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The Fence Post

Using Llamas for Protection

February 12, 2021 | by Joe Morrell

Llama behind fence

Protecting your Herd

A llama provides an imposing and somewhat foreign presence in the modern farmyard. They have an odd, disarming call that keeps predators at bay and sounds an alarm for your benefit--and for your herd's. In terms of protection, this is reason enough, yet this is only the beginning of their impressive credentials. 

Vigilant

Ranchers are overwhelmingly positive about keeping llamas, chiefly in economic terms: loss to predation is dramatically reduced, particularly for sheep farmers.

Llamas are naturally suspicious of and aggressive to dogs, foxes, coyotes, and wolves.

They appear threatening, have unique methods of defense, and are able to kill these powerful predators. The best specimens for guarding pastures are gelded males or females that have been bred and become protective. An open, fenced pasture is preferred, as hilly terrain can result in the llamas being separated from the herd, reducing protection. Llamas like to have the long view.

High Alert

You will find that their awareness of potential invaders is acute. They're constantly checking the periphery of your fenced area. Scan through this video and watch just a bit to see how alert a llama is while it surveys the area:

 

Behavior

Llamas make a welcome companion to your herd as they integrate with pasture animals naturally and in many cases simply become one of the herd. They are very tolerant of their field companions, working well with cows, sheep, goats, and poultry. One llama will bond with sheep; however, two or more llamas will sometimes bond with each other and possibly ignore the sheep, though not always.  They can be particularly attentive to lambs and particularly attentive to newborns. Ranchers generally report that their predation problems are completely or substantially eliminated.

 

Llamas are not aggressive and are generally docile; often liking to keep a few feet of distance but not threatened by humans. They may spit when provoked. Their spitting is unpleasant, more like a regurgitation, but much more rare than thought, usually reserved for an extreme threat and rarely done to their near and dears--meaning you. Respect their need for distance or they may throw a sideways kick to warn you off. 

A Few Basics

Their coat is not prized like that of an alpaca, yet do need to be sheered once a year. Also, their toenails--two on each foot--need to be trimmed every 2 to 6 months. Bred as guardian animals, they were also bred as pack animals and for pulling; llamas can carry a lot of weight and capable of traveling through rough terrain. And it may be interesting to note that they often choose one area for droppings in a field, and uniquely, these can be transferred straight onto the garden.

They beat guard dogs in these ways: 

  • No barking at night
  • Respectful of fence boundaries and not interested in escape, unlike dogs
  • They eat grass; eating hay when there's no grass--usually whatever the sheep and cows are eating--as opposed to a dog which requires its own separate and costly feeding
  • Vet bills are few compared to a dog
  • They live longer than guard dogs--15 years and up

If You're Serious

Before you buy one, check out online sources and local want ads for free llamas. Due to varying circumstances, there are often free llamas available or some that are rescues. This cattle rancher has used llamas to great benefit:

 

Creating an Enclosure

An excellent choice for your pasture is sheep and goat fence, featuring woven 4" x 4" mesh. Made with 12½ gauge high tensile Class 3 galvanized wire for extra long life and rust resistance. Designed with goats and sheep in mind, this fence will work beautifully with the presence of a llama as it is a strong confinement fence. The 4" x 4" mesh deters sheep and goats from putting their heads through the openings. Vertical and horizontal wires are joined by strong stiff stay knots. These smooth sided knots will not injure animals and give the fence flexibility, minimizing the potential for injury. This fence will conform to hilly terrain, thanks to deeply crimped horizontal wires. Consider Farm and Field Fence, Deer and Wildlife Fence, and Horse Fence as well, depending on your pasturing needs. Add a llama behind an excellent fence and enjoy the enhanced security for your flock and your peace of mind. 

llama in field

Sheep and Goat Fence

 

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Topics: field fence, fixed knot, deer and wildlife fence, woven wire mesh

Protection from Coyotes

January 11, 2021 | by Joe Morrell

Coyote Makes a Quick Exit 

 

As more undeveloped land is taken for housing lots and commercial areas, the natural habitat for wildlife gets increasingly restricted. Sightings of animals such as coyotes and deer are more frequent. Coyotes have adapted to the modern landscape in unique ways, especially now with their main predators such as wolves out of the way. Generally content to stay out of sight, a hungry coyote may make an appearance. They are resilient and their numbers are increasing in some areas despite efforts to control them. Closer at hand than one realizes, they create dens in forested areas, parks, and greenbelts; however, coyote attacks are actually rare and often linked to being fed by humans.

coyote head in profile with snow in background

Coyotes are powerful and stealthy, yet there are strategies for avoiding dangerous interactions with them. If the presence of coyotes is an issue in your area and cause for concern, one of the best ways to stay safe is to build a wire fence. To protect against coyotes, it is best to use a six to eight-foot height. You can either bury 12 inches in the ground or bend it so it lays on top of the ground to the outside of the enclosure as an apron. This will discourage digging.

There are many choices of welded wire fencing and woven wire fencing meshes available:

Welded wire fencing - Galvanized Before Weld (GBW), Galvanized After Weld (GAW) and Vinyl Coated (VC) 

  • 14 gauge, 1" x 2" and 2" x 4" mesh
  • 12.5 gauge, 2" x 4" mesh
Woven wire fencing 

Here is an in-depth report on the increase and behavior of coyotes in cities and suburbs:

Welded Wire Mesh

For more about fencing out coyotes and other potentially aggressive animals, check out this blog.

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Topics: welded wire mesh, galvanized after, galvanized before, deer and wildlife fence, vinyl coated mesh

Protecting Trees from Rutting Bucks

November 4, 2020 | by Joe Morrell

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Bucks and Antlers

During the rut, between late September through November, a buck is after a doe. He advertises his desire by rubbing the summer-grown velvet off his antlers, thereby leaving his scent and establishing his territory, communicating his dominance over rivals with the hope that a doe will take notice. A buck will also rub the glands of his face and underside onto trees and branches. Not only do the bucks rub the trees, but they hit the trees noisily to announce their presence. Trees take another hit as rubbing occurs in late winter as the bucks seek to shed their antlers

rut tree

The Damages

The ravages to a tree from a rutting buck will start at about a foot off the ground up to 5 feet generally and a considerable amount of destruction can happen within the first 24 hours of this assault. Girdling, rubbing the bark layer off around the circumference of the tree will ultimately kill the tree, whereas patches of rubbed-off bark will stress the tree. The tree will then set out to heal itself and will be weakened or possibly die on the side or sides of the tree that have been roughed up. Externally the tree will show a scar. Another type of damage occurs in winter when deer can be literally starving and will eat the lower parts of a tree, including its bark. This damage can vary from year to year depending on the length and severity of the winter. For a buck, nutrition is key to the growth of antlers, a sign to females of his strength and suitability for breeding. Once deer become established in an area, they'll return and it can be very difficult to rid them from your land.

Tree bark scarred by rutting bucks

Which trees are damaged?

Regrettably, a buck is just as likely to damage a young, vulnerable tree as he is a mature tree and its branches. A young tree is particularly threatened if the sapwood is exposed over the winter. As far as varieties go, there does seem to be a preference for fragrant species such as pine, elm, spruce, sassafras, and cedar. Other common saplings to protect (up to 5 inches in diameter) are birches, maples, lindens, and magnolias. Upon realization that your trees and plants have become a victim of deer damage, immediate action is required. 

What's that around the base of those trees? 

An excellent method of protection is to create cages for trees, particularly young trees.  Use 4 T posts and 5-foot tall heavy fencing to surround a tree (at least 5 feet in diameter), secured with Zip-ties. Galvanized or Vinyl coated wire fencing is tough and long-lasting: our 14 gauge mesh with 2" x 2" openings, and particularly our mesh with 2" x 4" openings would be excellent choices (and this size mesh would keep beavers out as well.) Remember that black vinyl-coated wire blends better into the environment than green. Sturdy fence wire is important--lightweight chicken wire could collapse onto the tree and damage the bark. Wrapping a tree with burlap or specially made papers for trees do not provide enough protection from a rutting buck. Deer repellents just don't do the job that good fence wire will do in protecting a growing tree.

These cages are to guard a small number of trees. To protect an orchard or a large number of trees, you are in need of deer and wildlife fence. Fencing out rabbits and various rodents, who eat the bark off the base of your tree can be controlled by a mesh with smaller openings. Louis Page has all kinds of blogs about fencing out deer. Just do a search on our main page for a wide variety of possibilities and the aspects you are interested in or are struggling with.  

So what is a deer destroying?

The bark on the outside of a tree can be thought of as the first line of its defense. Here is the tree's outer edge of protection from whatever elements are affecting it. Keeping moisture out, bark guards the tree against inundation but it also helps to retain moisture in periods of low precipitation or drought. Just inside this outer bark is the inner bark, a layer that manages infestations, diseases, burrowing insects, and guards the tree from cold as well. Just underneath this is a very crucial thin layer in which nutrients are passed through the tree. The inner cambium layer (xylem) passes nutrients and water up from the roots; the outer cambium layer (phloem) brings food through photosynthesis from the leaves down the tree, distributing sugars that aid growth and the creation of bark. Excess phloem makes the bark; the old xylem tissue makes the wood of the tree.

