Excluding Badgers by Electric Fencing

Within Britain, badgers are particularly numerous in much of the south-west of England, and also in parts of the south-east and Wales. The Eurasian badger occupies a wide range of habitats. In Britain, numbers are highest in areas where there is a lot of old, well-grazed cattle pasture, but they also occupy mixed and arable farmland, forests, moor lands and coastal habitats such as sand dunes and cliffs. In addition, they also live in urban areas.

A large part of the badger’s diet consists of earthworms and grubs which they find in areas of short turf such as cattle pastures. In dry conditions during the summer, or in hard weather in winter, badgers may turn to gardens, Golf greens and fairways as substitute pastures, and excavate numerous holes in them as they dig for earthworms, leatherjackets, cockchafer grubs or other insect larvae. Sometimes the damage can be quite serious, with lengths of turf rolled back like carpets and left looking like giant brown and green Swiss rolls.

There are two methods of badger exclusion and both involve fencing. Firstly is the high tensile type that is highly ornate, involves burying the wire in to prevent badgers digging under and very expensive.

The next solution is to use an appropriate electric fence to give the badgers a sharp, but non-lethal “sting” on the nose if they try to get into a protected area. This can provide value-for-money for ceremonial gardens, putting greens, bowling greens and cricket pitches; for commercial planting schemes/shared allotments; and for large gardens. Electric fencing has been shown to be over 90% effective in excluding badgers in scientifically sanctioned trials.

There are two types of fencing applicable to excluding Badgers.

  1. Strained-wire fences consist of a series of electrified parallel conducting wires at varying heights above the ground. The conducting wires of strained-wire fences can be made from either polythene twine interwoven with steel strands (poly wire) or galvanised steel. The steel wire is a better conductor, far more durable and is cheaper but harder to work with.
  2. Electric netting fence consists of a woven net of poly twines containing electrical filaments. These are very easy to erect and move, very effective but are more intrusive and require larger energisers.

If both fence types are maintained properly they are equally effective. However, galvanised steel fences appear to be more effective than their poly wire counterparts.

Electric fencing systems are very light and simple to understand so lend themselves comfortably to DIY possibilities.

The strained-wire fence system is constructed of four electrified parallel conducting wires at heights of 10, 15, 20 and 30cm (4, 6, 8 and 12 inches) above the ground. The wires, which are all live, are held by adjustable plastic insulators supported on wooden stakes. A very viable alternative is to use plastic “tread-in” posts similar to those employed in horse yards as they provide both the posts and insulators in one item. The corners and ends are normally more robust wooden posts with insulators applied.

Electric netting fences vary in height and mesh size, and come in 50m rolls fitted with spiked posts at regular intervals and a clip at each end to join rolls together. Pegged guy ropes are also supplied with each roll to support the fences at the ends and at bends. These fences are very easy and quick to erect and dismantle but do require stronger energizers and require more maintenance to keep the vegetation away from the bottom strands.

The electric fence needs to be used between dusk and dawn for at least a few weeks (i.e. until each visiting badger has had a “sting” on the nose). The best guesstimate is that they will remain effective for at least 95% of badgers who have been stung (as exceedingly few like to receive a second sting). This means that after the initial few weeks, you can take the risk that the fence can be left in situ, but left non-electrified during the day and operated at night.

Electric fences must be powered by a specialised energizer (which gets its power from the mains or from a 12v battery). If you use a 12v battery, you will need two batteries, so you can charge one up on a trickle-charger, whilst the other one of electrifying the fence. An alternative is to use a solar panel.

When badgers encountered the fences for the first time their initial response is the same as would be expected for any unfamiliar object. In most instances, badgers approach the fences cautiously before investigating, usually with their noses, which are poorly insulated and highly innervated. Any individual touching an electrified fence with their nose will, therefore, receive a sharp shock and subsequently learn to avoid the area. Investigatory behaviour of this nature should therefore be encouraged and a number of approaches are being used to achieve this. The best solution to this is to attach specific bait caps to the fence. These have an absorbent centre that is then soaked in an attractant such as syrup or neat Apple cordial for the first week or so.

