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Defend against deer with a 3-D fence

When tried and true methods just don’t work, a 3-D fence can keep deer out

3-D fence graphic

With the increasing number of grain bags in the countryside, deer have learned that there is a feast waiting for them in grain bags. Once a bag is opened, other animals join the buffet. Never mind what gets eaten, but storage losses from moisture entering the bags, excreta, downgrading factors and foreign material add up in a hurry.

Scare crows, boom cannons, and other deterrents have been tried, but none seem to work effectively over time.

One option is to create a 3-D fence around the grain bags. This will create a physical barrier around the bags to keep animals from sneaking through and starting to damage the bag. Deer are excellent at seeing in two dimensions at long range. At close range, their depth perception is diminished. The key is to set up two electric fence wires, one hot, one grounded or hot and then a separate hot wire about 30 to 36 inches (75 cm to 1 metre) outside of the two wire fence. On the inside fence, the top hot wire should be about 24 to 30 inches (60 to 90 cm) off the ground, while the lower wire should be around 10 to 14 inches (25 to 35 cm) off the ground. The second fence, the wire should be between the other two wires for height, say 18 to 22 inches (45 to 55 cm) high.

Gallagher Fencing has two products, B10 and B11 Energizer that runs on six ‘D’ batteries, which lasts for three months, or a 12 V battery. It will energize just over a half mile (one km) of fence. The key is to have a good ground, so having a three foot galvanized ground rod into the ground before freeze up would be advantageous. Using fibreglass posts or rebar and screw-on rod insulators would give the most flexibility of creating the fence. As the snow gets deeper, the insulators can be moved up the post to maintain proper ground clearance to keep the animals out.

The wire

For the wire, there are options.

Wire is ugly to handle, but it transmits electricity the best. Wire is usually used in more permanent situations.

Polywire can work well and is easy to work with. It can be ordered on a reel, so when you need it, unroll what you need, when you are done, wind it up. The problem with it is, like wire, is hard to see so without extra flagging on it, someone might drive through it.

Tape is another option. It is visible and like polywire, rolls nicely. The issue is that when it flaps in the wind it may wear and short out.

Going to a rope type gives a longer life (about 25 years), still is nicer to handle than wire. Visibility is still relatively low for vehicles so it should be flagged. The other negative, it is bulkier than the tape or polywire so the reel will be larger for the rope.

Once it is up, as long as electricity is flowing through, it should keep animals out. If smaller animals are getting through and creating damage, add another hot or ground wire on the inside fence, giving you a least two hot wires. Having something conductive flapping on the fence will bring in the curious animals to sniff it. Once the nose touches, their appetite disappears, and they have a good memory. As for ravens and other birds, there is netting used for berry farms, electrical poultry nets, all creating more work.

This is another way to try to protect your grain piles. It will work for other things that you want to protect, like shelter belts, fruit trees, and hay bales. It is a cost effective and flexible system to control animals.

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