Barbed wire just isn't enough.
February 22, 2012 3:22 PM   Subscribe

What is the cheapest way to build a lot of wall or fence to keep predators at bay?

I live on a large bit of land out in the country. I have pets -- too many to live indoors -- and the smallest keep disappearing. There are two distinct packs of coyotes in the area that "invade" my place. We've seen them in the early mornings.

I have a barbed wire fence around most of my land, as it used to be a pasture. What can I add to it -- or build anew -- that is affordable, and will keep the coyotes off my land? I have about a mile of borders to protect.
posted by ThisKindNepenthe to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
What kind of shape is the fence in? How high? How many rows of wire? Coyotes will burrow under a fence or leap it, if it's low enough.

Also...I wouldn't blame the coyotes for all of the disappearances. Cats and small dogs are quite often nabbed from the air. There isn't much you can do about that, I'm afraid.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:33 PM on February 22, 2012

I would not think that there is an "affordable" way to put up a mile of fence that would be coyote proof, unless your idea of "affordable" is very different than mine. I don't think you could secure it from canines with anything less than a six foot chain link fence that is buried about a foot or two into the ground.. Remember, it not only has to keep the larger animals out, but it has to keep the smaller animals IN. Cats can get through very tiny spaces.

Your answer probably lies in only keeping pets that you can keep safe in the house.
posted by HuronBob at 3:41 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Might be cheaper to consider how you can get those pets enclosed. Sheds? Henhouse-type accommodations? Or smaller areas that can be fenced more thoroughly?
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:55 PM on February 22, 2012

In the last few years coyotes have become prevalent in our area. Folk who have a little land with animals to protect, get either a Great Pyrenees, a donkey, or a llama. Rumor has it that these animals won't tolerate coyotes at all. The cats however, don't know about them. However, if pups are raised with cats they do pretty well, so a Great Pyrenees might be your best bet.
posted by PJMoore at 4:32 PM on February 22, 2012

Why not fence an area closer to your house, instead of the entire property? That's how most rural people I know do it.

coyotes can climb wire fences, so you have to put extenders on them. They also dig, so you have to go down into the ground. You can also use electric fences, which are cheaper. There's information on various anti-coyote fencing types here. It's under "Exclusion".
posted by oneirodynia at 4:34 PM on February 22, 2012

Yeah, I've heard donkeys are a great way to keep the coyotoes in line. I don't know what the cost of one would be compared to fencing in a yard though.
posted by murkywaters at 4:34 PM on February 22, 2012

I am familiar with both protection and predators in desolate places.

The fence is not the answer - what you need is a lasting deterrent. The answer is to keep the coyotes away.

They are opportunistic - they will respond to potential threats and difficulties by leaving that part of the land alone. If you can catch them nearby, fire off a shotgun near them. Repeated, they will reduce their visits. You can also electrify parts of your fence, just as a deterrent. Spray predator pee; they will avoid the scent of competition (wolf, mountain lion).

Just know that you are in the country, you can only do so much. But, you can certainly reduce the challenge.
posted by Kruger5 at 4:40 PM on February 22, 2012

I live in an area with plenty of coyotes (and foxes and birds of prey and skunks and badgers and raccoons) and I have plenty of tasty, tasty critters. We have only ever lost one animal, a rooster, to a huge barn owl, and I would gladly raise another for Mr. Owl's dinner, as he was beautiful (and the rooster was a PITA.)

We solve the predator problem by putting in all the vulnerable prey animals at night. They come into the house or go into the shed or coop or barn and all is well.

The other thing that helps is to have plenty of hide-holes, shrubs, and trees. Our critters can go pretty much into or under something if they stick around the 'yard' area. If they go way out, there's plenty of sagebrush and the terrain varies. I think it also helps to have an active dog (or two) that's big enough to face off a coyote.

If you have that much acreage to go around, you'll be putting a lot of money into a fence that may or may not take care of the situation.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:12 PM on February 22, 2012

The existing fence is five-row barbed wire in good condition.

My little ones hardly ever roam beyond the fence, so I'm not so much worried about keeping them in, but keeping the coyotes out.

Last year, we also had a pair of bobcats settle on our property. We brought all but the big dog indoors, and they left after a few days, but let me tell you, there were too many animals inside!

I do have that big dog (half rottweiler) but somehow, they aren't afraid of him anymore.

I know that pets disappearing is a part of rural life, but I don't want them to be an all-you-can-eat buffet.
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 5:01 AM on February 23, 2012

Oh, and one other reason I really want to keep the coyotes at bay: They've chewed my drip irrigation lines to death this winter. I really don't want to replace those every year.
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 5:09 AM on February 23, 2012

The nice thing about canines is that they lead with their noses. Their tender, wet, and oh-so-sensitive noses. This makes electric fence a *very* effective deterrent.

I've been running poultry behind electric mesh fences for three years now and have yet to lose a bird that stayed within the fence, even when the coyotes spent all night circling and yipping around the fence. Electric mesh isn't an option for a mile of fencing though.

The cheapest option for you is a pair of offset hot lines at about 8" and 20" off the ground, give or take, on the outside of the fence. I think high tensile is a bit cheaper that polytape or polytwine, but it requires greater tension and is thus more work to set up. It lasts much, much longer though. Power it with a fence charger like this one and you're in business. The downside? You'll need to manage grass growth around the fence to keep it from shorting out.

The best option for you, it looks like, is electric high tensile. It's physically very sturdy but is mostly a pain barrier, so it can be held up with very cheap lightweight posts in between widely spaced heavy posts. A friend of mine is actively tearing down his wire mesh to replace it with seven-strand high-tensile on his five-acre farm and put up only high tensile on his 40-acre farm. And he raises goats.

Depending on where the existing fence is compared to the property line, you might be able to set up a "moat" with hot high tensile 3-4' in front of the existing barbed wire. This will be a powerful disincentive to a critter jumping the fence if they can see that there are two fences. The downside to a double fence is that some poor animal might jump the barbed wire and get caught between the electric and the barbed fence and tear itself to pieces. Barbed wire is falling out of fashion around here (small acreages!) for just that reason.

I hear good things about LGDs and attack llamas for sheep and similar, but I don't know if they'd bond appropriately with what I assume are cats and small dogs.
posted by stet at 6:28 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

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