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Author Topic: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((  (Read 4529 times)

StephB

  • Joined Feb 2010
Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« on: January 20, 2015, 05:36:54 pm »
Hi all


I have finally been beaten by a fox.


We have been living on our smallholding for four years now, and even though we have had the odd loses to a Fox its never been this bad.


We have slowly but surely lost all our ducks and hens and with our last three geese, even one of those got attacked yesterday.


I have bought the geese into the barn, mostly for the shocked and injured one to hopefully recover with her mates. 


We have a 1/2 acre Fruit Orchard and all our birds have been happily free ranging in there for the last four years without too much danger, but this latest fox is really cunning and even after quite abit of sitting out with the gun, hubby hasn't managed to kill it.


We have electrified chicken netting all around the perimeter but obviously only about 4 feet high so no trouble for Mr fox to jump over.


Do I just give up on the free-ranging idealistic life for my birds and get a miserable run made up for them?
Such a shame.


Have any of you out there successfully deterred a fox from a large area?. 


Not sure what to do now really?.


Sorry for the rant, just sad that the sigh of free ranging birds in my orchard is probably a thing of the past now.  >:(
Living on a 6 acre smallholding in Dorset.
Jersey cow, Aberdeen Angus cattle, small flock of Poll Dorset x sheep, Occasional weaner pigs, Geese, ducks and hens.
Polytunnel / Veg plot.
Voss Electric Fence

hafod

  • Joined Jan 2013
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2015, 07:51:54 pm »
Poor you - it's so difficult to know what to do for the best. Even if your hubby does shoot the fox there's nothing to say another won't quickly move into the area. I free range but many of my friends have big runs for their birds, the birds seem really happy and lots of different areas to scratch graze etc. I guess if you have to have a run - make it as big as possible. :hug:

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2015, 09:58:22 pm »
Been here 8 years and so far not lost any poultry to the fox - we use mains powered electric netting, but in smaller areas (the netting is 50 m long) and move it regularly.

BUT - we have lost two batches of hens to the resident stoat/weasel - one of them while shut into their house at night, no idea how the stoat got in...

I don't think you can guard against everything, and poultry is lost at some time or other. Smaller runs, moved regularly and also having a dog (ours is a wire-haired foxterrier bitch) marking his territory all over your land is helpful.

HesterF

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2015, 10:07:50 pm »
Our big run is 70m x 40m so 2800m2. It encloses a baby orchard, veg patch (ha - badger can't get to my sweetcorn) as well as space for chickens, ducks & geese. It cost a small fortune but I reckon I've got expensive stock in there too - I've drive all over the country getting the best breeding stock so it's not just money, it's time and effort too. The fox has been in at night so we had to improve the overhang but without this, I'm sure we'd have been through the same as you. A successful fox attack is very rarely going to be a one-off so it's good to have a back up if the free ranging is not safe. I do let some of the chickens out to completely free range if I'm outside but mostly the layers who are in a smaller pen (160m2) and aren't quite so valuable.

My MIL has had her chickens free ranging for years without a fox loss so it can be done - but it depends on your local fox population and you have to be realistic that if you've got a clever fox, you need to find some way of protecting your remaining birds  :-[. We know we have active foxes and we've seen them in the field next to us during the day - as well as having had dogs running through the garden - so we have to do what we can to balance the needs of the poultry with their safety.

Good luck - hope your injured goose recovers and you find a way to keep them safe. Hard to find a short term solution because pens take a while to build.

H

MarthaR

  • Joined Sep 2013
  • Near Abergavenny, South Wales
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2015, 10:36:19 pm »
So sorry to hear about your losses StephB. I had a similar quandary as I live offsite from my little smallholding so built a large run for my layers, properly. It is sort of a 'fruit cage' model with metal struts and then netting over the top and sides with chicken wire dug well into the perimeter ground. It wasn't mega cheap but didn't take very long to do and I was cautious not knowing what the local fox population was. Whenever I am at the holding, the chickens come out and range around the whole large area. So in Summer when the days are longer they are out for most of the time, but even in depths of winter and at weekends they're out and about for a number of hours when I or anyone else is there feeding other animals and doing general work. I coax them back into the run if I need to leave during the day with a small amount of corn / mealworms. And then lock them away in the coop inside the run at night. They seem pretty contented and healthy. So far...so good. But maybe I am just lucky. And appreciate the challenge is different with geese and ducks.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2015, 12:20:31 am »
StephB - are your hens free ranging 24 hours a day or are they shut in a coop or house at night?

When we were losing hens 'slowly but surely' as you did, it was the ones who refused to go to bed at night and roosted in a lean-to.  They would be out and about earlier than we let out the hens sleeping in their house, so were picked off at dawn.  However, we are fairly sure it was a family of stoats taking them.  We have also had a mega daytime fox attack, with dead bodies strewn everywhere.  Our hens are shut in at night but free range over about 3 or 4 acres in the day.

If you put deer fencing stobs at intervals along your fence you can attach a second stretch of mesh above the first, which will be better at keeping the hunters out. An electric wire at fox height on the outside of the enclosure should help.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

cloddopper

  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2015, 12:33:54 am »
Steph , the foxes whelped early this year , there are lots of new mouths to feed ,this cold snap has made the dog 7 vixens even baver than normal .

