The first year I ran cows, I spent a lot of time researching which grazing system I wanted to use. There was barb wire, New Zealand, or just one hot wire. The choices were straightforward. Every dairy cow in our valley is controlled by one hot wire right next to the road. Being overly cautious, I settled on two hot wires.
Well, those first cows arrived, wandered out of the trailer, impolitely walked through the hot wire, and left. OH NO! Thankfully it was Sunday and all of our neighbors were home. It took all day long to round them up. Fortunately, one our dairy farm neighbors corralled them for us. Our family went to work building a 4-strand barb wire fence with one hot wire in the middle. That was an education. Now when our cows break a hot wire fence, it is an interior fence and they are still contained by the perimeter barb wire fence. We even have combination locks on our exterior gates so that they can’t be accidently opened. Nothing like chasing cows, and cows by nature are pretty docile, but when they know you are trying to catch them or move them all bets are off.
The other challenge with having fences is controlling the grass on the fence line. It takes us 40 man-hours to trim the grass in order to make sure that the blackberries don’t grow and the grass won’t short out the electric fence.
Last week, when we were trimming the grass, a hot wire at a post was cut and no one noticed for a day or two. Eventually the cows let us know, at least the few that are always testing the fence and our patience☺. (Hmmm, sounds like a good segue into parenting, but we will save that for another week.)
We are now on the hunt to find the short in the fence that the cows have discovered. I am not concerned, however, because now the cows can only wander around inside the perimeter fence and not the neighbor’s yard. But we still need to find it. We start turning off sections of fence to locate the short. Sometimes the short is a wire that is touching another wire or overgrown grass touching the wire or, in this case, a cut wire.
We finally ended up finding the break. It was on a buried section of wire where it came out of the ground. I grabbed the end of the wire to fix it, but I grabbed the hot one that wasn’t shorted out. Man that wire was hot—sent a jolt right up my arm. Yep, the electric fence charger still works.
Moral of the story: good fences make good neighbors and let your kids fix the fence when it is shorted out!
PS.Take a look at our video below to meet the cows!