What Protects Sheep From Wolves?
Higher and better fences – crucial for protection against wolves
In the past, it was possible to fence sheep in a simple way or even let them graze freely. Today, if you don’t keep them indoors, as a sheep farmer you need to make sure that your animals are well protected. If you erect flock protection fences and implement other protective measures for the flocks, you will reduce damage to your livestock enormously.
Experts believe that you will successfully drive away the wild animal only with the electric fence. Both the height and the quality of the electric fence serve for better wolf defense. Also, a higher level of current on the strands is useful.
Make sure that the pasture fence for your sheep herd is at least 90 centimeters high. Better is 1.20 meters or more. Also, the vegetation around the pasture to be fenced plays a role. If there are many trees and hedges, there is a risk that the predator will use them as a jumping-off point. You should then erect the fence higher and at a distance.
Lowest live wire – just above the ground
The fence to be erected should not only be high, but also as dense as possible. Strands should not be too far apart so that the wolf cannot get between them.
There is also a risk that the predator will burrow under a fence. This danger is much higher than the risk that it will jump the barrier. Accordingly, place the lowest strand no more than twenty centimeters above the ground. In this way, an attacking wolf already receives an electric shock when it starts digging.
Last but not least, the strands must be of good quality. In individual cases it happens that wolves bite through simple strands.
Supply wolf defense fence with sufficient power
To repel wildlife such as wolves, a fence must meet higher standards than the simple “runaway protection” fence of pets. Pets learn how the fence works and behave accordingly.
The predator comes carelessly from the outside. It usually takes longer to respect the fence and does not immediately seek the distance. The first electric shock the animal receives from the wolf fence must deter the animal. Therefore, it is crucial that fence wires conduct optimally and that the grounding of the pasture fencing equipment works.
In addition to the quality of the strands, the performance of the pasture fence equipment is significant. So that you don’t have to constantly replace batteries during heavy use, you should think about a powerful solar solution for operation.
Patura, as a manufacturer of pasture fencing for wolf defense fencing, gives the following tips
Powerful electric fencing devices:
Important for the deterrent effect of your electric fence for wolf protection are strong electric fence devices. These should maintain a voltage of 4,000 to 5,000 volts at the fence at all times.
Devices with at least 3 to 15 joules:
The electric fence device used to protect against the predator should have at least 3 to 15 joules of pulse energy, depending on the length and growth of the fence.
Use of solar panels:
If you use the electric fence equipment independently of power outlets, you can use solar modules for pasture fence equipment This ensures that the fence is supplied with power.
Recommendation from Patura for fences as night pens for transhumance:
90 cm high pen made of metal hoards (better: 110 cm).
At least 2 m in front of the pen a 90 cm high electric fence made of highly conductive nets (better: 106 cm)
=> This way you create a buffer zone between your animals and the predator.
=> The sheep will not run over the nets when they panic.
If you use only electronic nets for wolf defense, you need to plan the pen larger so that the sheep have more space.
Patura recommendation for easily relocatable mobile fencing for paddock sheep keeping:
4-wire mobile fence with highly conductive strands
90 cm high (distances between wires: 20 – 40 – 65 – 90 cm)
EVEN BETTER: 120 cm high with 5 strands
Patura recommendation for stationary fixed fences for paddock sheep keeping:
5 strand fixed fence with 2.5 mm steel wire
120 cm high (distances between wires: 20 – 40 – 65 – 90 – 120 cm)
Patura’s recommendation for upgrading fences made of wire mesh or knotted mesh:
Mounting 1 – 2 electric wires on spacer insulators outside in front of the fence.
=> prevents undermining of the fence
If the pasture fence is low: run an electrically charged wire at a height of about 120 cm
=> prevents jumping over the fence
Apply for help for protective fences at responsible authorities
In the defense measures against the wolf, it is advisable to work closely with the authorities. In Germany, the federal states are responsible for wolf management. The states help the owners and farmers financially. The aggrieved parties do not have to bear the costs and the effort for the legally anchored species protection for the predator alone. The states also support animal owners with preventive measures.
The differences between the federal states in helping the affected animal owners are sometimes considerable. Often, the state only provides funding in designated wolf areas and it may not exceed a maximum funding rate.
Heavily affected states have special herd protection programs. Find out more about wolf management in your state on the website of the Federal Documentation and Advisory Center on Wolves (DBBW).
Check with your local government to find out how much funding is available for wolf control measures in your state.
With current guidelines, the federal states ensure that they also compensate you for animal losses, veterinary costs or medication costs after wolf depredations. Even if the subsidies do not cover the complete expenses, you will be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.
Federal states: standards for fence types developed
The federal states have established standards for “fixed pasture fences” and “mobile pasture fences.” You can read about the standards in the states’ wolf management plans mentioned earlier. If you adhere to these standards, you are eligible for funding or compensation payments.
Basic requirements for a protective fence that repels the wolf
The fence has no gaps and is flush with the ground.
The distance to jumping aids for the predator such as embankments is sufficient.
You check the pasture fence daily – if necessary, you repair it promptly.
Make sure that the fenced area is large enough. This way you avoid the herd panicking and destroying any barrier when the wolf shows up.
Specific requirements for solid pasture fencing:
Height of a wire mesh or wire knot fence: 120 to 140 cm.
Protection from being burrowed under or undermined:
- Firmly braced, electrified ground fence,
- burying of the fence or
- laid out and fixed wire netting in front of the pasture fence
Protection against jumping over the fence (e.g. flutter tape, broadband wire)
Special requirements for mobile pasture fences:
electrified wire or net fencing: 90 to 110 cm high (wolf net or Wolfnet).
Electric fence with at least 2,000 volts of current and at least 1 joule of discharge energy
Lowest current-carrying strand: maximum 20 cm from underground
=> makes undermining impossible
Pull plastic struts vertically into the mesh of the net fence
=> make the wolf net more visible and deterrent for the wolf
NOTE: In your state, special requirements apply as protective measures and allow you to receive subsidies. You should clarify these in detail with the responsible authorities.
Federal states support guard dogs
Some federal states support livestock farmers in acquiring a guard dog. Herd protection dogs do not round up sheep or goats, but protect them effectively from wolves. Suitable breeds include the Pyrenean Mountain Dog or the Kangal Shepherd Dog.
The learning ability and character of the individual dog determine whether it will do a good job at wolf defense. Experts recommend keeping older and younger herding dogs together. The younger ones learn from the older ones and no one bears sole responsibility for the entire herd. The guard dogs repel intruders such as wolves with vigorous barking. If that doesn’t help, they attack inside the herd fence.
Conclusion on wolf defense
If you live in a wolf area, your animals are at increased risk in the paddock. Wolves will tear your animals, injure or kill them. Your animals suffer and you suffer the damage in more ways than one: pity, cost, extra effort. With wolf repellent measures you create remedy. Effective electric fences to ward off wolves and so-called guard dogs effectively keep the wild animals away from your livestock. The federal states support and pay compensation in different ways. You can find out more about compensation payments in the wolf management plan of your federal state.
Would you like to learn more about setting up an electric fence? You will find interesting information in our guide “How to install an electric fence correctly”.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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