Rabbit fencing should be made up of a 31 mm hexagonal mesh with 18 gauge (1.2mm) wire, anything less than this can be chewed threw or a 50 x 25 mm rectangular weld-mesh. is needed to prevent juvenile rabbits entering. Any mesh dimensions larger than this will allow juvenile rabbits to pass thru.
Rabbit fencing height should be at least of 0.75m most usually using 0.9m high material so that no point along the fence line is less than 0.75m. Ideally the top 15cm of fence should be angled at 45 degrees to prevent rabbits from climbing over it. In addition 15cm at the bottom of the fence should be layed horizontally and covered with turf; to prevent the rabbits digging under the fence.
The netting should be placed under strain with a wire running along the top and bottom of the rabbit fence run.
The fence should enclose the protected area 100%, if this is not possible it should extend 150m beyond the protected zone at each end.
Badger gates need to be installed in the fence line if there are any badger tracks or paths crossing the fence line.
Electric rabbit fencing
There are two common designs of electric fencing, both of which are effective deterrents the first is an electric net fence and the second a strained wire system.
It is very important to ensure the fence remains electrified all the time in the first week after it is put in place.
To prevent an electric short out on grass and vegetation a 45 – 60 cm wide cut strip should be kept along the fence line.
Initially inspect every 2 – 3 days; later every 2 – 3 weeks could be sufficient.
The most important element of design in an electric rabbit fence is that there is a live wire at a low enough height (50mm), so that a rabbit crawling under it will be shocked. Both types are powered by an energiser which must produce at least 1 joule at 500 ohms resistance. Batteries need to be changed regularly (every 2- 3 weeks for a fully-charged 70 Ah battery). Keeping at least 2.5 kV through the fence is important to deter rabbits.
Electric netting, using heavy-duty polythene twine mesh with interwoven stainless steel wires in the horizontal strands (except the bottom strand, to prevent shorting). These nets are 50 to 75cm high and come in 25 m lengths with fence posts pre-included. making the fence easy and quick to put up and take down.
Electric strained-wire systems use seven parallel 7-strand 16-gauge medium tensile mild steel wires at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 cm above ground level, with the lowest wire earthed and the remainder live. The wires are held by adjustable plastic insulators on metal stakes which can be placed up to 7 m apart (depending on how level the ground is); anchor posts are used at bends in the fence line and the system is tensioned at a reel post at the fence end.
The fence should be put up totally around the area to be protected, or if this is not possible, then extending at least 150 m beyond each end of the area in which rabbit damage is a problem.
Electric Rabbit Fencing Trials
In trials, a fence 0.45 m high with live wires at 5, 10, 20,30 and 40 cm above ground level was effective, as was a commercially available (Flexnet, Bramley and Wellesley Ltd, Gloucester, UK) fence 75 cm high with a 75 x 65 mm polywire mesh.
A few rabbit may learn to jump through or over such fences.
Rabbits show a conditioned avoidance of electrical fences.
A trial of two makes of commercially-available fences (Flexnet netting fence, Bramley and Wellesley Ltd, Gloucester, UK, about 50 cm high with about 80 x 80 mm mesh; Livestok netting fence, Bramley and Wellesley Ltd, Gloucester, UK, about 50 cm high with 500 mm x 50 mm mesh), found them to be 76 – 82% effective and equally cost-effective. Both were powered by Hotline (AEC Electric Fencing Lits, Newton Abbott, UK) P500 energisers (about one joule measured into a 500 ohm resistance, pulsed every second, with a 1.0 – 1.5 m earth rod and using a 70 A h battery).