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How To Keep Foxes At Bay

Don’t let foxes decimate your chickens, or other small animals including pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs. Check out our brief guide to the best and most practical ways to keep foxes at bay and your livestock safe.

Lovable and cute or not, whether you are a farmer, smallholder or small pet owner, you definitely don’t want foxes anywhere near your livestock – be that sheep, chickens or pet rabbits. You need to deter them as much as possible so that their next meal doesn’t consist of either your financial wellbeing or the emotional wellbeing of you and your family! 

Foxes are natural, instinctive and uniquely capable predators, that if they access a coop or field or enclosure with animals that are easy prey, it will use all of its abilities to kill. What’s more, they are really smart and able to adapt easily to any environment, just consider how well they have adapted and thrive within an inner city habitat. A fox won’t let the simple matter of a small fence get in the way of its next meal. Which is why you need to be smart when it comes to sourcing an effective fox deterrent or fencing to protect your livestock.  

Discouraging foxes

There are a few simple things you can do to deter foxes, or at least not actively encourage them. These include securing food waste in bins and ensuring all existing fencing, animal pens and coops are properly maintained and repaired as necessary. Pet dogs or guard dogs are also effective in deterring the interest of foxes who are natural opportunists and will always prefer a less risky meal option.

Other deterrents include having illuminated foxlights or another sort of Illuminated fox deterrent. Foxes are scared of humans, and they associate lights with humans and these lights are designed to emit random LED flashes, shining in different areas at different times, to recreate the movement of a torch and confuse foxes. Then there’s different types of ultrasonic fox deterrent as ultrasonic noises are an irritant to foxes.

Foxes and the law 

You also need to remember that however badly you are plagued by the attention of foxes you should never resort to gassing or poisoning them as this would be illegal. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wild Mammal (Protection) Act 1996, anyone caught poisoning or gassing foxes can be fined up to £5,000. 

You are allowed to shoot free foxes using a suitable firearm and ammunition but obviously shouldn’t use firearms in urban areas for reasons of public safety. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation has a code of practice on shooting foxes at night (lamping).

You can also use dogs to stalk or flush out foxes above ground, but only to stop serious damage to your property and you must not use more than 2 dogs, shoot the foxes as soon as they break cover, carry proof that you own the land or have written permission from the landowner, and you should only use repellents and deterrents approved for use against foxes.


Outfox the fox 

Foxes have their litters in spring time and a vixen with cubs can be one of the most violent killers as she searches for food. The autumn is another key time, as the litters disperse and young, hungry foxes are on the move. Poultry farmers and pet owners will discover that they need to be as wily as the fox itself if they are going to be able to prevent these determined predators from gaining access to areas in which birds are free to roam, or birds or small animals are enclosed.

A very widely used deterrent is electric fencing, and there are a wide range of increasingly sophisticated systems designed to outfox the foxes. Whilst electrified fences are effective

it’s essential to ensure that your system remains in place and is totally stable. You need to check the fence’s condition regularly and ensure the wire or netting is kept in place with robust posts.

Foxes are quick learners and it can be a good idea to ‘teach’ the fox about any new electric barrier by encouraging the fox to ‘test’ the wire by either baiting near the fence or smearing something sticky and sweet on the wire itself before it’s switched on.

The energiser is the all-important electric unit that powers the fence and it is important to remember that any electrified wire fencing that comes into contact with vegetation along a fence’s boundary can significantly reduce the effect of the jolt from the wire, so it’s important to ensure the energiser selected to power your electric fence is powerful and suitable enough. 

Many electric fence kits or systems are extremely portable and easy to set-up by yourself, so you can create an electric fence anywhere you like. You can even carry into distant fields where the fence can be powered by batteries or small solar panels if you are not in reach of a mains connection.