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When my wife and I moved to the farm in august 2013, we arrived with 13 hens. The hens were a little over a year and a half old. Those 13 hens were laying around 9 – 10 eggs a day.

With that 9 – 10 eggs a day I tried to estimate how many chickens and eggs my family would need during a long term SHTF situation. In a previous article we got an estimated number of around 75 chickens or so to satisfy our egg and chicken meat production needs.

In the past 3 months something happened that has thrown a serious kink into my chicken flock plans.

Out of the original 13 hens, only 8 remain.

Out of the 24 chicks my wife and I bought in February 2014, only about 12 remain.

In other words, we have lost about 1/2 of our flock in the past few months.

A fox appears

Sunday evening (May 11, 2014) I saw what was getting some of my chickens. On that evening, as is my typical routine, I walked out to the chicken yard to close up the chicken house.

Guess what was standing behind the chicken yard? A large red fox.

Between the fox and the chickens was an 8 foot wide gate that is usually open when the chickens are free ranging, If that gate had been opened like it usually has been, that fox would have had easy access to the chicken yard and my chickens.

I saw the fox and it saw me. I stopped dead in my tracks while it turned tail and ran. I went back to the house and got my trusty Ruger 10/22 rifle. I told my wife there was a fox behind the chicken yard. She grabbed her camera and went with me. As I was easing towards where the fox had ran to, I heard it on the other side of the creek that runs next to the chicken house.

It was too late in the evening to go tracking that fox across to creek. The chickens were closed up in their house safe and sound. The chicken yard was also closed and the chickens will not be allowed to free range until the fox is dealt with.

Here in Texas even though the fox is considered a fur bearing animal, I can still use lethal force to protect my property. I just can not keep any part of the fox, not even the tail.

Chickens and puppies

A couple of days a week the chickens are kept in their yard while the puppies are loose during the day.

The other days the puppies go on their chain during the day, the chickens free range, then the puppies are let off the chain at night when the chickens go up.

This way the puppies and the chickens get equal time roaming free.

The problem, if the dogs are not killing the chickens, something else is.

With the chickens in their yard the dogs are running free and can chase off a fox or coyote.

The puppies I rescued off the side of the road I know for a fact have killed 3 of my chickens. My wife and I saw the puppies playing with the chickens so they were caught red handed. Now that I know for a fact there is a fox in the area and it was spying my chickens, I think it is best to leave the chickens in their yard and let the dogs run free.

When the dogs killed the chickens it was not intentional. It was more like the puppies were playing with the chicken and feathers out. During the process of pulling the feathers, the dogs grabbed too much meat and killed the chicken.

The fox on the other hand, it wants to kill and eat the chickens.

The rooster crows

After my wife and I got moved to the farm, she made it very clear she wanted some Buff Orpington hens and a rooster. Her wish is my command. She got 6 hens and a rooster. Thank goodness the rooster is not one of the chicks that went missing.

Monday morning when I let the chickens out of their house the rooster crowed for the first time. The crow was rough and sounded weak. He will get stronger and louder as time goes on.

I am not looking forward to the crowing, but I am looking forward to having a supply of new chicks every few months.

To go along with the Buff Orpington we also have an Australorp rooster. The Australorp is only about 2 and a 1/2 months old, so it is a lot smaller than the Buff Orpington rooster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Maybe do some research on a predator calls, you might be abel to lure him in for a shot
Ever since my wife and I moved here we have been dumping the cracked eggs, and other scraps we do not give to the chickens about 150 yards behind the house.

We always dump the scarps in same exact place, and in view of my deer stand. My wife and I are going to start putting some tuna, scraps and dog food in that spot over this next week.

I think this weekend is supposed to be a full moon. I do not have a night scope, but my deer rifle has a 50mm lens and it collects a lot of light.

From the deer stand to the dump spot is about 75 yards.
 

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Maybe do some research on a predator calls, you might be abel to lure him in for a shot
He just needs to sound like his chickens.

