why do foxes kill chicken and leave them

Why Do Foxes Kill Chickens and Leave Them? (Prevention)

If you are a farmer or a backyard chicken enthusiast, then you have probably experienced the devastating loss of your feathered friends to predators.

Foxes, in particular, are known for their chicken-killing tendencies, but what may surprise you is that sometimes they kill chickens and leave them behind. This behavior may seem strange and confusing, but there are several reasons why it occurs.

Let’s explore why foxes kill chickens and leave them and what you can do to protect your flock.

The Predator-Prey Relationship Between Foxes And Chickens

Foxes are natural predators of chickens, and the two species have coexisted for centuries. This relationship is a classic example of predator-prey dynamics, where one species hunts and kills the other for food.

Foxes are opportunistic predators and will hunt and eat any small animal they can catch, including rabbits, squirrels, and birds.

The Instincts Of A Predator

Predators are hard-wired to hunt and kill, and it’s a natural behavior for them. Foxes are no exception, and they have an innate drive to hunt and kill prey. This instinct is so strong that they will continue to kill even when they are not hungry.

The Hunger Factor

One of the primary reasons why foxes kill and leave is hunger. Foxes are scavengers and will often kill more than they can eat in one sitting. They will stash the extra food away for later or come back to it when they are hungry again.

The Play Factor

Another reason why foxes kill chickens and leave them behind is play. Foxes are playful animals and will often engage in playful behavior, even with their prey. They may chase and kill a chicken just for fun and leave it behind.

The Territorial Factor

Foxes are territorial animals, and they mark their territory to keep other animals out. Killing a chicken and leaving it behind is a way for a fox to show dominance and mark its territory.

The Protective Factor

In some cases, a fox may kill a chicken and leave it behind to protect its territory. If the fox feels threatened by the presence of chickens in its territory, it may kill one to send a message to the others to stay away.

The Gender Factor

Foxes are more likely to kill male chickens than females. This is because male chickens are larger and more aggressive than females, and they are more of a threat to a fox.

The Number of Chickens Factor

If there are multiple chickens in a flock, a fox may kill more than one chicken but only take one back to its den. This is because foxes are not strong enough to carry multiple chickens at once.

The Breeding Factor

During the breeding season, foxes need to eat more food to sustain themselves and their young. This means that they may kill more chickens than usual and stash them away for later. However, if they are not hungry, they may leave the chickens behind.

The Protection Factor

If a fox feels threatened or is being chased by a predator or human, it may kill a chicken and leave it behind as a distraction or sacrifice. This behavior allows the fox to escape while the predator or human is distracted by the chicken.

Do Foxes Attack Chickens In Daylight Or At Night?

Foxes are known to attack chickens both during the day and at night. However, their behavior can vary depending on the region and time of year.

In areas where there are more predators, foxes are more likely to hunt at night to avoid detection. In areas where there are fewer predators, foxes may hunt during the day.

During the spring and summer months, foxes are more active and may hunt during the day to feed their young. In the fall and winter months, foxes are more active at night as they search for food to prepare for the winter.

fox killed chicken and eat

How To Protect Chickens From Foxes

Building A Strong Chicken Coop

One of the most effective ways to protect your chickens from foxes is to build a strong and secure chicken coop.

The coop should be made of sturdy materials, such as wood or metal, and should be at least six feet tall to prevent foxes from jumping over the fence. The coop should also have a solid roof to prevent foxes from digging their way into the coop.

Additionally, you should ensure that the coop has a secure door that can be locked at night. Foxes are known to be skilled at opening latches, so it is crucial to use a secure lock that they cannot manipulate.

Using Electric Fencing

Electric fencing is another effective way to protect your chickens from foxes. Electric fencing can be set up around the chicken coop to prevent foxes from getting too close to the chickens. The fencing should be at least six feet tall and have wires spaced about four inches apart.

Electric fencing can be powered by either a battery or a solar panel, and it should be checked regularly to ensure that it is functioning correctly. It is also crucial to make sure that the fence is grounded to prevent any electrical shocks.

Using Motion-Activated Lights And Alarms

Motion-activated lights and alarms can also be effective in keeping foxes away from your chickens. These devices work by detecting motion and emitting a loud noise or flashing light that scares away the predator.

Motion-activated lights and alarms can be placed around the chicken coop and should be set up in a way that they are not triggered by other animals or objects.

Keeping The Area Around The Chicken Coop Clear

Keeping the area around the chicken coop clear is also crucial in preventing foxes from getting too close to the chickens.

Foxes are known to be attracted to areas with tall grass, brush, and debris. Therefore, it is crucial to keep the area around the chicken coop well-maintained and free of any debris.

Additionally, it is crucial to remove any food or water sources around the chicken coop that may attract foxes. This includes bird feeders, compost piles, and garbage cans.

Using Guard Dogs

Guard dogs can also be an effective way to protect chickens from foxes. Guard dogs can be trained to patrol the area around the chicken coop and scare away any predators. It is crucial to choose a breed of dog that is known for its protective instincts, such as a Great Pyrenees or Anatolian Shepherd.

What To Do If A Fox Attacks Your Chickens?

Secure Your Coop

The first step in preventing fox attacks is to secure your coop. Foxes are very crafty and can easily find their way into a poorly constructed coop. Make sure that your coop is sturdy and made of strong materials.

Check for any holes or gaps in the walls or roof and patch them up immediately. Use hardware cloth to cover all openings, including windows and ventilation holes. A good rule of thumb is that if a pencil can fit through a gap, so can a fox.

Install A Fence

In addition to securing your coop, it’s important to have a fence around your chicken run. This will provide an extra layer of protection for your chickens.

Make sure that the fence is at least six feet tall and buried at least six inches deep to prevent foxes from digging underneath it. Use wire mesh fencing with small holes to prevent foxes from squeezing through.

Use Deterrents

There are several deterrents that you can use to keep foxes away from your chickens. One of the most effective is an electric fence.

This will give foxes a shock if they try to climb over or dig under the fence. You can also use motion-activated lights and sound machines to scare off foxes.

Train Your Chickens

Believe it or not, you can train your chickens to be more aware of predators like foxes. By providing them with a safe place to hide, such as a covered run or coop, they will learn to seek shelter when they sense danger.

You can also train them to come when called, which can help keep them safe if they stray too far from the coop.

Be Vigilant

Finally, it’s important to be vigilant when it comes to fox attacks. Keep an eye out for any signs of a fox in the area, such as tracks or droppings. If you do see a fox, try to scare it away by making loud noises or spraying it with water.

If a fox does manage to attack your chickens, separate the injured birds from the rest of the flock and seek veterinary care immediately.


Foxes are natural predators of chickens, and killing them is part of their instinctual behavior. While it may seem strange that foxes sometimes leave chickens behind, there are several reasons why this happens. Understanding why foxes kill chickens and leave them can help you protect your flock and minimize losses.


Do foxes only kill chickens for food?

No, foxes may kill chickens for reasons other than food, such as play, territorial marking, or protection.

What time of day are foxes most active?

Foxes are most active at night, but they can also be active during the day.

Will a fox come back for a chicken it left behind?

It’s possible that a fox may come back for a chicken it left behind if it’s hungry, but it’s not guaranteed.

Can a guard dog protect chickens from foxes?

Yes, a well-trained guard dog can protect chickens from predators, including foxes.

How can I prevent foxes from entering my chicken coop?

Secure your chicken coop and run with strong wire mesh and locks to prevent foxes from entering. Also, clear away any vegetation or debris around the coop and run to eliminate hiding spots for foxes.

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