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Why Do Foxes Kill Chickens and Leave Them?

Why Do Foxes Kill Chickens and Leave Them?

Foxes are such beautiful and clever creatures, but that doesn’t mean they sometimes don’t cause us problems. One example of this is when a fox breaks into your chicken coop and kills several chickens in one night, only to leave them there untouched.

This perplexing behavior can be quite frustrating, especially since we may not understand why the fox would do something like this and waste lives so carelessly.

But let’s talk about why this happens and what you can do to prevent it from happening in your coop.

Why Do Foxes Kill Chickens and Then Leave Them?

Usually, the fox will take away the chickens it has killed while searching for a safer eating spot where it can finish off its meal without worrying about possible danger from other predators or humans.

When the fox found the flock, it selected one or two (depending on its hunger) to take away with it before departing. If you find some chickens dead but otherwise left intact, you can blame a fox with utmost certainty.

Foxes don’t know if the chickens will always be in their coop and so easy to access. Because of this, they will kill several with the intention of coming back later to bury them or drag them away and eating again.

How to Protect Chickens From Foxes

Protecting chickens from predators like foxes is an important part of owning poultry. Luckily, there are a few steps that can be taken to lessen the risk of fox predation.

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Create Better Fences

Securing the chicken coop and yard with fences that a fox cannot jump over or dig underneath makes a big difference. So does adding hot electric wires or electric poultry netting.

If your only defense against predators is chicken wire, add another protective wire, like hardware cloth, so foxes can’t tear it open.

Use Motion Sensors

Installing motion sensors on the sides of the hen house can also help send any potential predators running away in fright.

Alarms, lights, and even water sprinklers will startle the fox and usually make them too nervous to stick around to look for a way into the coop.

Keep the Chickens in a Secure Coop

Always move and securely close your chickens into their coop every night, rather than allowing them to sleep outside.

If the coop doesn’t have a solid floor, make one, or install fencing around it in the ground to prevent foxes from digging in.

If any of the boards are rotten or the tin is cut or bent, replace or repair it immediately. Foxes need very few openings to squeeze through, so make it strong, solid, and tight.

Even if the coop is secure, the run and chicken door could become weak spots. Close the small hen door every night, no matter what, and latch or lock it into place.

Add Guard Animals

Finally, scare predators away by having a guard animal around can also help reduce the chance of a fox attacking your chickens. Medium to extra-large dogs that are trained to be kind to chickens but aggressive towards predators is the best option. Their scent is just as intimidating as their sight, meaning that foxes will likely stay far away from your property and the dog’s territory.

Having more than one trained dog increases the safety of your chickens and other livestock on the farm. More watchful eyes and ears are always beneficial.

With these precautions in place, you’ll have one less worry when it comes to keeping your chickens safe and sound.

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chicken attacked by fox

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Would a Fox Kill a Chicken And Not Eat It?

Foxes kill several chickens and then take one away to eat right away. The chickens that they killed and left are supposed to be another meal for the fox at a later time. Foxes kill chickens out of excitement and food security.

They don’t know if the chickens will be there when they return if they leave them alive, so they kill them all out of convenience for their next meal. Think of it as meal-prepping for foxes.

Do Foxes Kill for Sport?

Some people believe that foxes kill for sport or pleasure. While we can’t definitively prove on way or another if they kill for fun, we are sure that foxes will return for the other dead chickens at a later time to eat them.

Foxes may kill chickens as a sport and as a means to feed themselves.

Do Foxes Kill Chickens During the Day?

Foxes will prey on chickens all hours of the day, no matter if it’s noon, midnight, or anywhere in between. This is why it is so imperative to have a secure coop and run.

If a fox does prey on free-range chickens, they are more likely to only kill one or two rather than the whole flock because it would be so much more work.

When Are Foxes Active?

Foxes are usually the most active and hunt from dusk to dawn, though they don’t stick to any strict schedule and will hunt whenever a good opportunity presents itself.

August and the late summer to mid fall months are the most prevalent times for fox attacks. This is because the foxes are getting ready for winter, and their cubs (baby foxes) are really dependent on them for food.

Why Do Foxes Kill Every Chicken?

Foxes kill every chicken because it’s easy to do, and they plan on coming back and eating the rest of the dead chickens later on.

How Many Foxes Killed My Chickens?

Usually, it’s just one fox that killed your chickens, though occasionally, a pair of foxes will work together. If it seems like they killed an unnecessary number of chickens, it’s because they plan on coming back later for another meal. One fox may kill an entire flock overnight; that is a relatively common occurrence.

Why Do Foxes Kill Chickens and Leave Them? Final Thoughts

I don’t know about you, but it’s a bit of a relief to learn that foxes are wasteful killers; they do intend to come back and eating all the food they put on their plates.

Still, it’s very upsetting to visit your coop and find all of your feathered friends dead and sprawled on the ground. Make sure you keep your coop and run nice, tight, and predator-proof so something this horrific can never happen again.

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