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livestock-go-round

or Musical Livestock, if you prefer. No matter how you say it, there has been a lot of moving of animals in the past week. The first of which was to separate the sows from the piglets. I managed to separate and move them fairly easily. Then came the hair sheep and combining the rams and ewes. That was easy, all I did was open up the fence panel between their pens. Next came the cattle, I setup poly-wire around some of the alfalfa and moved the cowherd onto that. I even managed to get a boar moved from the garden into the sow pen and a sow into the garden with the other boar. A few delays but nothing unexpected. So far, so good right?

Well, then that sow got out and I chased her around the farm and got her back in. While I was looking for tools to repair the fence, she proceeded to run right back out the other side (this pen just has one electric fence wire). By that time it was dark and I had no idea where she was. So I fixed the  fence and called it a night. Later that night, Jamie was concerned that something would happen to her so I went back out with the spotlight and found her. I proceeded to chase her around the farm yard again and I almost had her but I ended up losing her and decided to wait until morning. The next morning Jamie and I chased her around again (ok so I chased her around but Jamie helped stage blockades) and eventually got her in the pen with the piglets. We decided that was good enough and would bring the boar to her. After some coaxing with the feed bucket, we managed to get the boar in too.

Then came the cow. Cow #27 is the "Escapee cow". I have seen her go under, over, through most fences on our farm. And I'm tired of it! This weekend was the last straw when I found her and a bunch of heifers out and some of my poly-wire down. We decided then and there that she was not going back with the herd; although she did not get the memo. I've been working with the cattle using the animal handling techniques I learned but there's not much you can do in that particular situation. So I ended up chasing her around the farm on a four wheeler. Throughout the course of the day she jumped over (and temporarily got stuck in) a barbed wire fence and three electric fences. I did get her into the corral up towards the house though and that's where she'll have to stay since she'll get out of any other sort of fencing that I have on the farm. Of course, she has a four month old calf too but he was with the herd at the time so I was only able to move her. They are both bauling but I can't get the calf to leave the herd so I'm not sure what to do. He's definitely old enough to wean but I prefer to keep him on through the winter to help him gain weight faster. I'm thinking that he will make his way to her but we'll see.

I thought I would draw it up on the board for you to help clear things up...

Rich  – (December 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM)  

I've never done it, but I've read about training cattle (or sheep or whatever) to respect electric fencing.

One way is if you have a weaning pen which is basically a good calf-proof fenced area about an acre or two in size with water available on one end and some sort of feed on the other end. You build two or three alternating sections of electric fencing about 3/4 of the distance out from the sides (so the cattle have to move in a zig-zag direction to get from the water to the feed)

Build the electric fences as stout as you can with closer spaced posts and more wires and make sure it is charged and grounded good.

If you have to you can hose down the area under the fences and possibly the cattle so they are sure to get a good ground. If they have any brains at all, they will quickly figure out that an electric fence is something they don't want to mess with.

If you don't have a weaning pen, you can build a small pen out of electric fencing (high tensile might work best, combined with your poly) to train her. Or, build a wing out into the corral she is in.

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