Apparently, people, there is a growing problem with urban foxes in the major cities of Australia. I learned about this from a customer who wrote for ways to keep his flock secure from these foxes in a mobile chicken coop like The Garden Ark.
Securing the floor
I haven’t had to deal with foxes where we are (raccoons and hawks are the biggies), but here are some of the things I’d consider if I were going to make the otherwise open floor of a chicken tractor secure from large, determined, tunneling predators:
UPDATE: See this post for my new recommended method — free plans for how to fox-proof your chicken tractor.
- You could seal off the bottom with hardware cloth or rabbit fencing (which has wider openings), then add a few inches of litter above that. The hens won’t get to scratch in the dirt or take dust baths as they would get to do with an open floor, but the bedding will give them something to scratch in as well as some cushion from the wire. On The Garden Ark, you could use 2x6s for the skids to give you extra depth for the bedding.
- You could fashion a hardware cloth skirt. This would be a 2-foot perimeter of hardware cloth staked into the ground around the base of the coop. You’d have to figure a way to make that portable with the coop. Basically, the skirt forces a tunneling animal to start digging farther away from the coop than would ever occur to them to do.
- Or you could close the hens in at night on a regular basis, then on the occasions when you leave for the weekend, place the ark on a driveway or concrete pad (or a pad of hardware cloth) and add some bedding for them. No predator will bother tunneling through concrete.
If you only want to keep a few chickens, but permanent security from tough, tunneling predators is a concern, you might also consider building The Garden Coop, but modifying it to be smaller. Because it’s stationary, The Garden Coop design allows you to bring the hardware cloth that surrounds your coop and run down into the ground a foot or more.
There are unlimited ways to modify The Garden Coop to be smaller, but a popular one involves basically lopping off a third of the design. You can see a few examples of this on our Make It Your Own page.
Then there’s always my favorite option: build both The Garden Ark and The Garden Coop!
If you have questions about our chicken coop plans or topics you’d like me to cover, please leave a comment, or email me.
1 thought on “Urban foxes in Melbourne, Australia (and how to protect your chickens)”
UPDATE: A year after posing the original question, the customer followed up with this note:
“Our friends around the corner lost a chook to a fox about a month ago. So far we have no evidence that the foxes have been trying to get into our coop, which could also be due to the presence of our snappy little dachshund. But anyway, when we have gone away for the weekend, we have left the Garden Ark up on the bricks in the yard, without closing the henhouse door, so that the chooks can access the henhouse at night and their food and water during the day. And so far the foxes have had no success (if they have tried) of getting under the ark and into the coop. So that is good!”