We have a terrific deer problem on our farm. Veg Hill, our 1/4 acre cultivation area, is conveniently located right next to the pole barn where we live and nestled in the woods. It’s a lovely place to live, work, and play, but it’s also a lovely place to be a deer. You can walk right up to that smorgasboard we’ve been growing without leaving the cover of the forest. To a deer, it must look for all the world like breakfast in bed.
We’re solving the problem (or at least hope we’re solving the problem) on Veg Hill with a 7-foot high metal hexagrid deer fence from McGregor Fence Company. We have 23 fruit trees, however, that are outside the protected perimeter of the deer fence and are therefore available to the deer. When they get large enough to bear fruit, they’ll be on their own. We’ll probably have some deer damage, but we’ll live with that, because there should be plenty of fruit for the deer and us too. While the trees are young and tender, however, they couldn’t be more vulnerable. That’s why we knew from the start that we needed to build wire cages to protect them for the first year or two.
We started with a 330-foot roll of 47″ tall “Field Fence” (hog wire) from Farm Gard. We ordered it through Jeremy at Tallassee True Value, but here’s a description of it online. My brother Dave Gray had encouraged us not to make the cages too small. “Just go ahead and make them 4 feet wide,” he said, “and then you won’t be worried about the young tree getting caught up in the wire.” As you can see in the video, we first rolled off 12 1/2 feet of hog wire and fashioned it into a rough circle before we carried it out to the orchard. Then we drove a t-post two feet from the tree and attached the cage to the t-post with some thin wire at the top and at ground level. The cages seem to be fairly firmly in place.
Now we just hope the trees do well!
The video runs a little more than eight minutes. We could have made it shorter, but there are some places where it just made sense to let it run rather than to tighten it up with edits.
I have recently planted 8 5ft apple trees. I have tubes to protect the bark already on the trees. Now I am concerned about browsing on the low lying branches, and there are already signs of browsing.
I was wondering how your cages have held up so far? Are you finding that a single t post is sturdy enough to deter the deer? I am in West Virginia where there are huge numbers of deer. In fact, after a hard winter there were several carcuses on the property, so starvation is definitely an issue.
Thank you for your help and the great video!
The cages are holding up well against the deer, and we are not aware of any browsing, even on those tender shoots that are protruding through the cage walls. They stand up well to deer, but not so much to Tractor (severely deformed a cage back in late April) or the trencher we rented – https://longleafbreeze.com/?p=1769 (chewed up a cage when I inadvertently steered it into the cage). One T-post seems to be plenty of strength to hold them in place. We use very thin wire and attach it to the T-post at the bottom and the top.
Hope those apples are delicious!
Thank you for posting the video about the deer cages. This was very kind of you and I hope it will help others dealing with this issue. I’ll look up t-post and t post drivers and hog wire suppliers etc. Getting the stuff will be harder than assembling, because of your helpful video.