Making fencing ferret/stoat/predator proof

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11 years 4 months ago #33577 by suslik
Friends, I need your help today.

Our land borders bush and pineforest. Two days ago something feral (a stoat? A ferret?) got into our duck yard and mauled our 7 and 9 week old ducklings. It was broad daylight and happened very quickly. (And I still tear up just thinking about it.)

Please help me figure out what to do with our fencing if we want to get ducks again.

At the moment we have a sturdy duckhouse where we (used to) shut them overnight. It's got a solid floor, solid walls and ventilation openings up underneath the roof eaves, every opening 1,5 cm across.

Then there is what we call a small run: 5 m by 3 m fencing around the duckhouse where we (used to) keep their food, water and paddling pool. Fencing is hex-shaped netting dug 10 cm into the ground, openings are 5 cm across.

And then there is what we call a big run: yard area partially mowed, partially un-mowed (ducks used to wade through that tall grass and you could only see the top of the grass moving, not the ducks themselves, and hear quacking). It is surrounded by the same metal hex-shaped netting, but it isn't dug into the ground.

Most of our ducklings were killed in the big run and some bodies dragged out through underneath the fencing. I shut the remaining two in the small run (whilst preparing to take them to another duck-keeper) but stoat/ferret got in and killed one. It couldn't get the duckling out of the fencing though, with it being dug into ground.

***

Things we've discussed with my husband that could maybe work (please pipe in if you think they wouldn't):

* At ground level replacing hex-netting with roofing iron laid sideways and dug maybe 30 cm into the ground. Above it we would keep hex-netting to about waist-height. (Thing I'm wondering is: would roofing iron have any benefit to, say, chicken wire? Can a small ferret squeeze through chicken wire?)

* Asking DOC for stoat-traps. Given that part of the bush is reserve land they might even be interested in us trapping the buggers...

* Keeping the yard setup the same, but getting big adults ducks. I'm not sold on that idea though... Would a stoat get an adult duck? Indian Runner type adult duck?

PS. I would attach photos of our yard-setup, but I can't see any icons that would allow me to do so.

***

I would love to have ducks in our yard again. They were such a joy. But I want to only do it if I'm reasonably sure that we won't have a duck-massacre again.

Weird thing is, there are two dozen freeranging chicken - our neighbor's - on our land whose coop isn't shut overnight, but there haven't been any chicken killed. Yet anyway.

I am very much looking forward to your thoughts.

With many thanks,
Maria

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11 years 4 months ago #445217 by LongRidge
Roofing iron might work, and so might "bird netting" dug a few inches into the ground. You might need to slope it outwards so that they fall off and out as they climb up the netting.
Definitely get stoat traps.
How do you know that it was not your or the neighbours dog?
Yes, any hungry mustelid would get an adult duck - weasel, stoat, ferret, pole cat.

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11 years 4 months ago #445230 by suslik

LongRidge;445190 wrote: How do you know that it was not your or the neighbours dog?

I thought about that and we checked all dogs straight afterwards for any blood marks - nothing. Also, I cannot think how dogs would get through underneath the fencing, or over it. Even in the "big run" fencing was pinned down with U-pegs every 2 metres. Stoat/ferret/bastard had squeezed through underneath it with a little bit of digging.

Thank you for your reply.

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11 years 4 months ago #445233 by Andrea1
It may also have been a rat, even in the middle of the day. Ducklings are easy pickings for them, unfortunately, and we've found dead ones that they've tried to pull down their holes, couldn't and just chewed away what they could and left the rest of the carcass there, plugging the entrance. Continuous trapping and poisoning are probably your best bet, they are hard to fence out.

In the US, we had all manor of nighttime nasties, so had to house the animals with that in mind. The ducks, which preferred to be in the outdoors all the time in all weathers, had to get shut away at night for their own safety. Their house and the chook house were entirely enclosed, and window openings had wire cloth nailed over the inside and outside, and then had battens nailed over the edges to keep anything from pulling up the edges (not unheard of!). The chooks put themselves to bed at night, but the blimmin' ducks had to be shooed into their house every night.

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11 years 4 months ago #445235 by suslik

Andrea;445206 wrote: The chooks put themselves to bed at night, but the blimmin' ducks had to be shooed into their house every night.

Really? That's funny =), because ours went to their duckhouse on their own. I think they got used to sleeping in there - once dusk set in, they were inside and I'd just shut the door behind them. Very convenient.

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11 years 4 months ago #445237 by suslik

Andrea;445206 wrote: It may also have been a rat, even in the middle of the day. Ducklings are easy pickings for them, unfortunately, and we've found dead ones that they've tried to pull down their holes, couldn't and just chewed away what they could and left the rest of the carcass there, plugging the entrance.

Thinking about it now: what's the difference between a rat attack and a ferret/stoat attack? How do you tell their holes apart?

