Friday, November 11, 2011

not-so-fantastic Mr Fox

Or Mrs Fox? Could have been. In any case, somebody ate one of our lovely chickens two nights ago.

We've been keeping chickens in our backyard for over ten years now. Although visitors have sometimes asked about the fox threat, we've never seen any evidence of them before. After all, we live in a rather suburban area and the idea of foxes roaming the streets seems faintly ludicrous.

However, the evidence seemed pretty clear yesterday: small hole in the fence, lots of feathers, only two chickens left where there once were three.

The two who are left seem like they've had a bit of a horrible experience, poor girls.
I've had to actually physically remove them from the nest to make them have some food and water.

The one of the right had gone broody anyway. See the smaller comb? She's been on the nest for several weeks now and has kind of shrunk all over. In fact we'd just decided to get her some fertile eggs to sit on; something we've never tried before. The other night we er, hatched this plan over a couple of wines, and I Googled "fertile eggs Adelaide" and hastily added "chicken" on the end. Voila: Chooknet, and the promise of gold-laced Wyandotte eggs (same as our girls but different colouring) by the weekend. Dontcha love the internet?

Anyhow the chookyard has been reinforced with rocks and wire, and we plan to roof the entire thing with more wire netting. There was actually already a small hole in the wire where the fox got in; we'll be more vigilant in future. We'd only had to worry about chooks working their own way out before.

In the meantime we're shutting the girls in their nest house each night. Still hoping to get the fertile eggs over the weekend. And maybe another full-grown chicken to help convince ms. non-broody that the yard is safe again. Wyandottes apparently make excellent mothers and I've been researching how to look after a hen and her clutch.

We're nervous for our girls, but determined that this won't stop our chook-keeping.

And I suppose I can still enjoy Fantastic Mr Fox, the movie. After all, as he keeps telling Mrs Fox, he's a wild animal. Even if he's not native to Australia, and introduced by some tally-ho nincompoop who wanted to hunt. Grr.

- Jane x


  1. Oh, no! So traumatic! This is one reason I haven't gotten chickens (well, that and my two dogs and their - ahem - "prey drive"). We have lots of raccoons in our neighborhood (and some possums) so our friends with chickens always seem to be losing them. :-(

    I'm very curious to hear about the fertile eggs idea! And don't you have to introduce new chickens very carefully to avoid fights over territory and stuff? (But what do I know?)

  2. Wow, raccoons will go for a chicken will they? Nasty buggers. And yeah, you're right about introducing new chooks, they have a definite pecking order and it takes a while to sort out where the new one belongs in that. But with one of ours on the nest and the other one a bit traumatised, I think there won't be too much trouble. I will report back on the egg situation - we pick them up today! Excited!

  3. We've considered chickens. But since my son is allergic to chicken and eggs, and I only eat eggs if they're in a cake (which doesnt happen often due to the boy's allergies), they'd really just be there as pets. And we've SEEN foxes on a 6 lane highway 20 minutes from our house, so thats not a comforting thought for their survival rate. Neighbours have some though, maybe we should just go for it.

  4. Those are very pretty chickens BTW. I love the ones with interesting feathers.

  5. Hi Sarah, yeah the chickens have been pretty much low-maintenance, rewarding pets for the most part. And I love being able to give away eggs when we have too many. But you would probably want to check out the allergy implications in case your son might be allergic to the birds themselves?
    We'd only had black, white and brown chooks before. We got these pretty Wyandottes partly because the more 'commercial' breeds lay a lot for the first couple of years then get worn out and stop, where as these are meant to be be more slow-and-steady for a number of years. Seems the downside of that may be a tendency to broodiness.

  6. Darn fox!!! We are hoping to get ducks for eggs this spring, hopefully we won't have trouble the predators!

  7. small + friendly, yes I wish you the best of luck with ducks! I believe their eggs are delicious. And such sweet looking birds :)

  8. Not only will raccoons eat chickens (they're omnivores), but they have opposing thumbs and notoriously can unlatch all but the most complex gates. They're super smart. Possums are not as intelligent or handy, but if the opportunity arises, will eat chickens too. That's the thing about chickens - they're tasty and dumb, and practically everyone likes to eat them.


Hey, I would really love to know what you think. Go on!

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