Electric fences for foxesB
During July and August, foxes can be a real problem for poultry keepers. Adults start to distance themselves from their increasingly independent offspring, and family groups break up over the course of a few weeks. As they start to find their way in the world, young foxes often come into direct conflict with humans, and poultry keepers may find that their defences are really put to the test as summer begins to wind down.
Young foxes may look like identical versions of their parents, but they have none of the adult’s acquired cunning. If they find your birds feeding in the open, they will often charge straight in and embark upon a killing frenzy. There is no strategy or planning to their behaviour, and people are often surprised by how bold and brave summer foxes can be. In fact, this is not boldness or bravery, but naivete and ignorance. They simply don’t know that they are not welcome in your hen runs and chicken coops, and your first priority should be to teach them.
Many people use visual deterrents to prevent foxes from coming too close to their hens. Hanging bottles of water or compact discs around a hen run will certainly unsettle passing predators, but it’s important to remember that these will only work until the fox realises that they are harmless. Move them around periodically so that they turn up in unexpected places and the foxes will be kept on the hop. Various expensive items are available for sale online which claim to harmlessly terrify foxes out of the vicinity altogether, but having tried and tested many of them, it is quite clear to see that CDs and water bottles are an equally efficient and far more economical means of scaring foxes.
Electric fences are extremely important for poultry keepers, particularly in places where foxes are well established. There is a huge variety of different products on the market, from easy to assemble Electric Netting Kits to traditional permanent galvanised steel wires, which can be powered by mains electricity, batteries or solar panels. The spread of equipment is vast, and it is not hard to get confused and put off by the supposed complexity of electric fencing. The best advice is to choose something that suits you and your circumstances. What might suit your neighbour may be useless for you, and size, location and terrain all have a great bearing on the efficiency of electric fences.
It is important to remember that you will need to put some work into preparing the ground for an electric fence. If the wires touch grass or vegetation, power will be lost and the fence will be weakened. It is a good idea to spray the track of an electric fence with weedkiller a few weeks before setting up, and any resurging natural foliage can be kept down with a strimmer afterwards. Poultry nets will inevitably lose some power, but the shorter the grass is around the perimeter, the less you will have to worry about wasting electricity.
Some people avoid electric fences because they are worried that their birds will be shocked by the wires, but this is not a problem. Feathers are natural insulators, and the only danger posed by an electric fence is to predators who have no legitimate business being there in the first place.
It is widely held that if a fox is struck by the high voltage discharge from an electric fence, it will never come back. This is largely true, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Remember that when it is shocked, the fox will have no idea what has happened. Out of nowhere, it will be smacked with an electric shock, and it will probably associate that unpleasantness with where it took place. As a result, it will take active steps to avoid spending time in a place that it believes is unpredictable and hair raising (quite literally).
However, there is some evidence to suggest that foxes learn about electric fences. Having been shocked once, some animals appear to know that the electric wire was responsible, and while they obviously don’t understand the physics of what has happened, they know that they can avoid the shock by avoiding the wire. These foxes are trickier customers, and they take some countering. The delectable prospect of dining out on your birds encourages them to come up with new ways of slipping through your defences rather than abandoning hope altogether.
If you’re using wires or polywires rather than nets, it is easy to design some simple arrangements whereby multiple strands become totally impenetrable to a fox. By using Stand Off Insulators of varying lengths, you can set up wires which zig zag three dimensionally back and forth around a foot off the ground, making a formidable barrier that will even baffle a fox which has had a run in with an electric fence before.
Electric fences are an important and valuable way of keeping foxes away from your pens, and time spent researching which equipment will suit you and your birds is never time wasted.
Solway Feeders has been manufacturing and designing poultry keeping products for the past twenty years. Our range of electric fencing products is sure to be suitable for any location, and we also stock a variety of products which are perfect for newcomers and first time poultry keepers.