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Electric Fox Fencing
Prevent predatory foxes from killing your Free-range poultry.
Without destroying the Fox
Electric fencing has been extensively used in wildlife conservation and has been particularly effective in ground-nesting Plover and Tern breeding sites around the world where foxes predate on the nests extremely heavily.
Beacon Lagoons Nature Reserve Easington, East Yorkshire. Study on Fox predation on Lesser Tern Colony,
"Tracks and scats of the foxes were first noticed near the colony on 28th. May, and almost daily thereafter. On 18, 19, and 20th. June, observers recorded that the incubating terns seemed "skittish, nervous and uneasy." This phenomenon was first thought to be associated with hatching but no chicks were noted. Nest numbers decreased from 138 to 129 on 20th. June, to 61 on 22nd. June. By 23rd. June only 45 tern nests remained. Fox tracks crisscrossed the colony.
On 24th. June the electric fence was erected. On 25th. June we noted a slight increase to 48 nests; a week later, 2nd. July, we counted 60 nests, and by 6th. July, 85 nests. Fresh fox tracks were seen near the colony but no tracks were found in the trial area. New nests outside the fence were consistently taken by the Foxes - none survived."
"Once again an electric fence was erected around the main breeding area. This is to protect against terrestrial predators such as foxes. No Little Tern losses were thought to occur through terrestrial predators. This was thought to be a direct result of the electric fence."
Hull University completed a study in 2008 on the new 125m (410ft) turbine at the Croda Europe plant in Hull assessing the effect these large wind turbines have on the wildlife. The fear is that birds are flying into the spinning blades. Initial assessments were not considered successful even if no dead or injured birds were found below the turbines as fox spoor was prevalent. The assumption was that these foxes were picking up any birds struck by the blades. A fence was subsequently erected.
"No evidence of fox prints at all were found whilst the fence was up and operational, the ground was soft for the majority of the study (sometimes frozen, however), and so I would assume that tracks would have been easily visible. Before the erection of the fence, the site was covered in fox spoor and so the fence has appeared to certainly deter if not eliminate the foxes entirely from the area within the fence." Anna Phelps.B.Sc (Hons), M.Sc. Researcher
There is only one thing that will stop a fox dead..it comes out the end of a gun!
There is no cheaper or better combination. The availability of electric fencing has transformed free-range poultry keeping. It is arguable that without it, the keeping of extensive commercial flocks would never have happened.
Electric fencing is extremely portable and versatile; it may be used on its own for both permanent and temporary fencing and has been used around the world to control every mammal in some guise or other. It is cheaper, easier to erect, more effective and far safer than a barbed wire and is a fraction of the cost of a fox-proof wire mesh fence.
Permanent electric boundary fence lines should be constructed from four strands of solid hotShock Mixal electrical wire on insulated poles spaced at intervals suitable for foxes. Domestic stock is easily controlled but predators are quite a different situation. In the search for food, they have to overcome different obstacles and the most difficult is fear of humans. Even a shock from a sub-standard electric fence is not too big problem for a mother feeding her young, hungry, wounded or old predator to crawl or jump through the fence. A carnivore has to learn to respect an electric fence and the operational efficiency must be high for electric fencing to repel the carnivore penetration. If a fence lacks operational efficiency then animals will soon be de-sensitised overcome their "fear of the fence" and it may take several weeks of training to re-block them. A fox does not burrow under an effective Electric fence nor jump over it due to the psychological imprint created. A range of hotShock energisers have been developed to counter this problem. They run at a higher voltage than standard energizers so are very effective at controlling both poultry and foxes
Trial to Verify the Effectiveness of various Electric Fox Fences has been done to assess which may be superior without much difference being seen between the two types although baiting the fence was seen to be an effective tool in training the fox to respect the fence.
Lightweight electric poultry netting is available, that can be dismantled, bundled up and re-erected further on. It is effective at allowing poultry access to specific grazing areas, as well as excluding a fox. The netting is made of polyethene and stainless steel conducting twine and is erected with support poles and ground spikes. When taking a net down, do not try and roll it up, this causes a mess. Simply gather the posts together allowing the nets to fold against themselves.
An adequately designed and constructed electric fence works by the combination of a weak physical barrier (the fence) and a strong psychological imprint (the 6000v sting) created in the mind of the animal. An energizer attached to the fence wires produces a short but painful sting when touched by the animal, similar to a sharp "thwack" from a riding crop. The low amperage (15-100mA) and short duration (about 1/300th. of a second) results in a sharp but safe sting that then creates a psychological barrier that the animal associates with the fence and discourages it from touching again. Fortunately, it only takes one or two animals to be affected and the rest will copy these, called "Socially Conditioned Avoidance"
Majority of Electric fence problems arise from 2 sources, the energizer was inadequate to start with or the underground post being incorrect. Sort those two out and you should have good results. If a good fence is installed and a few criteria are adhered to, the maintenance on an electric fence may be LESS than other fences
A "wimpy" fence energizer gives you a wimpy fence. Animals will think a fence is a joke without a strong bite and they'll walk right through it. Please buy one that puts out lots of power. During a wet year, you may have lots of plant growth touching the wires. That's when you will need extra oomph to power through the heavy, wet vegetation. Better quality energizers will burn off a fair amount of casual vegetation and assist in maintaining a good fence, but this should not be counted on to maintain your fence. Electric netting is very resource hungry in itself so more powerful 12v or mains energizers are required. A 9v energizer will only run 1 net at best.
A rusty piece of metal buried a few inches underground is not an adequate earth post. Rust is not a good conductor and the long-term chemical reactions between the soil and metal result in the majority of problems. 12v systems and above require an earth post at least 1m long driven into wet soil to be totally efficient. The more soil/metal contact that can be achieved, the better.
Wildlife on Line has more information on the safe exclusion of Foxes.