Although many aspects must be considered when building a chicken coop, ensuring it is secure against wild animals such as foxes is one of the most important. Roosting chickens are incredibly vulnerable at night, and if a fox gains access to the coop, then carnage is guaranteed.
We’ve got a healthy population of foxes in our area. But so far, we have never lost any chickens to foxes in the coop (the run is a different matter, but more on that later!).
After three years of use, we feel confident that our chicken coop is completely secure! And today, we’d like to share some of our design ideas with you.
How Can I Make My Chicken Coop Fox Proof?
Want to fox-proof your chicken coop? Then, every design aspect must be considered from the ground up. Foxes are incredibly intelligent predators and, once they know that chickens are in the vicinity, will return until they manage to capture their prey.
Foxes invariably find weak spots and work away until they get what they want. We’ve known foxes to chew through heavy-duty chicken wire and wooden boards, so don’t underestimate their persistence!
So, starting from the bottom up, let’s look at every aspect of building the ultimate fox-proof chicken coop.
Building A Fox-Proof Chicken Coop – Our Official Step-By-Step Guide
Building a chicken coop that’s safe from foxes involves multiple measures to ensure the safety of your chickens. Here’s a six-step process that we use to keep our flock safe.
1. Choose A Secure Location
Select a site away from dense bushes or wooded areas where foxes might hide. An open area provides better visibility and reduces hiding spots for potential predators.
Ensure the area has good drainage and is not prone to flooding.
2. Build A Sturdy Structure
Construct a coop using sturdy materials like wood, metal, or both. Ensure the coop is strong enough to withstand attempts by foxes to break in. Use welded wire mesh fencing or hardware cloth with small openings (around one-half inch) to cover all gaps, windows, and vents to prevent foxes from squeezing through.
(Like many homesteaders, we chose the cheaper option of building our coop from reclaimed wood. When complete, the structure had a chicken wire covering to prevent determined predators from attempting to chew their way in.)
3. Fortify Entrances And Exits
Install fox-proof locks and latches on all doors and openings. Use sturdy, predator-proof doors. If you often forget to double-check your coop at night, deploy automated chicken coop doors that can close on a preset schedule.
We were lucky enough to build our coop on a solid foundation – making it nearly impossible for foxes to dig underneath. But if you don’t have a solid foundation for your coop, at least create a tight cover around the coop by extending wire mesh outward and along the ground. The idea is to prevent the fox from digging underneath the coop.
(Our coop’s windows and ventilation slats have a heavy-duty fine-gauge wire mesh covering. We’ll also talk more about chicken coop floors later in this guide.)
4. Secure Perimeter Fencing
Enclose the coop area with a sturdy fence at least six feet tall. Use welded wire mesh fencing or hardware cloth with buried portions (12 inches underground) to prevent foxes from digging underneath.
Add an angled overhang or barrier at the top of the fence to deter climbing or jumping attempts by foxes. Ensure the overhang angles outward!
This fox-proof enclosure means our hens benefit from time outside when we can’t leave them out in the more spacious run. We also fitted an automatic door to shut them in the coop at night, giving us extra peace of mind.
5. Provide Adequate Lighting And Deterrents
Install motion-activated lights around the coop perimeter to deter nocturnal predators like foxes, coyotes, and raccoons.
6. Regular Maintenance And Inspection
Inspect the coop and its surroundings for any weak spots, damages, or potential entry points.
Double-check the fencing, locks, and coop structure regularly. Foxes won’t give up in their quest to enter your chicken coop. So, you must remain vigilant!
These tips can reduce the risk of fox attacks significantly. However, no method is foolproof. Regular checks and adapting to new threats are crucial to keeping your chickens safe.
Will Foxes Dig Under A Chicken Coop?
The base or flooring of your chicken coop is one of the most critical factors. Foxes can and will dig under a chicken coop – remember that these resourceful animals live deep underground in excavated burrows. So, digging is no problem for them!
If you build your chicken coop directly on the ground, foxes and other predators can dig their way underneath without fuss. When these creative animals realize chickens live in the coop, they will find ways to dig in. So, how do you get around this problem?
The best way to stop foxes and other predators from digging under a chicken coop is to stand the coop on a solid base such as concrete. Alternatively, the coop base can have a fox-proof wire mesh lining to protect your flock from predators.
In our case, we were lucky enough to have an area of concrete slab in the ideal location for our chicken coop. We built a sturdy wood coop on this solid concrete base to ensure no gaps around the bottom where animals could squeeze through. The other advantage of sitting your chicken coop on concrete is that it is easy to keep clean and dry. The ability to clean easily helps fight off mites or worm eggs that can harm your flock.
