Predators

Keeping chickens safe from predators has to be top on your list of priorities. There are several animals around the World that will prey on chickens and it’s your job to keep them safe and not letting them become part of the local wildlife’s food chain!

Foxes

In the United Kingdom, the number one predator for chickens is of course the fox but did you know that some people also have badgers killing their chickens? Most inexperienced people will think a fox has visited however this isn’t always the case.

A fox is opportunistic, he will visit your garden regularly (a little tip, if it snows, go out and have a look for paw prints to see if foxes are visiting and how close they get to your chickens – you might be surprised!) and the one night you forget to lock up your chickens… he’ll visit.

There is more information about foxes and how to tell if it was a fox that took your chickens on the Foxes page under the Pest and Predators menu.

Fox-looking-for-chickens

Badgers

Badgers are incredibly strong and if they are hungry, they have been known to tear off wooden panels of chicken houses that aren’t secure and tear open pop holes to get to chickens. They will usually kill and take one bird but might come back for a second. They usually work alone.

Mink, Stoats and Weasels can all be a problem but are far less common in most parts of the UK.

Domestic Cats

Cats aren’t generally a problem to fully grown chickens and mine have never bothered with young ‘growers’. They seem more interested in chicks though and shouldn’t be trusted. Some people have had problems, usually with a specific cat in the neighbourhood and with smaller bantam chickens. It’s very difficult to keep cats out completely.

chick looking at cat

Yikes… I won’t be trusting you in a hurry.

Rats and Mice

Pests such as rats and mice can be a problem as they spread diseases, eat valuable feed supplies and (rats) can steal eggs and gnaw at doors, wires and even chickens feet. Usually only one or the other are present and rats can be quite discreet so if there are no mice then be suspicious of rats!

There is more detailed information about Rats and Mice under the Predators menu.

80 Responses to Predators

  1. Sarah says:

    I had a visit from a badger last night. I heard a chicken around 2 am which is very unusual. When I looked out of the window I saw it run by. (The geese stood and watched!)I ran out with the dogs and a couple of hours later managed to flush it out (its mostly long grasses at the moment) and the dogs chased it away. Sadly it killed one of my roosters.
    It was very lucky to get in, the property has stock-proof fencing with buried rabbit netting around all but the track leading to the road which is overgrown either side. Not to mention we are surrounded by open fields. I have been quite relaxed with the closing of the stable door where the chickens sleep what with the geese and it being so difficult for anything to get in. Until now that is!
    Does anyone know what my rights are when it comes to protecting my stock here in scotland? I know badgers are protected but if it keeps coming back I need to be able to do something.

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      You can’t shoot it so can only secure your run / house but remember badgers are very strong and can trash a weak chicken coop easily. A barn sounds ideal.

  2. Carol Harley says:

    We have been keeping chickens for over 30 years and I have had approximately half a dozen chickens killed by hedgehogs. I would not have believed it until I saw one of our hens being attacked by a hedgehog one night (luckily after some TLC the chicken survived but the hedgehog got picked up and thrown over the fence). I have spoken to a couple of gamekeepers and they have had hedgehogs killing the young pheasants. – I have gone off hedgehogs in a big way now!!

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Wow, I’ve never heard of this before!

    • Sally Ann says:

      I live in Lanzarote Canary Islands we don’t have foxes here or any predators… or so I thought. Tonight blood curdling screams from the chicken pen… imagine my shock finding a hedgehog pinning diwn one of my chickens by the leg !!!! I flicked it off and it ran away I put the hen in a cat box for the night as it could not stand, checked the others were all perched safely… tomorrow a hedgehog hunt… never in my life would I have believed it had I not seen it with my iwn eyes.

      • Keeping Chickens says:

        Wow, I’ve never heard of killer hedgehogs before!

        They should be easier to keep out of the chicken run at least.

  3. Jean O'Connell says:

    We let our chickens out during the day when we are around otherwise they are in their Fox proof run. Is it safe to let the hens roam in our garden when we are at work during the day? We live in a city but a neighbour does have a Fox set in their garden and we do see foxes at night

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Will a fox visit during the day? = Yes.

      If your garden isn’t fenced then it won’t be safe I’m afraid.

  4. Lee says:

    I would recommend trying gathering your dogs poos or something stronger like ferret poo particular a male one as they stink real bad and mark entrances or areas around your property to try and put a stop to the badger visiting. They will keep trying but you could try using a cat detterant high pitched squeal. this work when the badger comes in proximity to the pen or your property.

  5. Helen says:

    We woke up this morning to find all 7 of our hens had been completely eaten. There want a trace of a carcus, just a few feathers here & there. We are in a village that neighbours a town so isn’t by any means secluded, our garden backs on to a field. It seems whatever attacked bit through 2 8mm rubber clips that secure the nesting box & got in that way. We know there are foxes about, but what has confused us is that there is just nothing left of the bodies. Does anyone know of any other predators that would take 7 birds- 4 silkys & 3 orpingtons!!

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      It would be a fox Helen. They will (if undisturbed) kill and then keep coming back to take the bodies. They can’t eat it all in one go so they bury it. I once found ducks that were taken buried in a neighbours flower bed (the soil was loose and easy to dig I guess). Check the local area – a tell tale feather often shows the route the fox took.

  6. Mark everett says:

    We have recently lost about 9 chickens over a period of about two weeks! One was left in the chicken coop and had been killed but not savaged or eaten and the rest have all disappeared never to be seen again. The fence on the coop is 6′ high and all the chickens have been clipped to stop them flying out – any bright ideas what might be attacking them? We have been told it could be a pine marten?

    We live in Callander Central Scotland.

  7. margaret gilbert says:

    i have my chickens in a six foot high run of harris fencing with mesh on the top ,however something has managed to get hold of one through the bars and really mauled it .The tail feathers are all ripped off and a big chunk out of her back , its been suggested it could be a cat ,does anyone no of this

  8. Matt says:

    My wife came home tonight to find a neighbour’s, semi-ferral, cat eating our Bantum cockeral. Poor thing was probably use to our cats being around and didn’t know what hit him. Two very upset young children when they got home from school.

    Rest of our flock are fully grown hens so just hoping the cat hasn’t got a taste for chickens now and comes back for another go. We shall be keeping them in their pen for a few days while we monitor the cats behaviour.

    It doesn’t take the hint – had plenty of buckets of water thrown over it and beaten up several times by our two.

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Oh dear. Cats don’t usually bother with chickens but for the few that do, bantams are more likely to be attacked being so small.

      I think you’re doing the right thing containing the chickens for a while. If the problem persists, maybe even feeding the cat for a while would help? It sounds strange but if it’s starving hungry, it might be more likely to have to hunt for its next meal. If not, I guess an electrified fence would keep the cat and foxes out and chickens in a given area but that may not be possible in a small garden.

  9. Lin Brown says:

    My silver laced Wyandotte bantam Blossom has vanished. Put to bed in a large fox proof run 50m x 30m, with trees. A 6″ fence with electric wire surrounds and scaffolding boards laid flat round the bottom edge prevents digging. I left Blossom happily munching treats before taking herself off to bed. She sleeps outside in the run usually low down.

    Chooks let out 10am next day to free range the farm but Blossom has vanished without a trace. Not even a feather for a clue. No sign of entry and even if something managed to climb the wire netting how would it get out with a chicken leaving no signs?

    As far as I know our predators are fox , badger, buzzard, rats, and maybe next doors cat. So Far my money is on the Buzzard. But it is still a mystery. I have eliminated a sudden attack of broodiness. Flying out of the pen is unlikely (she is not a flighty type) but not impossible. Any clues /comments please?

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Sorry Lin, I don’t know 🙁 It’s hard to say what happened to her without any clues. Could it be a 2 legged fox?

  10. Laura says:

    I had a hen eaten ( I assume) last night. I have 2 ex battery hens. I think a badger has broken the metal clasps and split the wood of the lid to get in. This was not a cheap coop, quality heavy wood.
    No evidence left behind. And one survived in the morning. Absolutely heart breaking experience. The survivor is now residing in my bathroom. I hear badgers come back when they find a food source.

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