Friday, March 3, 2017

How we Keep Whitetail Deer Out of the Hay Yard


Whitetail deer can jump 12 feet up and over if desperate. I've never seen them do it but the Internet says they can so it has to be true -  right? I have watched a whitetail slip between the top two wires on a barbwire fence as neatly as if they were threading a needle. This makes keeping deer out of the hay a real challenge especially when the snow is so deep making fences shorter especially when the snow gets hard and crusty. This is what we've come up with to keep them at out. A hay yard at the back of the barn where it is slightly protected against the building. The deer definitely are not jumping the two story barn so one side is next to it. The front is where the least amount of snow piles so it is simply a cow panel fence and then another four foot woven wire fence above that equaling about eight feet of height. The gate on the left is where the Otter sled and I go through. I have to duck as I'm not four foot nothing like our sweet petite eight year old granddaughter.
On the outside there is a pasture fence just a little less than four feet out. You can see where the snow has pulled the wires down. You can see that the whole fence line to the north will need a lot of repairs come spring thaw. But for now the hanging wires are just enough of a deterrent to keep the deer from leaping it and then trying to leap upward eight feet.  

On the backside of the hay yard is the buck goat pen with deep, deep snow drifts. Beyond that the goat yard  where the does are and the buck also in the winter time. The deer come into the goat yard to steal hay from the hay feeder but they never leap into the snow buck pen. It is just small enough to make them very uncomfortable with the deep snow. Here again we've utilized a two fence approach to keep them out. If there ever was a winter to try out our new hay yard system, it would be this one as the snow has been deep and storms frequent.

Ranchers have told me they have fed nearly twice as much hay this winter and supplies are getting short with fighting the deer for it. With a dry summer and grass short and scarce, there is not much to dig down for, for the deer. This makes the hay a great temptation. We need the moisture but it has been really hard on wildlife. Dead deer carcasses are piling up by the thousands around the county. We had too many deer in our area to start with but you never want to see this happen to them. In sympathy, we always leave a little hay outside the hay feeders for the deer that come into the yard but we can not afford to actually feed the deer any more than a small amount. The beef in defense of their hay have begun sleeping one on each open side of their hay feeder. It is every animal for himself.

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