I suggest that you start baiting an area of one square foot where you hubby can shoot at & hit from under cover about an hour after dusk .. use 1/2 a can of canned dog food and take it i=up every time a few hours later if you can leave a dim light on so you can see the feed station ( on a white board helps ) .. you'll soon find a hungry fox will start taking the food at the set times. After about five successful takes and with the wind blowing on to your hide  from the direction of the bait  put the feed out and go into the hide with a loaded shottie & wait for the fox . If you get one , repeat the exercise for the next couple of nights for like as not you will get more than one fox.



Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting

ZacB

  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Suffolk
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2015, 06:51:51 am »
Can you see the runs? If so snare and then humane dispatch. Quite brutal and I never thought I would ever use this type of method but we had a similar situation to yours a number of years back. Where are you? Speak to local stalkers / shooting people.
Good luck, regards Zac

Stereo

  • Joined Aug 2012
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2015, 08:04:35 am »
It's a tricky one. We've lost a pen to the fox late last year despite an electric net. We regularly lose eggs to crows / magpies which I find scattered about the fields later. We have a rat issue now although that is being dealt with and treddle feeders seem to be preventing them getting at the feed (have seen 2 rats on the treddle at night and it stayed shut).

Trying to solve these issues leads you down the road to more confinement, pens with roofs to keep the crows out. Then it all becomes harder to move and you've got issues with mud in the winter and worms etc. I can well see why folks end up with lots of small pens. My problem is that I have a lot of rare breeds so they need to be separate. I could spend out and fox proof the entire 2 acre field and keep the nets moving but it's very steep which makes it hard to shift houses at the same time.

At the moment I seem to spend far too much time trying to work out what the best solution would be to solve most of the predation issues while still giving the hens a good standard of living and plenty of space. Having mostly steep land doesn't help.

StephB

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2015, 02:31:24 pm »
Thanks for all your replies.

Hubby ended up having to dispatch our injured goose this morning  :gloomy: .  I have been syringe feeding her liquid goose pellets since Tuesday but her neck was well and truly broken and no signs of improvement, also had a chat to our vets who agreed that if she hadn't improved by the weekend then there wasn't much hope.

The last two remaining geese are bedded down in the back of our barn.  When i am home during the day I let them out for some fresh air, but put them back before I go out or at the latest 2pm as the local fox always seems to attack around the 3pm time.

I always diligently put the birds away before dark but I can't compete with these daytime brave foxes :furious: .


Hubby keeps going out every afternoon to try and stalk the fox, we also have a humane fox trap set up with meat but its too clever for that.


We have tried snares before with no success, but might be worth giving them another try.


We have got abit of a ramshackled run set up that's about 30ft x 10ft which I might try to resurrect when i get some more laying hens.  Geese aren't really creatures to be penned up though, so will continue with the routine i am currently doing until this current fox has been dispatched.


We have been here four years and never had such a ruthless fox, hoping once this one is dealt with the next fox might not be quite so evil.


Thanks so much for all your help and suggestions, i will get hubby to read them to hopefully give him some stalking and pen making ideas.


xxxx





Living on a 6 acre smallholding in Dorset.
Jersey cow, Aberdeen Angus cattle, small flock of Poll Dorset x sheep, Occasional weaner pigs, Geese, ducks and hens.
Polytunnel / Veg plot.

HesterF

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2015, 06:51:51 pm »
My hubby saw a fox in our garden today in the middle of the day, right up close to the house and it then went to stroll through the veggie garden. Fortunately the chickens were all in their pen. Shows it's that time of year.....

harry

  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2015, 05:57:02 pm »
its not difficult ..... how many people dont know how to install a poultry electric fence..... do it properly and you have no problem........ INSTALL ONE OR better TWO ELECTRIC TRIPS WIRES about one and two feet away from the fence about 9" off the ground, if a fox cant get near the fence it cant dig or jump it ...SIMPLE

ballingall

  • Joined Sep 2008
  • Avonbridge, Falkirk
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2015, 06:07:11 pm »
Harry, I am sure you mean well, but I feel your post is somewhat insulting to the OP, implying they don't know how to install an electric fence.


In any case, electric fencing is not necessarily for everyone. I don't use electric fencing at all.


Beth

Kitchen Cottage

  • Joined Oct 2012
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2015, 09:28:16 am »
Last year we lamped the main fox and the vixen and cubs next door.... since then we were free but not two immature foxes are moving into the area.... these will be baited and caught or lamped...... I have to confess that of the 4 chicks associated with Mr Fox... only two were actually him.... the others were my blind dog Luca... Mr fox was a handy scapegoat...More time with the shotgun seems in order!

polaris

  • Joined Mar 2014
Re: Losing my rose coloured spectacles because of a Fox :-((
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2015, 02:24:34 pm »


We had a similar thing a few years back, steadily lost our entire flock, it was odd as for the six years previous, no problems, then three years we couldn't keep a bird out, and now we have been fine again for the last two years. What made the difference?? The death of our first Jack Russell, and the introduction of our new one, almost to the day. It's the only thing that's changed, she regularly patrols the garden and follows the flock now and then marking as she goes, not another fuzzy nose to be seen and everything is quiet. She free ranges on good days, same as the birds  :thumbsup:

Edit to add: sounds horrid but if you've got the gooses carcass lay it out as bait for fox and get hubby set up and ready, they can't resist the real thing. I'm also a big fan of the dog food idea, we've used that for a pine Martin that moved in. The local traffic eventually got him though.

We live in very very foxy territory, local stackers are up to their ears in them :) the Father in Law is an Estate Manager, so we get kept up to date with the local fox populations :)
« Last Edit: January 28, 2015, 02:33:07 pm by polaris »

 

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