Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Book Farmers vs. the Deer

This summer we decided to take a major step (at least a major step for us) and get a Dexter cow and a steer. The thinking was we could get a start, albeit a small start, on a herd and have a steer to eat and learn how to cook grass finished beef with. Well, somehow those original two turned into thirteen in only a few months. With the growing numbers we needed to add pasture for them and we did, after a trip to Illinois that doubled the herd size something more substantial was needed.

Thirteen Dexters on the farm led to a new pasture of about seven acres of good grass and clover. The cattle love being in there ... when they are in there! We have had a couple of breakouts lately and it wasn't because we did a poor fencing job or because the fencer couldn't keep them in. Nope, we are having a battle against the deer on the farm. Or, to put it more clearly, the deer are having a battle against the electric fence on our farm!

Since Dexters aren't known for their height our fences aren't real tall and a deer could easily hop right over without even thinking about it ... unless of course they didn't see the fence coming and they blew right through the fence bending posts, stretching wire, and knocking off insulators. It happened once, then it happened again, and well .... then it happened again! Only the first two times did the cows get out, but it is safe to say that the deer are winning this battle.

The fence being there is a new thing for the deer so maybe they will get used to it, but when we get started in full force in our rotational grazing the fence will be in a new place all of the time! Possibly it is a seasonal thing because the deer are really on the move now with the crops out and the hunters running around the woods. Of course there is always the chance that this will just be a battle that we will continually face since we live in "deer rich" Southern Iowa.

I guess we will learn over time if there is any effective tricks to help those deer see the fence before the decide to be play red rover!

5 comments:

Goodolboy said...

Hello Ethan, Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Guy Sinclair and I am from up North in Manitoba, Canada. Your deer problems will contiue until the rut stops. The rut is when the bucks are looking and mating with does that are in season. The bucks are real agressive and spend evey waking moment and all their energy chasing does and fighting other bucks for territory rights. When they are chasing does they are focused on that and that alone or when their being challenged by another buck for territory they are focused on that. This is how hunters can call and trick normally skitish deer into range to shoot with a bow. I would think when the rut is over so will your problems. Only problem, it happens every year about this time. Actually it starts in early fall and builds into a fully fledged frezy then dies out like it came. Hope this helps. Please excuse my spelling

I really enjoy you and your wife's blog. Keep up the good work. Wife just called breakfast, that means pancakes so gotta go. Talk to ya later.

Guy

Anonymous said...

We do MIG farming in Brenham Texas and have recently fenced in 18 acres next to us that is highly populated with deer. All our pastures have perminant perimeter fencing with our cross-fencing being white, high visible poly-wire on reels with plastic step in posts every 20'. The perminent fencing is 3-4 wires of high tensile 12 gauge wire. This high tensile fencing with a good low impendance fence charger really slows down deer if they do try to run through them. It doesn't break and it packs a punch making them try to go under it next time or stop and jump. It also helps to make the bottom strand grounded so that they won't get scared going under the fence. A little more work keeping weeds off but better than having to fix and stretch fence and having cows get out. In Tx, if some one hits a cow with a car, its the land owners fault where as in other states that person bought themselves a cow if they hit one. New to your blog and really enjoy. My wife has one that is about our farm, life, and family. www.Yonderwayfarm.blogspot.com Hope this helps

Kramer

Ethan Book said...

Oh boy, do we know about the rut! Our area has some of the biggest bucks in the state so the hunters love to descend on the woods and don't always like to take the time to ask for permission ... hmmm ... maybe a hunter will run into the wire?

Kramer-

Thanks for telling about your fencing. I know that we need to upgrade our entire fence system, but that will come with time. One question though, have you had problems with deer and your poly-wire? I was wondering if they would break it or just pop it off the posts?

The Kramer Family said...

Ethan,

Most long runs of poly-wire are used on interior fencing. I don't keep more than 3 2 acre pads up at a time and the wire is on reels and the posts are step in posts. Most of the time the deer slow down before they get to the interior fencing but if they don't, the wire has much give to it and it may just come off of a couple of posts. However, I did have my gates all done in a standard size 9 wire poly wire but I did walk up and spook a deer one time and he ran straight through and busted it. Now I us an equine 9 wire poly rope that is more elastic and heavy duty. Gallagher makes it.

Kramer

Anonymous said...

An idea we are trying for our acre size garden area is to double fence. Parallel fence lines that are about 4 feet apart. The eyes on a deer are on the side of the head, making them unable to determine depth perception of how far they need to jump to clear the fences. The outside one can be very simple, but very visible, and does not need to be high Also, if they do plow into it, you have a second barrier, the most important one to keep your dexters in. Love your blog. Faith Veley, Eben junction, Michigan.

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