I've just realised that maybe the bastard is living in our back yard. It's been overgrown for years, and now that we've bushwacked it down there are several holes which I thought are old, abandoned and empty, because I didn't see any signs of them being in use. But given that I don't actually know what what to look for, it's probably not a surefire diagnosis...

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11 years 4 months ago #445241 by suslik
I've sat down and done a bit of Googling now. From what I understand making a stoatproof fencing is a b*tch! ( www.wildlifeextra.co.nz/go/news/pest-fence.html#cr ) And given that we can't keep them out with fencing, that pretty much leaves us with trapping. Oh goody... ( www.predatortraps.com/ )

Thank you for your replies and I'm sorry I asked before I'd done any research. From what I've read now it looks like our duckling massacre was a stoat-job. ( www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/threats-and...stoats/you-can-help/ ) I think we'll be getting three DOC 200 traps.

PS. Spent a day in the back yard setting up storage for firewood. Far corner smelled like there was something dead in there. And now reading about stoats stashing their prey... *Sigh*

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11 years 4 months ago #445243 by FarmerAl
With regards ya holes you have found in the back yard... If you wish to declare war on the stouts or rats as a kid we used to flood the mongrels out. Not possibly the best method, but worked nonetheless. Shove ya garden hose down the hole and flood the chambers out and they should come out a exit hole....when they do a good piece of four by two did the job.[:0]

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11 years 4 months ago #445245 by Furball
I used to lose ducklings all the time until I made a completely enclosed rearing pen. Rectangular, small sized chickenwire all the way round, dug down a few inches into the ground so rats don't think to dig under, sliding door of marine ply sliding down onto a row of bricks (so nothing can dig in though there) The roof is fully covered, made of wire stapled onto wooden panels that can be slid off for access, but as the edges are wood lying on wood, they're too heavy to be pushed or levered by a ferret.

Once a mother has hatched a brood, she goes in there until the ducklings are big enough, and then they all go into the main house at night with the adults. I haven't lost any ducklings at all to predators since I started using this. If a duck isn't in there, she tends to lose all her brood within 3 days where I am. So it's not impossible to make something predator-proof, but it will cost in time and materials.

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11 years 4 months ago #445246 by suslik

Furball;445220 wrote: I used to lose ducklings all the time until I made a completely enclosed rearing pen.

How long do you keep ducklings in there before you let them out?

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11 years 4 months ago #445251 by Twinmills
If you give me a ring at home one night i can tell you how to buit a fence they wont get though

Me and
sheep
Chooks
dog[:D][:D]

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11 years 4 months ago #445258 by Simkin
Hi suslik,

as the others have already said - trap the buggers before getting new ducks. They are much more likely to go into a trap when they are hungry. We have Fenn traps set 24/7/365 with an egg as bait. It's a must. Once a mustelid knows where the chooks or ducks are they go straight there.

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11 years 4 months ago #445265 by jimminette
We have a cat that catches stoats, rats, mice, even water rats. This keeps her busy enough that she doesn't even bother with birds, thank heavens. I know cats are controversial but stoats pinching ducklings in the wild even far out ways catches a cat would make surely. Cats can learn what they are allowed and what their not (although not saying they're perfect) and I know I'm pretty grateful to this cat as don't want stoats killing for fun. I know we've had something in the hen house in winter but not lost anything to predators - think they've come in for food scraps

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11 years 4 months ago #445282 by poaka
Lost of comment and heartache over the years on this site about mustelid attack. They are very resourceful about getting in.Our worst was 15 light sussex pullets one day it was a ferret and I got him.This sounds like a ferret or stoat, probably a stoat, seem to be more of them, doubt if it's a rat they would only kill the one . Were any heads eaten? As Simkin says Fenn ,set all the time preferably by the fence line or against the house they run these areas. Eggs as good as anything I don't bait now they are naturally inquisitive and run in for a nosey :D , If you get an attack clean up the bodies and put one in the Fenn trap I will guarantee you will catch the creature ,they always come back I would catch 10 rats for every stoat and probably 2 Ferrets a year. My animals / birds are like yours right next to a pine forest. Good luck :)

Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not Happy. [:)]

3 Beef Roasts and Mince
40 Chicken Roasts and Omelettes
25 Pigeon Pies left after Falcon dined out,. 5 pheasants
plus 3 pig dogs

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11 years 4 months ago #445493 by Aquila

FarmerAl;445217 wrote: With regards ya holes you have found in the back yard... If you wish to declare war on the stouts or rats as a kid we used to flood the mongrels out. Not possibly the best method, but worked nonetheless. Shove ya garden hose down the hole and flood the chambers out and they should come out a exit hole....when they do a good piece of four by two did the job.[:0]

Cut the grass as short as you can, cover all holes with big rocks, flood them out and clean up any escapees with a .22 or shotgun (air rifle if on a small block and no firearms license). Trap the area continually using holes in fences as trap points.

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2

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