The Name’s Jerome, Gypsy and Jerome
If you have grown up feasting on the stories from Roahl Dahl, you’ll know that the clever Mr Fox loves a chicken. You’ll also know the clever Mr Fox, is a clever trickster and will try everything he can to get into the chicken houses. Whilst we’re as far removed from Mr Boggis as you can possibly be (we most definitely do NOT eat “… three boiled chickens smothered with dumplings every day for breakfast, lunch and supper.”) we do still have the same battles with the clever Mr Fox as Boggis Bunce and Bean.
Having so many chickens and ducks on the farm we were finding that we were a natural target for the foxes in the neighbourhood, and we were losing chickens, and those that were left were nervous and unhappy and it was affecting their scratching and egg laying. We were very concerned, as you know having a happy chicken and a happy duck makes a happy farmer.
Ah Gypsy and Jerome we’ve been waiting for you
Always on the lookout for natural and eco-friendly alternatives we introduced our alpacas Gypsy and Jerome to the chickens on Regan Farm. An odd choice you may think – but it turned out to be the right one for us. Whilst they are disguised as another cute farm animal for our visitors to call in on – they are part of Regan Farm Secret Service, always on the look out for foxes and courageously protecting our chickens and ducks from attack.
How it works
Here’s the science bit. Back in their native South America baby or weak alpacas are picked off by foxes, and as a result the alpacas have a very healthy dislike of foxes (and other rogue canines) bred into their instincts. They will work as a team to chase off any foxes found on their patch and anywhere near their herd.
A neutered male alpaca, a Wether, has no interest in breeding and will spend all his energy protecting his herd, they will happily accept flocks chickens, ducks and herds of sheep as ‘their’ herd. As a prey animal themselves they are always alert, have amazing hearing and are fast, very fast. They can easily outrun a fox and will give chase making unique growling noises and spitting. If they manage to corner a fox, they will kick out at it with their front legs; happily, we’ve never seen that happen. Often the smell of alpacas in the vicinity will keep foxes away, and we have found that to be the case here.
Visiting with Gypsy and Gerome
Our boys, Gypsy and Jerome, claimed our flock of chickens as their own herd and have been guarding them since we introduced them to Regan Farm in 2017. They aren’t aggressive, so if you do visit our farm and see Gypsy and Jerome they won’t spit at you, but they aren’t overly fond of being touched either, and much prefer to be admired from afar.