Today is a sad day. While stuck in traffic on the way back from a work meeting, I received a call from Ian to say that 4 hens had been taken.
I suppose it was better that I was prepared for seeing the clusters of feathers in patches around the wood when I got home. Until this week I had only been allowing them out on a weekend while we are all around as I was concerned Mr Fox would visit. But this week I have been letting them roam free. They look so happy when they are scratting around the wood and basking in the sun and I didn’t want them to miss out on this week’s gorgeous weather. I took the decision to allow them out, knowing there is a chance the fox could take them but felt the benefits outweighed the con. I caught a fox in the wood on camera around what could have potentially been an earth, but there hasn’t been any activity around there in recent weeks so thought it would be ok let them out in the day. Obviously now I regret the decision but trying to tell myself I did what I though was best for the hens.
We’ve spent the evening looking for the bodies/survivors, but to no avail. There are many clumps of feathers pinpointing where then hens had been grabbed and struggled to get away. Seeing them is upsetting, but they will blow away in time. I suppose they will be utilised by the birds for nesting material. The four hens taken were from my original 6. One of the remaining hens has been bitten but it doesn’t look too bad- just tiny punctures in the skin under her leg. She’s walking, eating and drinking fine but has her tail is down and she’s been sulking in a corner. I hope she is just a little shaken and sore but will pull through with some rest. The other 7 hens don’t appear phased by what has happened.
I’m not angry with the fox; they are natural wild predators. I don’t believe in persecuting foxes because they attack livestock. It’s a human’s responsibility to ensure their animals are secure. Our pets and livestock are not wild and we have a responsibility to protect them against wild animals.
I’ll definitely stick to keeping the hens in their enclosure during the week from now on.