At first glance, the thin wire or braided cord and moveable stakes commonly used in constructing an electrified livestock fence hardly seems up to the task of controlling an adult cow. For several decades, however, beef and dairy producers who rely on rotational grazing have recognized electric fencing as the best option to temporarily fence off fresh sections of grazing pasture to nourish their cows. Since it can be repositioned easily, usually by a single person, the animals can be ensured a healthy diet of clean, fresh grass with little investment in labor or expensive permanent fencing. To use this type of fencing, cows must be conditioned to understand and respect the fence. If you would like to install an electric fence for use with your family cow, the following tips will help.
The Visibility Factor
Traditional livestock fencing works because it is both strong and visible. Cows see it as a visible barrier that, when touched, feels substantial and unyielding. Because it is constructed from lighter materials and can be moved, electrical fencing can lack some of the visibility factor that teaches bovines to respect a traditional permanent fence.
To make your electrical fencing more visible for your cow and help create definite boundaries that she will respect, you can tie strips of white or florescent surveyor's tape to the wire. When doing this, leave the ends a few inches long, so they will wave in the wind, making them easier for your cow to notice.
The Zap Factor
Of course, the strength of any electric fence is provided by its ability to deliver an electrical shock when the wire or cord is touched. Before your cow will respect the fence, however, she must first experience being shocked, or zapped, by the fencing. Since she is powerful enough to run straight through this type of fencing if she is unaccustomed to it and becomes frightened, it is necessary to introduce her to it carefully so that she learns to respect it and is unwilling to touch it for any reason.
An easy way to do this is to install one small section of electrical fencing inside a corral or small traditionally fenced pasture, leaving several feet of open space at each end. Then place a trough with treats or food that the cow likes on one side of the fence and lead her to the other side. As she attempts to reach through the fence to get the treat, she will experience the zap of the fence and quickly learn not to touch it. After a few tries, she will learn to move along the fence, through the open spaces and retrieve her treat without touching the fence. This lesson reinforces the fact that touching the fence is unpleasant and helps her be able to respect its boundaries in a larger, grazing situation later.
If you have additional questions about electric fencing for your family cow or how to use it for other types of livestock, consider contacting a reputable fencing contractor in your area. They will be able to assist you in choosing and installing the best electrical fencing for your needs. Click for more info.