March 24, 2009

A smallholder's lot is not a happy one…

There was a massacre of the innocents in my garden yesterday at lunchtime. Three of our five chickens became a takeaway lunch for one of the local foxes and its young family. Foxes get brave at this time of year, they have young families to feed so they will wander around the local farms and gardens looking for food that’s easier to come by than digging for worms in the fields.

I lost one of my chickens a year ago to a fox, and that seemed a reasonable price to pay for the pleasure of owning them and the eggs they produce, but losing three in one go is harder. And a difficult lesson for the kids, too.

The chickens were roaming the garden quite freely, but unprotected. It seems cruel to keep them locked up for their entire lives in a box 6 feet by two feet so they were allowed to roam most days. It is a question of balance between giving them a decent quality of life and something approaching a natural life for a ‘wild’ chicken or keeping them alive simply for the eggs they produce for us. The foxes won’t come in the garden when humans are around but the chickens are a walking lunch box for them that they will wait for…


- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. How big’s your garden? I know it’d be a lot tricker with younger kids, but some friends of mine when I grew up lived next door to a house which had given about half its garden to a covered coop. It seemed to keep the foxes out but they did have a lot of birds.

    26 Mar 2009, 17:06

  2. It’s a big garden and maybe the answer is to enclose some of it to make a big run. In the wild, though, they are a foraging animal so it would be great to try to recreate that rather than turn them into some sort of pseudo battery chickens. It’s a difficult choice. I have cats, too, who may act as a deterrent to foxes but, being a prey animal, the chickens just need supervising better and locking away when there’s no one around.

    27 Mar 2009, 10:42


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