Electric Fencing for Cattle
Many, many years of effective Fencing
Historically cattle have been fenced by using several lines of barbed wire. This has done the job but has resulted in many maimed, mutilated, ruined and destroyed valuable animals over the years. Fortunately this has being replaced by the use of electric fencing in more and more situations. It is cheap, highly effective and best of all the chances of maiming an animal are negligible.
Dairy cows are typically docile creatures due to the regular close contact with humans and so are easy to fence with Electric Fencing. A single strand of wire at a low voltage (3000v) is frequently used on wetland and irrigated pastures to rotate the animals around the pasture. The portability feature of Electric Fencing permits this function so that the pasture is not permanently divided up by fencing. The overall ease with which a pasture may be managed is a feature of using Electric Fencing.
Beef cattle are not handled on a daily basis so are more intractable than dairy cattle. They may be still fenced by one or two strands of electrified wire but at a higher voltage (6000v). The fencing used for beef cattle is typically of a more permanent nature surrounding larger pastures indicating the more extensive nature of beef raising. This may best be seen in more arid regions where beef is raised in extensive pastures but still rotated to allow the pasture to regenerate such as the High Density, Short Duration techniques. Continuous grazing represents zero grazing management and graziers who do not pro-actively manage their grazing process will unwittingly place themselves in an ongoing confrontation with nature.
Bulls that are separated from cows may try to escape their pasture to breed cows that are in oestrus. Fencing is erected to thwart the targets desire to get where he/she wants to go to and the stronger that desire - the stronger the fence has to be. To keep bulls fenced separately, use up to four strands of wire. Keep the wire energized with a minimum of 1.5 Joules and 6000 volts. If one or more bulls are super-aggressive, you can train them to respect the fence by baiting the line. This entices them to investigate the fence with their noses or tongues. These highly enervated organs are very sensitive and the fence will be reinforced in their brain as something to respect.
The typical reaction of an animal to receiving a shock is to retreat from the fence a short distance and soon recover. They learn the limits of the fence and it is possible to see a line of cows with their heads below the energised line, but not touching, and grazing as close as they can to the fence.
The wire spacing for electric wire can vary, depending on the cattle breed. But typically you'll want at most three strands that are place at the cows' nose height, lower chest height, and knee. For cows with nursing calves, you'll need a strand of electrified wire at the nose level of both.