FRIENDLY FENCING

 
 

Wildlife Friendly Fencing is fencing that is safe and effective for wildlife, people and livestock. It

  1. does not entangle or harm wildlife

  2. allows the appropriate free movement  of wildlife across rural and urban landscapes

  3. may mean no fence at all


  1. Friendly Fencing - plain wire

  2. Friendly Fencing - split polypipe

  3. Friendly Fencing - electric fencing
    Friendly Fencing - virtual fencing

  4. Friendly Fencing - nylon wires

  5. Friendly Fencing - other ideas

  6. Friendly Fencing - improving visibility

  7. Friendly Fencing - over water

  8. Friendly Fencing - rollers

  9. Friendly Fencing - projects



An accident waiting to happen. Native plants that blossom well and produce
lots of nectar will attract flying foxes. Never plant them near barbed wire.
Better to plant low shrubs, or tall fast growing trees that will produce blossom
well above the height of the fence. Or better still, remove the barbed wire.


Expert advice for this section of the website comes from a 1994/95/96 publication of the Kondinin Group called "Wires and Pliers'. The manual is out of print but will be available later in 2007 on dvd. The information is based on a 1993 survey of 3879 farmers by the Kondinin Group though Farming Ahead and Wool News. All information placed within '' '' is directly quoted from ‘Wires and Pliers'.

The Kondinin Group is a not-for-profit farmer owned and directed organisation that is helping farmers manage sustainable enterprises through the effective use of knowledge. The Group is driven by 10,000 farmer members across the country and aims to improve agriculture by sharing reliable and practical information.

The Kondinin survey found that " barbed wire fences are a small section of the overall Australian fencing market, but are a large section of the Queensland market ....... 50% of Australian farmers did not use barbed wire in their last fence."

"Put most simply, an effective fence is one which is high enough to prevent animals bearing down on it, flexible enough with a mesh of wires to prevent them putting their heads through it, and close enough to the ground to prevent them pushing underneath...... Good stock control is possible without the use of barbed wire."

" 58% of respondents to the survey are still firmly entrenched in using the same type of fence as their fathers. Fencers become used to one type of wire , tools are designed to suit it, its behaviour is understood and working it becomes routine. A change of any sort brings problems at first and this applies to a change from mild steel or barbed wire to HT wire."

HORSES
"Horse fencing requirements are frequently overlooked as people place this class of livestock in paddocks designed to accommodate sheep or cattle. Electric fencing is an inexpensive yet highly effective method of controlling horses especially when combined with the new types of electrified tapes and rope which are available in a variety of colours.
When using electric fencing, stand off insulators are a useful way of carrying and insulating the tape, rope or wire. These also keep the animals away from old existing fences which could cause injury. It is most important not to use barbed wire in any electric fencing especially where horses are concerned. Animals can become caught on the fence, panic and injure themselves.
It is suggested a sighter wire be used instead of a top plain wire to help the horse see the fence when it is running around in the paddock. Horse paddocks should be completely free from unused portions of wire especially barbed wire. These can wrap around and entangle a horse causing nasty cuts. Horses caught in barbed wire will tend to try and fight their way out. This increases the level of damage to the horse and the cost of the vet’s bill.
A suitable fencing option for safe horse control is to use a combination of electrified tapes along with sighter wires and plain or prefabricated fencing.

SHEEP

CATTLE
" If cattle are leaning over the top of the fence, then quite clearly the fence is not high enough. Cattle fences should be at least 1.2 m off the ground and with some breeds it may be better to erect an even higher fence. Barbed wire on the top of a fence cannot be relied on to hold cattle off the fence. Humans have a thin sensitive skin, and feel the prick of the barb easily, but cattle have a much thinker skin. Cattle may even use the fence as a scratching instrument, putting unnecessary strain on the fence and lowering the value of the hide."

There have been no studies on the relative wildlife-friendliness of different types of fencing, though from experience we do know:
1. 86% of wildlife entangled on barbed wire are caught on the top strand.
2. Fences that are new, on ridge lines, near feeding trees, or over water are more often reported as entangling bats.


Photo: Jenny Maclean 2 Little Red flying foxes caught on a fence about 100 metres upstream from the colony.


We also have very little information about visual deterrents, apart from anecdotal accounts of success in a few instances and the theory that if we can make fences more visible animals will avoid them. Visibility markers need to be harmless to livestock, cheap, easy to put on fences, durable, visible and if possible audible in windy conditions.

It will be difficult to evaluate WFF modifications where there is no accurate history of entanglements prior to modification. How to decide which fences to modify? We’d suggest prioritizing in this order:
1. Any fence with a known history of entanglement
2. Any new fence
3. Any fence in a recognised hotspot ie. over water, on ridge lines, near feed trees
Read the case studies and go to WFF Guidelines for ideas on how to assess your individual situation.

 

We welcome your ideas on wildlife friendly fencing (WFF), especially if you are landowners with fencing responsibilities. We are looking for case studies that demonstrate which WFF methods work and don’t work to contain cattle, sheep and other livestock in various landscapes.