Pilot project tests fencing options

BONANZA, Alberta — With a herd of 75 wild elk and a smattering of deer and moose wandering through the bush north of his farm, Bill Wilson thought his days of swath grazing and bale grazing were over.

However, a new fencing technique has allowed Wilson to once again inexpensively graze his cattle without wildlife eating most of the winter feed.

“Now it’s an option for me to do,” said Wilson, who farms east of Bonanza in Alberta’s Peace River region.

There isn’t just one three dimensional fence design, said Talon Johnson with the Peace River Forage Association of British Columbia.

“Every producer has tried something different,” he said.

A pilot project has helped producers try a variety of fencing techniques to create three-dimensional fences to keep wildlife away from bale yards, grain bags, winter feeding, and for Wilson, entire quarter sections.

Three-dimensional fencing is a second fence, often electric, beside an existing fence. The second fence makes the wildlife stop and think before leaping over, under or through it. It creates height, depth and width and produces a three dimensional effect.

The eyes on the sides of elk, deer and moose heads give them poor depth perception and make them more reluctant to leap over objects.

Wilson has two three dimensional fence designs.

He added a three-wire electric fence about one metre inside an existing barbed wire perimeter fence. The top wire is 54 inches above the ground.

When building a new perimeter fence, Wilson built a two-wire electric fence and then added a three wire electric fence about a metre inside the perimeter to create the three-dimensional effect.

Wilson doesn’t know if the fence would be a deterrent for elk running from hunters, but the combination of electric and three dimensional fencing has stopped grazing wildlife from going inside the pasture.

“It does seem to work.”

Last winter, Wilson was able to graze swathed perennial forage without continually chasing away wildlife.

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