A Fox Attack Survival Story

When I interrupted a fox attacking for the second consecutive day (see story here), my Cuckoo Marans hen ran across the yard towards me.  There was no sign of injury although her feathers looked ruffled.  In any case, my focus was on getting rid of the problem so I didn’t have time to check on her.  After the fox had been dispatched, I went looking and found her already starting to withdraw.  There were 4 deep bite wounds on her back and, fearing infection, I squirted liberal quantities of Neosporin into each separate wound. I try to avoid segregating, since poultry are such social animals, so unless a bird is contagious or has a wound that will be pecked by the others, I treat and return to the flock.  In this case, the hen’s wounds weren’t visible unless the feathers were spread and I didn’t think the others would mess with her.  So, I returned her to the flock rather than adding to her stress by separating her from her mates.

Next morning she was completely withdrawn.  She wouldn’t eat, drink, or even move out of the sun.  I knew I was losing her.  I moved her around all day to make sure she didn’t overheat, and dipped her beak in water often.  At night I lifted her onto the roost and woke early so I could lift her down again next morning.  I figured she was probably in pain from her injuries and getting on and off the roost might be more than she could take.

Three days went by.  I didn’t see her eat or drink in spite of my best efforts, and, desperate to find some way to snap her out of it, I decided to offer her an egg. When I cracked the egg into a bowl, I saw her look towards the bowl with interest – the first interest she had shown in anything since the attack.  Slowly she dipped her beak and started to eat.  She didn’t eat much but that she ate at all gave me hope that she would make it.  From that moment on, she never looked back, and a few weeks later started to lay again.

Since this happened I have noticed a change in her.  Prior to the fox attack, she was an aloof hen, but has become more friendly, approaching me when I go out to the coop and often walking between my legs, letting her feathers brush against them on the way through.  I don’t pretend to know what a chicken “thinks” but it really does feel that she understands how much I tried to help her.

It often feels hopeless nursing an injured animal who has given up, and I well know the frustration of trying, only to lose them anyway.  I hope this survival story will provide hope to anyone with an injured bird, that, fragile as they sometimes seem, it IS possible for them to recover from a serious injury.  At the time of writing, it has been 16 months since she was attacked, and she is now almost three years old, but this hen is still a part of my flock, who lays a lovely dark brown egg 3-4 times a week.

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2 thoughts on “A Fox Attack Survival Story

  1. I would like to say that I had a similar experience – a fox got in to the run, killed 3 of my chooks and seriously injured the other 3 before I could get over there & get rid of him. One chicken was barely breathing, not moving at all, I wrapped it in a towel and brought it indoors to see out the final minutes. Another was bleeding out of the ear and not moving, the third couldn’t stand and I assumed broken leg/s. The towel wrapped chicken kept on breathing, slowly. I had to go out on the school run and when I got back it was still alive. After a while it started to take tiny amounts of water. I’d put the other two in the henhouse. I had some chicks at the time so I gave all three chick crumb and they responded to that better than their own feed. After a couple of days I put a rabbit hutch in the run so that they could be outside but still sheltered. The towel wrapped one was moving about OK by then, legs couldn’t take weight and ear clearly had hearing and seeing issues on one side and was struggling to coordinate to eat. I worried all the time that I was being cruel and should just put them out of their miseries, but couldn’t stop hoping. After a week or so legs started hobbling. Then limping. I knew they were going to make it but still felt amazed they had been so badly injured. I thought they would probably always be disabled. But I was wrong about that too. Within a couple of months, there were no signs of any injuries. No limping, no coordination issues, no infections, nothing, just three strong and healthy chickens, who are still doing brilliantly a year on.

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