Now, as goofy as it may sound, try to place a small home made puddle near your scrap pile. Keep it filled with water. A large indent in the soil, deep of course, piece of waterproof tarp as a liner. This will give him two things he needs. The scraps and water. Fox are smart animals, but just as lazy, he'll see two opportunities in one spot.
 

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True story. The foxes avoid my hens like the plague. I wonder if it has anything to do with all the **** and possum pieces lying around?
 
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woo pig sooie
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Kev,
This may not work at all, but have you tried any human hair scattered around the perimeter of your free range yard. We had a problem with an elusive fox down here in south east arkansas. (I never could get a decent shot with the .270) Grandpa went down to the barber and got all the left over hair and put it out all around the chicken yard. Never saw the fox again. ( Which is a shame, because I was itching to shoot my .270 after all)
 

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I sympathize with you I have some free ranging chickens as well and I have a raven every once in a while stealing eggs .I hear and see him swop down and I rush out to shot the bugger and he's gone.
I have hawks and owls here as well and my dogs run the yard at the same time but attacks from above are heard to defend.
I had thought my Queensland healer had been chasing one of the hens and injured her , she died eventually , but it would have been the first time in 5 years that dog would have done this .
I scolded her , but I had no solid evidence she had done any thing . Then lately this raven is showing up in the day so I'm wondering if it was that critter.
I did not clip the wings on my birds ,figuring that it is their only defense, and the rooster is not making a difference in security .
Though the eggs are fertilized, the hens do not sit on the eggs, so they remain dormant.
I may have to build a hatchery if I want chicks . More mouths to feed.
 

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The saying goes = don't count your chickens till they hatch. It should be don't count your chickens at all - they die often. More than one rooster = trouble.

Ideally you train your dog not to kill chickens so can let them both out but in practise very hard. I assumed my small terrier would never be able to be with chooks so kept the chooks locked up - one day a chook got out and dog didn't kill it. So now they run together however she will kill chicks and fights with roosters (no blood yet just feathers). Roosters will go for eyes - yours and dogs. Lots of predators here for chooks, fox/dog, python/goanna/snakes?, hawks/eagle.
 

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We started with 14 Rhode Island Red layers last spring. 2 ended up being roosters, so we ate one. One hen had a bad leg and we put her down. One got sick over the winter and would not recover.

Haven't lost any to predators yet, but they stay inside the fenced area and there are plenty of dogs around.

Compost pile sits outside the fence about 150 feet from them, and anything that I have seen in broad daylight is eating off the pile. I don't mind a couple cats here and there if they pay no mind to the birds, but any stalking near the fence or flanking the bird pen and they're scheduled for a dirt nap.

The neighbors and I have a confederacy against feral cats especially. Its a 10/22 club.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Any luck on baiting him in yet?
Not yet.

Because of all of the *****, my dogs, cat, stray cat, opossums,,, I do not want to put any traps out.

In the evening after work the dogs and I have been making daily rounds down to the creek and around the chicken yard.

The back of the chicken yard backs up to a treeline. Both the tree line and the chicken yard run parallel with a creek. The creek is maybe 25 feet wide and say 4 - 6 inches deep, depending on how much rain we have had.

Yesterday I want into the treeline and peed on a few oak trees. I dont know if that will help. The dogs were with me, so their sent got laid down also.

This evening I am thinking about walking the edge of the creek behind the chicken yard with the dogs. Just something to keep fresh scent out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Your post has displayed the difference between planning for a homestead and actually living it. Things don't always go the way we planned or thought they would go and you are finding out first hand. It's better to learn these things now rather then later!
Very true.

I did not plan on getting any dogs. In fact, I did not want dogs as I knew they would kill my chickens.

Then I saw some puppies someone dropped off on the side of the road. Being soft hearted I picked them up.

Sure enough they killed some of my chickens.

But, the puppies are growing into dogs which will keep other predators away.

The dead and missing chicken issue is made a little easier when the puppies kill 3 chickens, but the foxes and chicken hawks kill 8.

Having the puppies is the lesser of the two evils. They also let me know when something strange comes around the yard. A week ago or so they woke me up at 2 am barking at something towards the creek. I figure it was that same fox working its way towards the chicken house.
 
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