Fox farms should be situated on ground where adequate drainage can be maintained and carefully situated to take account of local environmental conditions. The possibility of subsequent development of the farm should be considered.
- Slightly sloping land with good natural drainage and minimal risk of flooding form the ideal site for a fox farm. Safe and efficient disposal of effluent is vital in preventing unpleasant conditions, i.e., pollution of neighboring streams or rivers, adjacent properties, etc.
- A supply of clean water is necessary for watering systems, as well as for cleanliness in the feed preparation areas.
- Electricity is in almost all cases essential to power the range of equipment and machinery used on the modern fox farm.
- Fox farms should be located with regard to availability and convenience of sources of feed supplies.
- The fox farm site needs a suitable access road.
- It is advisable to locate farms away from noisy environments such as quarry blasting, flight paths or low-flying aircraft. Any buffer zone separating the animal cage areas from surrounding activities is very helpful to the welfare of the animal.
- A perimeter fence of approximately six feet in height should enclose the fox yard. Mesh size of two inches by four inches is suitable, and should be buried at the base, about six to seven inches. It is also recommended that the top twelve to eighteen inches of the perimeter fence be inclined into the yard to prevent climbing.
Any building erected to house fox must permit clean, airy, hygienic conditions, and at the same time afford protection from the elements.There are almost as many furring shed designs as there are fox ranchers, therefore it is recommended that the rancher visit several ranches or farms and inspect their designs for adaptation to his needs.
- Sheds may be erected specifically to house stock kept for breeding or pelting, or for a combination of both.
- Sheds can be constructed to hold any number of rows, provided air quality and management standards are met.
- Fox should be kept in housing or sheds that will give them adequate protection from the elements.
- Roofing can be constructed from a number of materials including galvanized metal, corrugated iron or aluminum sheeting.
- Consideration should be given to the direction of construction of sheds to afford maximum adaptability to the site location.
- Paths or passageways between rows of pens should allow sufficient space to operate feed carts and automatic feeders, and to allow access for cleaning.
- Adequate drainage for the disposal of effluent from the feed preparation areas is essential if feed is prepared on the farm.
- Good working conditions allow for more efficient care of the animal.
Fox pens must provide sufficient area for the animals to exercise, to defecate and, in the case of breeding pens, to rear young. A nesting area must be incorporated in breeding pens in which the fox can rest and sleep comfortably.
- Pens should be durably constructed to keep the fox in the enclosure. Pens should be of sufficient height to allow the feces to fall to the ground beneath and subsequently to allow easy cleaning of manure. An arbitrary height of thirty (30) inches above ground level has proven workable.
- Cages should be of sufficient size to promote the general welfare of the animal. It is recommended that furring pens have a floor area of not less than six and a half (6.5) square feet and a height of not less than two (2) feet. Breeder pens should have a floor area of not less than eight (8) square feet and a height of not less than two (2) feet with an external nest box to house one female and her young. If a breeder pen is used to house an adult pair of fox, the breeder pen should have a floor area of not less than fourteen (14) square feet and a height of not less than two (2) feet.
- The breeding pen should be suitable to house one mother and her litter until weaning, and then the young fox until separated.
- All pens should have suitable access for the farmer to easily catch and inspect the fox. The bottoms of the cages may be constructed of one inch by one and one-half inch (1″ x 1.5″) or one inch by one inch (1″ x 1″) galvanized, or vinyl coated wire mesh. This will permit most of the droppings to fall to the ground and the young will quickly learn to walk on this size without their feet slipping through.
- In every pen, a water tray, trough, bowl, or automatic nipple must be available so as to permit easy access by the fox, and inspection and cleaning as required.
- Recent studies have also indicated that digging plates placed on cage floor and cage wall are beneficial for foxes. Learn more about the welfare implications of digging substrates for foxes in captivity.
- Each breeding/whelping pen requires a sound, weather-proof nest box. Again, there are many designs for such boxes and the rancher should investigate these in order to find the design that best fits his and his animals’ needs.
- A suitable warm, dry nest sufficient to house the fox should be attached or incorporated into every breeding/whelping pen. it should be designed to permit easy cleaning and inspection, along with the addition of nesting material.
- Nesting boxes should be designed to provide sufficient space for the whelping vixen to bear her young, keep them warm, dry, and comfortable.
- Special care should be taken to avoid projections into the nesting area which could cause the fox suffering, discomfort, or injury.
- Just prior to whelping, nesting material suitable for warmth, and dryness should be provided within the nest box.
- For purposes of sanitation it is advisable to keep feces out of the nest box to the maximum practicable degree. Clean and change bedding as soon as the off-spring become large enough to move about. This could be within two weeks of birth.