BOZEMAN, MT--To Montana ranchers and farmers, hay is a valuable commodity.

To Montana deer and elk, a haystack looks like a free lunch. Typically, the solution is to fence the hay to protect it.

How to fence and otherwise protect haystacks is the subject of a new MontGuide fact sheet from Montana State University Extension Service authors Chris Onstad, former Toole County Extension agent, and Jim Knight, MSU Extension wildlife specialist. Onstad and Knight point out that deer and elk are particularly attracted to stored hay when the snow is deep and their natural food sources are difficult to reach. They locate the hay by smell as well as by sight.

In "Fencing to Protect Stored Hay from Deer and Elk," Onstad and Knight discuss the pros and cons, and detail the costs, of several kinds of fences: barrier, woven wire and multiwire, and repellent/electric. One of the latter is something called the "sweet and simple" fence, which can be constructed cheaply out of fiberglass rods and inexpensive wire.

The authors tell how to extend the height of a fence with fiberglass rods and how to protect haystacks with electric fences even when the ground is frozen and driving posts is impossible. And they give tips about wrapping hay when fencing isn't feasible.

You can pick up a free printed copy from your local MSU Extension office; ask for publication MT 2001-08. Or you can order a copy from Extension Publications, MSU, P.O. Box 172040, Bozeman MT 59717-2040. Please enclose $1 for handling.

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