The birds were split into 5 lots and housed adjacent to each other in five 150m2 runs (50m net) with an arc in each. The arc was left open so the birds could move at will. The pens were sited in line 5m away from the hedge row and 3m between runs.
Control using plain chicken wire 1m tall, no electric fencing.
5 line standard fencing 1m tall and energised, no netting. Bait was used.
Standard Poultry netting 105cm tall with builders’ damp-course below the bottom line. Bait was used.
Livestok Sheep netting 105cm tall with builders’ damp-course below the bottom line. Bait was used.
Wolf netting 120cm tall with builders’ damp-course below the bottom line. Bait was used.
Runs two to five were linked to a 12v hotShock A15 energiser and registered 8000v when running. The bait stations were treated with a proprietary gravy mix twice weekly for three weeks and then left untreated on the fence thereafter. The ground between the runs was cleared by a harrow so that incoming spoor and reactions could be assessed.
The chickens and trials were inspected on a daily basis. The birds were fed and watered daily.
The first fox inspection occurred on night 3 when he tested a bait station on the Wolf net. His tracks indicated he got a shock and departed.
On night 5 a fox visited and walked around without attempting entry.
On night 6, all hens in the control were killed. There were signs that the fence was climbed over to gain entry.
On night 7, the Livestok Net and poultry net were tested in turn by the same fox. He was shocked by both and departed. No attempt was made to jump or climb over the nets despite being low enough for a fox to do so.
Visits from foxes were noted on several nights over the next 11 weeks but neither the nets nor fence was penetrated. Only twice were any of the fences tested again with the fox simply walking around the area. At no stage did the foxes try to jump over, nor to dig under despite they were quite capable of doing so.
The test was closed down 12 weeks after the inception.
This un-replicated and observation test suggests that Electric fencing is very effective in combating the threat of Foxes to free-range poultry. In my opinion the cheaper Sheep netting is as effective as the more expensive marketed poultry netting. That foxes do not jump over or dig under simply reinforces what is already known about animal behaviour regarding the electric field. They are unable to percieve its limits and extent, so do not try to go under or over the known field.