A DORSET swannery has enlisted the aid of the Archers as it employs psychological warfare in a bid to deter hungry predators.

Abbotsbury Swannery is located near a lagoon and protected by fences stretching nearly 60 metres out into the water, but tenacious foxes used to swim round the defences to wreak havoc.

Now thanks to the wisdom of a Devon farmer the swannery has strategically positioned radios playing Radio 4 at full volume all around the outer reaches of the site, which have scared the foxes away. Swanherd Dave Wheeler, said: “Our swans are not bothered by people and so they’re not worried by voices.

“Foxes cause a huge amount of damage on a regular basis. It was a farmer that put us on to Radio 4. In his words ‘Radio 4 is so boring that foxes won’t go near it.’ “Foxes follow the boundary fence looking for a way to get in to the Swannery and it’s when they get to the water that we need to deter them. They hear voices and they think people must be around and so they go away.

“We thought it was a big joke at first but he eventually convinced us that Radio 4 worked for him and so we thought if it’s worked for him, it should work for us. He said he found out by accident. He left his radio on and he didn’t lose a chicken that night.

“The good thing about Radio 4 is that it talks and it continues talking all night long, partly as the World Service. A lot of other stations might change to music or stop altogether.”

Benedictine monks set up Abbotsbury Swannery more than 600 years ago to farm swans for meat. It is now the only place in the world where visitors can walk through a colony of mute swans.