Outfoxing the fox, the complete guide to protecting your flock with all your questions answered.

Dealing with a fox that has been killing your chickens or other poultry.

Raising poultry can be a rewarding experience, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest threats to a flock is foxes. These sly and cunning predators can wreak havoc on a chicken coop and cause harm to your feathered friends.

Table of Contents

This article contain pictures and video some readers might not like.

This article is part of a 5 part series of guides on dealing with foxes:

Protecting your hens from foxes is a top priority for any chicken owner. By building a secure coop, implementing fox deterrent systems, and taking additional precautions, you can help ensure the safety and well-being of your feathered friends. With this guide, you now have the knowledge and tools necessary to protect your chickens from foxes.

Understanding the Fox and it's behaviour:

Foxes are found on 6 of the 7 continents and are one of the biggest threats to poultry.

In the wild, the typical lifespan of a fox is one to three years, although individuals may live up to ten years. Unlike many canids, foxes are not always pack animals. Typically, they live in small family groups, but some (such as Arctic foxes) are known to be solitary.

Below: A fox under the cover of darkness filmed with night vision.

Foxes are known for their intelligence and hunting abilities. They are opportunistic hunters, which means they will take advantage of any opportunity to catch a meal, one of the reasons single birds are sometimes snatched during the day.

To better understand fox behaviour, it is essential to know that foxes are most active at dawn and dusk, and they will typically hunt alone. Being active at night gives them the cover of darkness and makes them more difficult to detect.

Foxes are also known for their keen sense of smell and hearing, which makes them excellent hunters. Additionally, foxes are capable of digging and jumping, which makes it possible for them to get into your chicken coop.

When it comes to chickens, foxes are attracted to the smell, noise and movement of the birds, making them an easy target. 

The staple diet of foxes is not chickens, or any domestic poultry, despite what all keepers who have had the flocks killed might think. The majority of foxes live on eggs when they can get them, beetles, frogs, rabbits, small mammals like mice and voles and wild birds.

Below: The biggest fox we have ever dealt with. 51 inches long, nearly 12 kg in weight with canines at least an inch long.


There has been a divergence in the fox population in the past few decades with some animals now choosing to live in urban areas.These Urban foxes are distinct from their wilder country cousins by growing a little larger and being somewhat more fearless and difficult to deter.

Many will suggest that a fox will kill "for the fun of it" but this is a myth. A fox will kill as many animals as it can if there are many in the environment and only take a percentage of the dead. The reason being, the animal like many other predators will only have a limited number of successful hunts. If you can kill a high number of prey in an area in one sitting, then leave them to come back and get later, you have to use less energy hunting again.

Most species of fox consume around 1 kg (2.2 lb) of food each day. 

The average litter size of a vixen (female fox) will be around 5 cubs, and all of these bundles of fur will require a good amount of energy to grow. When the vixen gives birth to her cubs she will remain with them for up to two weeks as they are unable to regulate their own body heat. Throughout this period she will depend on the dog (male fox) to bring in all food until she is able to leave them for short periods. During this time the dependency on the dog to bring in food is incredibly intense, and this means any food available will be seized.

Fox FAQ:

How do I prevent foxes from digging under my fence? To prevent foxes from digging under your fence, bury the bottom of the fence 12 inches into the ground or install a row of sturdy and heavy paving slabs around the area you want t o protect.

Can I use poison to keep foxes away? No, it is illegal and unethical to use poison or gas to control fox populations.

Can foxes climb over a six-foot fence? While foxes are capable of both climbing and jumping, a six-foot fence should be high enough to prevent them from accessing the coop area.

Is there a season for foxes? Fox season is March into April, that is the time of year at which peak cubbing will occur. There are peaks in fox activity at other times during the year, like when the young leave the den and as cold weather bites in winter and natural food is scarce.

Do foxes kill chickens quickly? No. The fox kills with a powerful bite to the neck which is why you often see decapitated chickens around after an attack. This involves first catching the bird and then delivering the bite. A fox snatching a single bird will run away with it still alive and carry it to a secluded spot before killing it.

Will a fox take the head off a chicken? Foxes do take the heads of chickens, they kill them by biting the neck and decapitation is often the result.

Are foxes dangerous to humans? In the United Kingdom, a number of cases of non-fatal attacks on humans have been reported and they often involved children. Foxes are dangerous to other family pets like cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and small dogs and in some parts of the world carry rabies.

Why do foxes kill all the chickens in a coop? Foxes cache or store excess food, burying it under leaves, snow, or soil so they can consume it later. The fox is just trying to make its own life easier.

How many chickens can a fox kill in one night? The most I have seen a fox kill in one night is 41 chickens so it is likely if a fox gets into your coop it will try to kill all of your chickens.

Why do foxes kill chickens and leave them? They don't plan to leave them, an undisturbed fox will take all the chickens it has killed away given enough time.

How many chickens can a fox carry? Foxes carry one chicken at a time.

Do foxes come back after killing chickens? A fox will return to a source of food just like any animal would.

Do foxes eat chickens they kill? Foxes eat the chickens they kill provided they have enough time to take them all away. 

Why do foxes sometimes attack during the day? Hungry foxes or those with young will hunt whenever they need to.

Can I kill a fox if it attacks my chickens? You can kill a fox that is attacking your chickens provided you stick to certain legal and humane methods. Trapping and killing is a short term solution to a long term problem.

Will foxes eat the eggs as well? Foxes will the eggs from any poultry or wild bird if they can get them.

Defending against the fox:

A fox is not the problem, the security of your chickens environment is the problem.

The first line of defence against predators like foxes is to deter them from your land with sturdy well maintained fences.

You should be taking steps to make sure that foxes are not drawn to your land as an easy supply of food and water and shelter. Remove cover they can hide in and make sure they are not building dens under your sheds.

There are dozens of ways to deter foxes from your land and I have covered them in a separate article here.

Deal with vermin. Rats and mice can bring foxes and snakes in the coop.

Motion-activated lights  and sound can be a helpful tool in keeping chickens safe from foxes. These lights will turn on when they detect movement, startling foxes and making them think twice about approaching the coop.

The coop is the last line of defence against predators like foxes. It must be sturdy, well built and have a solid base.

In addition to a secure coop, it's important to also fence in the coop area. The fence should be at least six feet high and made of sturdy material that is difficult for foxes to climb or dig under. It's also a good idea to bury the bottom of the fence a few inches into the ground to prevent foxes from digging underneath.

This article is part of a 5 part series of guides on dealing with foxes: