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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Was there a fox on the hen house?!

This morning I went out to do chores - feed the horses and llamas and check the water for ice, etc. The last thing I do before going back into the house is let the chickens out of their coop/run. I make sure that they are all in the fully enclosed run every night so that predators can't get them. I lost a chicken in December after running to Colorado Springs one afternoon and we didn't get back home until after dark. Something had gone into the enclosure where we have the chicken coop/run and we found feathers everywhere. My Rhode Island Red chicken was missing. We never found her.

This morning, when I went out to open up the coop and run doors, I discovered paw prints on the TOP of the coop. I'm not sure what they are from but I suspect a fox.

Here is what the coop/run look like.

 One door of the coop opens up outside the fully enclosed run.

The other door opens up into the fully enclosed run.

This morning I discovered this
These prints are on top of the coop roof. The tracks that run from the top right to the bottom left are bird tracks (the wild birds love to get into the chicken run to eat the seed I put in there for the chickens.)

Here is a close-up of one of the paw prints
And, an even closer view, color and contrast enhanced to show better definition

The enclosure that has the chicken coop/run in it is fenced on three sides with no-climb field fencing. The gate has chicken wire lashed to it and a board is sitting over the bottom of the gate. However, the fourth side is hog panels so a fox could probably get through there but they would have to go through the entire pasture where our female llamas are to get to that section of fence. The female llamas' pasture is also fenced with no-climb fencing completely around it, however it has a 10 foot gate that a coyote or fox, etc could easily go through.

I measured this particular paw print - it measures 2-1/2 inches across at the widest point and 3 inches from back to front.

I suppose it could be a tom cat print - there is a huge orange tabby tom cat that roams the neighborhood. But, I suspect a fox. Anybody else care to venture a guess??

By the way, the chickens were all safe and sound in their run this morning. Last summer we put bricks all the way around the entire run because a skunk(s) kept digging underneath and getting into the run to eat the chicken's feed. The poor chickens were scared to go into the run at night and were going to roost on the hog panel fencing for the night (NOT safe!)

Here are all four of my hens - they were no worse for the wear this morning


Lin said...

Oh, SCARY! I hope whatever it is, doesn't get the girls! :O

Split Rock Ranch said...

Hi Lin!!! So far the hens are fine. We've done a lot to secure their pen, including putting it into an area where I thought that nothing but aerial predators could get to it. The llama in that pen is old and had a broken hip many years ago so he doesn't get around very well. I should probably move the hen house to a different area that has better protection.