But if concrete is not a feasible option for you, or you want to move your chicken pen from place to place, what are the alternatives? In this situation, a floor within the coop, either made from wood or wire mesh, can work perfectly.
Wooden floors are cheap and easy to install but can be unhygienic and difficult to maintain. They hold moisture and potentially harbor mites, bed bugs (Yes, bed bugs attack chickens!), or lice in any gaps. A wooden chicken coop floor will also deteriorate quickly. Determined predators can also chew through them.
Many homesteaders find wire mesh simpler – it makes the coop lighter to move, and any droppings fall onto the ground underneath. A grid mesh floor under a mobile chicken coop is ideal if you use a chicken tractor system to maintain your land.
How Small A Gap Can A Fox Get Through?
Now you’ve got a plan for the base figured out, it is time to create the coop itself. No matter what material you choose, the most vital aspect of protecting your chickens from predators is to minimize gaps. Bear in mind that a fox can squeeze through a gap as small as four inches by four inches (or 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters) – pretty impressive!
Most homesteaders use wood to build a chicken coop – it is relatively cheap, easy to work with, and creates a long-lasting structure for your hens. Other options include concrete, metal, plastic, or plywood. All have different advantages and disadvantages. But when it comes to keeping your chickens safe, the principles are all the same.
Most of your coop will be a solid structure – after all, the aim is to keep your flock warm and dry at night. Pay careful attention to any joints. Ensure that gaps are tightly closed and secure. We used reclaimed wooden floorboards from our house renovation project to build our chicken coop, meaning our only expenditure at this stage was on a few screws and nails.
One essential aspect of chicken coop design is ventilation – you need to include around one square foot of ventilation for every hen in the coop. Our coop design has one large window frame covered in wire mesh, plus a four-inch wide gap just under the roof along the sides.
This ventilation gap was big enough for a fox to fit through. So, to protect our chickens from harm, we fitted sturdy wire mesh wire over all the ventilation gaps. For extra protection, we added chicken wire fencing material around the outside of the coop to deter nocturnal animals from chewing at the wooden boards.
What Is The Best Way To Cover A Chicken Coop?
The final aspect of building a chicken coop is to fit a secure roof. A good roof protects your roosting hens from the cold, wind, and rain. The coop roof also ensures that foxes, owls, and hawks cannot access the coop. Foxes can climb and jump over solid structures up to six feet in height, so scrambling up and over a chicken coop wall won’t be a problem for these determined creatures!
We got hold of some off-cuts of sandwich panel roofing boards earlier this year, thanks to a mutually beneficial trade with a neighbor! This new acquisition allowed us to upgrade the shabby old roof, and the added insulation keeps the coop chilled in summer and warmer in winter.
However, as there was a slight risk that natural predators could chew through them, we lined the underside with wire mesh as an extra layer of protection.
How To Deter Foxes From Your Chicken Coop
So, you’ve constructed the Fort Knox of chicken coops. But do you feel 100% sure your backyard chickens are safe at night? You can reinforce your chicken coop with a few easy steps to avoid potential threats.
One good option is to build a super-secure defensive perimeter fence around the outside of the coop to create a fox-proof enclosure. We did this earlier this year following a horrific fox attack, and it has given us peace of mind that our flock is safe whenever we’re not around. This fence includes a wire (hardware cloth) mesh skirt layer dug into the ground to stop foxes from digging under and layers of wire fencing over the top to keep climbing and aerial predators at bay.
If you’ve got a mobile secure coop, erecting an electric fence around it is an excellent way to keep your feathered friends safe at night. Solar-powered predator deterrent lights also frighten unwanted visitors, and scent repellents such as cayenne pepper and ammonia-soaked rags are also said to be effective deterrents against foxes.
Thanks so much for reading our guide about building a fox-proof chicken coop.
We love our birds and try to treat them like family members. And – we hope you do the same to yours!
We also hope our 6-step guide and epic tips help you build the best coop possible.
What about you?
- Have you ever seen foxes trying to snatch your hens?
- Have you had success scaring foxes away? What works best for you?
- What other predators harass your coop? Maybe owls, hawks, coyotes, wild dogs, skunks, or possums?
- Could you add a guard dog to help sound the alarm?
- Do you have any predator-protection tips you can share?
We love brainstorming with fellow chicken fanciers from all over the world. And we hope to hear back!
Thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!
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How To Build A Fox Proof Chicken-Coop | References, Resources, And Works Cited: