We’ve been having fox troubles recently.It started nine days ago when a fox killed two of our chickens, scared most of the others into neighboring yards and had one hen in his mouth when Chris saw him and scared him off. That hen, thankfully, lost a bunch of feathers but nothing more serious. Since then he has returned several times, usually between 3:30-5:30 in the afternoon, and killed a total of 7 hens. We had 14 hens before this started, we are down to 7 hens and only three of them are old enough to lay eggs. The others were just hatched this spring so they won’t start laying till fall or possibly next spring.
We have set out traps, scattered human hair (thanks to our neighbor who is a hair dresser) and urine around the fence line, and put up electric fencing around the coop but nothing seems to deter this guy. I now spend every afternoon on fox guard, working in the garden and patrolling the yard, carrying a gun and listening for disturbances. This has kept the fox away all week. Until this morning. I guess he has figured out that his afternoon dining appointment won’t work anymore and so he is changing things up.
The fox came back again today (for the 4th time? 5th? I’ve lost count) and this time he grabbed our beautiful rooster, Earnest. He dragged him by the neck all the way across our yard and into the neighbors yard where they, thankfully, saw what was happening and scared the fox off and called us. When I went to retrieve him he was laying in a heap and I thought the worst, but when I tried to pick him up he pecked at me and tried to run away. I was able to corner him and carry him home, but he struggled against me which I took as a good sign (we almost never pick him up normally, so he doesn’t like it). When I got him home and looked him over I saw that he had been bitten on the back but it didn’t look serious. The real damage was to his neck. Chicken necks feel weird and floppy to me even when normal so its difficult to tell what exactly is wrong. Though he CAN lift it up into a normal position he is keeping it held very low and droopy. Very abnormal for a rooster. Clearly the fox must have dragged him by the neck and done some damage. I don’t think anything is broken because 1) he isn’t dead and 2) he can move his neck. I’m not sure if damage to the tissue like this can heal or what else may be damaged that I can’t see. Right now he is hanging out on the porch where I can keep an eye on him.
He is eating (I gave him some of the chick feed which the adults think is super tasty) and perks up when he hears his ladies clucking. Right now I can’t think of anything else to do for him. I’m trying not to mess with him because I don’t want to add to his stress levels. Mostly he is laying down, resting, but he does stand up if I come closer or if the hens come over.
The few remaining hens in his flock (the 3 layers) don’t seem to know what to do without him. A hawk flew into the yard this afternoon and they started squawking and running around like, well, like chickens with their heads cut off! Normally Earnest makes them hide in the bushes or under the coop when a hawk is in the area. I don’t know what they will do without him!