counting our chickens

I love our chooks. They mosey around the chook yard and free range through the garden. They lay lots of eggs, enough for us to give a couple of dozen away every week. Perfect. 



But we have a fox in the area. 

I feel very conflicted about the fox. As an animal, I like them. They're smart, right? And who didn't feel differently about foxes after reading Fantastic Mr Fox as a kid? He's just feeding his family! 'Cept this one is taking our chooks. Well, one. One of mine, in the middle of the day, and one of my neighbor's roosters, in the bright afternoon. Naughty fox. 

They had two of these gorgeous things: I called them both Casanova. They both flew into our (enclosed) chook yard to visit our girls every morning. 

Now there's only one Casanova.


There's also an Imposter:

I don't love the neighbor's turkey so much. He's entirely decorative, not for eating or anything. Which is a shame because he's eating an awful lot of my chicken feed. 

Then on Saturday we came out our front door to find this: one of the neighbor's chickens who had been missing, assumed snatched by the fox:


Are they CHICKENS?!

THREE chickens?! And an egg?

Actually four, and we still don't know how the egg got out there. We hunted around and found her nest behind all the ferns and the agapanthus by our hot water system. 

There was one more chick in the nest with his head a bit stuck in an egg. We gently retrieved him and Adam carried him around for a while to warm him up and he revived well (he's much perkier than this today.)

The others braced through a small amount of little people handling before our neighbours came home and we alerted them to the discovery of the not-killed-by-the-fox hen.



Adam and our friend Kevin shipped the mother and chicks next door to their new home and they are doing well! There's plans for a new hen house. 



We bought our flock at point of lay. I missed the tiny weeny chick stage. 

We might have to get some more chickens, I think. 

And maybe they don't need to be free range. The pen is really pretty large. I can't bear the thought of those wee chicks being foxy's lunch. Eek. 

Any ideas? We always had farm dogs when I was a kid and I don't think we lost many chooks. A dog? I wonder what foxes are afraid of? Midnight is not too late to begin a Google adventure, right?


11 Comments on “counting our chickens

Alex Nolan
May 17, 2011 at 1:15 am

You are right, foxes don’t like dogs. Get a dog and your chickens should be safe as houses.

On the topic of chicks, we bought our chickens as battery rescue hens. Ours have never gone broody but Maggie, our next door neighbour, has bantams which go broody at the drop of a hat! Our hens are with a cockerel and so all our eggs are fertile and we have had a good success rate of breeding them. We stick our fertile eggs under next door’s broody hens and ba-boom, 21 days later we have chicks!

You go for it – the only thing about point-of-lay hens is that they are ready and you don’t need to feed and look after chicks that aren’t actually giving you anything back. That said, I love the whole egg/broody hen/chick process, as do the boys, so I’d do it that way round any day!

Enjoy xx

May 17, 2011 at 4:07 am

OK, I know you won’t have any idea who I am, b/c I’ve never commented before. But I have lurked happily around your blog, which I love for very many reasons (only one of which is your medieval recipes–and the fact [oh, this is two, huh?] that you haven’t got that PhD done b/c you’re home with kids *ahem* like me).

But we do have chickens, and foxes, and coyotes, and owls. I think your best bet is, in fact, a dog. The advice I have gotten is that you need to choose a herding-type breed/mix for it to be really excited by keeping an eye on the livestock. We have a lovely and kind yellow lab, who spends a lot of time trying to EAT the chickens, which is not what you want.

Our friends have a border collie who loves, loves, loves to stomp around the perimeter of the property warding off interlopers, and barreling out of the house at midnight to chase off foxes and coyotes.

I, too, am sentimental about foxes, having been infected by Beatrix Potter’s fox, who in fact was evil but also amazingly dapper and smooth.

kristin (from Oregon State)

May 17, 2011 at 5:19 am

aww one of my good friends just got chicks and i love them!
they are so personable and sweet!

good luck on the fox!
i love them too, but they’re rascals!

Darren (Green Change)
May 17, 2011 at 8:35 am

We lost 3 young pullets and a rooster to a fox just last week. He came in the middle of the night and dug underneath the chicken coop fence (and through the buried chicken wire!). Luckily our muscovy drakes and the rooster fought him off. One drake was injured but looks to be recovering well, and the rooster went with the fox.

I enjoyed all those fox books, and my kids like the Fantastic Mr Fox movie, but sentiment isn’t going to save this guy if he comes back!

We’re planning to get a dog sometime soon as well – maybe a kelpie or border collie, or perhaps even a maremma if I can find one. Besides the utility/security factor, I think a good dog does wonders for the kids.

May 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Ah, Darren beat me to it and mentioned the Maremma. They’re using them down in Port Philip Bay in Victoria to protect the fairy penguins from foxes. A neighbour of mine has a Maremma and she’s a lovely dog 🙂
One of my earliest childhood memories is of waking up in the middle of the night to find my mum in the kitchen cleaning up injured chicks and a few chooks who’d been savaged by a stoat who had broken into the chook house (and taken a few chicks). Hopefully Australia has evaded an invasion of that species!?

May 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Seems we both have chickens on our mind at the moment 🙂

We welcomed three little chickens into our flock this week. I’m certain we’ll have a rooster or two in amongst them (thankfully the seller takes back any unwanted roosters), but I think the gamble is worth it.

Our dog doesn’t need to keep away foxes, but he does a great job of keeping away our neighbors cats.

I wonder what sort of dog you’ll get? x t

International Woman of Mystery
May 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Err, if that Casanova spends much more time with your hens you won’t have to umm and ahh about the little chicks. xo

May 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I’d never thought about all our eggs being fertile thanks to Casanova?! Don’t chickens have cycles? *cue diving into ‘keeping chickens’ by Ashley English* xx

May 17, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Oh barreling border collie, dog of my heart!! Nice to meet you Kirsten xx

May 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm

What the heck is a Maremma? Googling now. Also Stoat. Rhymes with goat. Suspect unrelated. xx

play vob files
December 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

It is Saturday morning here, and i have just been enjoying your beautiful photos with my family over breakfast. What a lovely start to the weeken


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