Badgers that have definitely been seen to touch the electrified wires generally responded by retreating immediately to the nearest harbourage. This response was most marked when the badgers concerned touched the electrified wires with their noses. Badgers do not appear overly stressed by the receipt of an electric shock and will move in the close vicinity of the fence without touching it again.

Mistakes to Steer Clear of When Installing Electric Fencing

The key purpose of electric fencing is to keep the intruders, whether animals or humans, away from a property. These electric barriers are used ideally at government-owned buildings, properties of army, and agricultural lands. When not installed properly, the chances of encroachment rises.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that one should avoid when installing electric fencing –

Not installing insufficient ground rods for proper earth grounding – To set up an electric fence post, you would need tolerable earth grounding. It is an essential need, for which you will need at least three to four galvanized poles, each six to eight feet long. You need to attach them with first-rate quality ground clamps. Poor quality would not be as efficient in preventing trespassing as good quality ones.

Use different varieties of metals – If you are considering electric fencing wires of diverse metals, you might be stepping ahead towards installing a weaker security system. It is always advisable to use only one variety of metal wires in fencing. When wires of different materials are joined, their oxidization or decay rate tends to be higher.

Tightly tied wires – When a fence post is being created, it needs to be ensured that the wires are not tied forcefully. There should be maintained proper elastic between the joints of the wires. For this, the wires should not be fastened firmly; they should be tied loosely.

Not training your pets – All your pets should be given apposite training about the electric fencing and wires. You need to teach them to stay away from the fence. It will avert the likelihood of accidents at your property.

Not placing indications about the electric fencing – Another important exercise when installing electric fencing is to flag the fence for increasing its visibility. Generally, people use white or red flags to show the electric boundary. Not placing flags near the fence would raise the chances of accidents and casualties at your premises.

Growing grass near the barrier – Wet grass can create serious hurdles, during early morning hours, due to do, or during rainfall. The wetland, grass and tree leaves are fluent conductors of electricity. You should avoid cultivating grass or plants near the railing.

Developing new barrier near the old one – You should never ever set up a new fencing near an abandoned fencing. The wires of old barrier can create a mess with the ones of the newly established barrier. It would be dangerous and unsafe.

Additionally, installing voltmeters near the power supply source is always advisable. It will help you control the quantity of current, to be supplied through wires. You should always prefer high tensile smooth wires; these are durable and affordable.

Common Mistakes to Avoid With Electric Fencing

Most people think setting up an electric fence is just as easy as setting up non-electric fences. They do not take into account the sensitivity of the charges associated with electric fencing. Because of this, there are several common mistake people make when setting up their electric fences that render them useless. Below are some common mistakes and ways to avoid them.

Setting up posts too closely
The average fence has posts set up every 50 feet for large fences and even closer for smaller areas. Because of this, people will also set their fence posts this closely. However, because of the tautness of the fence, if an animal tries to break through, they usually damage the fence and uproot the posts. The posts should be spread further apart to allow some give in the fence. This way, if an animal tries to break through, the fence will give some without breaking or uprooting the posts. Since the fence gives instead of breaking, it allows the animal to feel the full force of the electric shock guaranteeing that the animal will think twice before charging the fence again.

Not Accounting for wet weather conditions
It is no shock (excuse the pun) that fences are affected by wet conditions. What is a surprise is that wet grass lying on the fence can absorb the charge from the fence rendering it useless. To avoid this common mistake, keep grass around the fence cut short. Otherwise, if you cannot cut the grass on a regular basis, wire the bottom of the fence separately from the top and install a separate switch. That way, when the grass is high, you can turn off the switch for the lower part of the fence and keep the charge on the upper portion.

Not Enough Voltage
The purpose of an electric fence is to deliver a shock to an animal to keep it in, or out, of the fence. Some people think they have purchased faulty fencing when animals escape because they were not deterred by the shock. However, the lack of shock may be attributed to the setup of the fence as opposed to the fence itself. To avoid this mistake, make sure you install a strong charger. Also, if you do not have a voltmeter, get one. This is the only way for you to know if the shock is strong enough. If all else fails, check the size of your wires. The bigger your wires, the more electricity they carry.

An electric fence is a worthwhile buy if you need to keep animals in your yard. Just make sure you avoid these mistakes when setting up your fence, good luck.