gives you the chance to choose a different breed if you decide you like something else.
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Re: Will the fox outside my chicken run traumatise the chick

Post by valeriebutterley » Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:31 am

Hello Mszlan,
interesting debate going on here on this subject.
I have a large urban back garden and have lived in this house for about 40 years now. Foxes lived in the garden until I finally managed to get rid of them by clearing rhododendrons, laurels and other space filling growths and expose their hole and tunnels. They moved in somewhere very near and still regard my garden as totally their territory, and so are here all the time. I have lost two flocks in the recent past to their persistence.
I initially deterred them with a product based on creosote, soaked in rags or tissue and shoved far down the holes, they just hate the smell apparently, and I do not have a man around to pee for me, another smell apparently that deters foxes.
When my first massacre took place I went to SCATS and asked where they now kept the stuff and was told that they were not allowed to sell it anymore as it was dangerous to wild life!!! - HONESTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Writing this I've decided to Google and try again to see if I can locate it.
When my girls sense the fox or see him, they are all on their toes "bok, bok, bokking" at the top of their voices, so I know he is around, and I go out
mostly to calm the hens but also scream like a banshee, arms waving and running at him.
The other issue, good layers, you cannot get better than a utility Leghorn, mine are white, but they do seem to have a bad press re. being skittish, but depends on how you treat them as to whether they calm down or not. Mine have, and I have had them out of sheer nosiness come and perch on the side of the hut by my shoulder when I am collecting eggs just to see what is going on, it is a chance to take the intimacy further and cuddle, but I never push my luck with these beautiful birds, I don't want the eggs to stop. The three I have now are my third lot, and "an egg a day" is their motto some of their eggs are huge.
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