Let’s get the ugly truth out of the way immediately: there is no such thing as a perfect system for protecting your yard or urban farm from critters. Raccoons, possums, weasels, rats, hawks, owls, deer, coyotes, they are all out there looking for a hole in your perimeter defenses, and given enough time they will find it.
That’s the bad news!
Depending on where you live, there may not be any good news.
Sorry about that!
Oh, sure, you could spend thousands of dollars surrounding your property with electric fence, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that within days one of the aforementioned invaders will find a way through your fencing. There are times I believe that’s the only reason they exist.
So, the best we can do is the best we can do according to our budgets and vigilance.
Let me tell you a few things we’ve done. None of it is perfect but it is what it is….a deterrent.
FIRST, WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Chicken fencing is adequate if all you want to stop are birds of prey and deer. Other than that you are taking your chances and hoping your luck holds out. A determined raccoon can tear apart chicken wire. A weasel can go through it.
Poultry netting….don’t bother. It will keep chickens in and nothing out.
WHAT WORKS WITH DEGREES OF SUCCESS
First up is hardware cloth. I’ve spoken about this before. Three-foot wide, ½ inch hardware cloth costs about a buck a foot. Four-foot wide cloth costs about $1.50 per foot. It’s worth the cost. Raccoons cannot get through it. Weasels can’t get through it. Possums can’t get through it. Dogs can’t get through it. The only way it won’t work is if you don’t secure it to your wooden posts. Loose staples can be pulled out, and it takes a hole about two inches in diameter for a weasel to get through, so make sure you’ve done your job well if using hardware cloth.
Electric fencing works well for larger animals. It won’t stop weasels, and if you do a poor job of setting up your fence, it won’t stop anything. Overhanging branches are an invitation to raccoons to drop into your yard and bypass the electric fence. Strands of fencing too high off the ground, or spaced too far apart, are also easy to breech. The other problem with electric fencing is the expense of buying it and constantly running the electricity through it. We have electric fencing but we don’t use it because of the expense.
Cages are adequate but we don’t believe in them. We like our animals to have as much free-range as possible…which means we run the risk of losing some of them.
THE WORD OF EXPERIENCE
We’ve lost our share of quail to critters. It was our fault that it happened. We underestimated the determination of a hungry predator. We don’t do that again. We have never lost a chicken. Early on we listened to advice and got it right. My word of advice: spend the extra money when you first set up your urban farm. It will pay dividends in the long run.
Any questions? You know how to find me.