Here are some videos that will get you started protecting your trees:

 

 

Galvanized After Welded Wire Mesh\

 

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Topics: vinyl coated wire, 12.5 gauge, steel fence posts, deer and wildlife fence

Deer Fence Optics

September 22, 2020 | by Joe Morrell

2018Deerfence

Add A bit of paint and some confusion--

Avoiding damage to your property from deer is best accomplished with a sturdy, well-maintained fence. There are some unique solutions to repelling deer using fencing and we begin with the fact that black is very difficult for deer to see. A deer will not risk jumping over a fence that uses black Bezinal-coated zinc aluminum finish on the wire; it makes it very hard for them to discern the boundaries of the fence. In a single bound, deer can clear about 8 feet. The height and diameter of the black coated wire of this 7-foot fence will cause enough confusion to send them rummaging for food elsewhere. A deer's capacity for flight is prodigious and gauging a risk to its limbs is an innate skill. An injury to a leg means becoming fodder to predators. For your part, the preparation and maintenance of a deer fence must include various factors:

  • Make sure that the fence is tight to the ground to prevent the deer crawling under the fence
  • Vines that will inevitably grow on it should be cleared--the vines will eventually add definition to the fence which will aid the deer in clearing it 
  • Keeping the fence in good repair is key as deer are quick to find where the fence has been damaged
  • Gates mean access and must be kept closed before dusk

deer in misty field with trees

Dusk, Dawn, and Superior Night Vision

  • Comparing the eyes and pupils of deer to humans, a deer's are larger on both counts
  • The light gathering capacity works out to be about nine times that of human vision
  • The receptors of light in the back of a deer's eye (rods and cones) are accompanied by a reflective layer which to us appear to shine at night
  • These receptors, the rods, cones, and the light which interact to create a deer's ability to have superior night vision means that it is at final count 18 times better than human eyesight at night (for our part, the capacity for detail during the day is superior to a deer's)  

Hence, a deer's most effective vision comes particularly in low light. So, as our vision towards evening starts to dim, a deer's is just getting going. The shape of a deer's eye: more oval, maximize objects on the horizon where danger comes from rather than from above (here's a reason why hunters that are elevated above the deer's primary source of reference have an advantage.) For a deer, the light from above can distract and this is why the black 7 foot fence is enough for them to avoid the risk of not clearing it--what's above them is simply not a usual source of threat from predators. 

You'll find a black vinyl-coated hexagonal deer fence will last a long, long time. The 20-gauge galvanized wire is woven into a 1" hex mesh, galvanized and then coated with a tough, flexible, thick coating of black PVC tightly bonded to the wire. The resulting vinyl coated deer fence is very corrosion resistant. It is also extremely resistant to cracking, chipping and weathering and the inhibitors in the vinyl protect it from UV degradation. Another benefit of the black coating is how it makes the mesh blend in with the landscape.

Although the initial outlay can seem expensive, the most cost-effective plan to guard your outdoor investments is a deer fence and when considered over time, it becomes very cost-effective. 

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Topics: high tensile wire, deer fence, galvanized, deer and wildlife fence

Deer Fence - Keep Your Orchard Safe

October 3, 2013 | by Duncan Page

deer orchard fence   lg resized 600

Galvanized Wire and Fixed Knot Construction

Deer Fence featuring fixed knot construction. Each vertical stay wire is tightly wrapped around horizontal line wires making a secure barrier fence. The joint acts as a hinge that gives under pressure, then springs back into shape. The Class 1 galvanized top and bottom wires are 11 gauge. The "filler" wires are 14-1/2 gauge. Galvanized wire resists weathering and normal wear and tear.

This fence was previously known as Poultry and Garden Fence. The unique spacing of the horizontal line wires keeps predators out of orchards, vineyards and gardens. The openings of the fence are graduated - smaller at the bottom, larger at the top. Wires are spaced 1" apart at the bottom, the top spacing is 4", and the vertical stay wires are spaced at 6" intervals.

Rolls are available in three different sizes:

  • 48" x 165' - 2048-9-14.5 style
  • 60" x 165' - 2360-6-14.5 style
  • 72" x 165' - 2672-6-14.5 style

Deer and Orchard Fence - the Benefits

  • Economical galvanized fence
  • Larger 4" x 6" openings at the top
  • Smaller 1" x 6" openings at the bottom
  • Horizontal wires are crimped to allow for expansion
  • Woven construction enables fence to conform to uneven terrain
  • Ideal for keeping small critters away from where they're not wanted
  • Use for making a pen to protect rabbits, chickens and other small animals
  • Longer lifetime reduces frequency and high cost of repair and replacement

Deer and Orchard Fence - Other Uses

  • Chicken runs
  • Rabbit enclosures
  • Garden perimeter fence
  • Nuisance wild life barrier
  • Wood post and rail fence backer
  • Protect fruit trees and berries from browsing animals

Deer and Orchard Fence is effective in a variety of settings!

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Topics: deer fence, deer and wildlife fence

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