We are gradually recovering from our chicken loss, and are getting ready for battle. The day after the attacks, I spotted a fox crossing the property, stopping to take a drink from the pond. I read up on it and found that foxes will kill multiple chickens and drag them off to a hiding place to eat later. They also eat the chickens whole – bones and all. Raccoons tend to bite off the heads, and dogs just kill for fun and then leave because they are usually well fed. It would be challenging for a larger animal to squeeze under the pasture gate, but a fox could get through any opening that fits a chicken.
It began to dawn on me that the reason we kept finding more bodies covered in straw in the chicken run and the goat pen is that the fox had purposely hidden them to come back and fetch them later. Many dog owners have observed the humor of their pets scraping the carpet with their noses in an effort to bury their little chewy treats. I can imagine the fox doing this with my chickens, but the humor in it is lost on me now.
Yesterday afternoon when I went out to check on everyone, I found more feathers out in the goat shed. I am absolutely certain I’d cleaned it out after the massacre, but there was a chicken buried in the remaining straw, in several pieces. This was the one adult I wasn’t sure I’d found yet. I think the fox must have hidden the body somewhere and then taken it back into the goat shed to eat and hide again for later. It feels like a taunt and I am taking the bait.
I buried the remains of this last bird and double-checked that the goat shed was clearly cleaned out. This morning, another pile of feathers were in there. Grrrr. All the remaining chickens are still safe and sound, locked into their Fort Knox fenced area.
So, we have some new strategies. First, the flock is no longer free to leave their run to wander during the day. I’m not happy about that, but I have to keep them safe. Next, I have found a local chicken owner who has too many chicks that are just about ready to begin laying and she wants to reduce her numbers. They are “Leghorns” and lay plain old white eggs, but it seems like they’d fit into the flock well. We may resume collecting eggs sooner rather than later.
The last strategy is WAR. We bought a large live trap yesterday and watched videos on how to catch a fox. We bought a piece of gas station fried chicken, apparently the most delectable fox delight, and will be hanging it from the inside of the trap. If we are able to catch the varmint, we’ll call Animal Control to do with it what they will. Wish me luck.