Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Please ... Fence Me In

Because of soccer commitments (and everything else) we have not been able to get going on our PowerFlex perimeter fencing project. Nevertheless the cows (and especially Barnabas the bull) have decided that it is spring and they want to be out on the green grass. I don't blame them one bit, but I just haven't had time to tackle all of the projects that need to be done. But, my plan was to go to a meeting this morning (and arrive early to write my blog post) and then run out to the farm to put up some electric fence so that they could have grass. Needless to say, that isn't what happened.

First the calves got out when I was building a new paddock for them (not their fault ... this was a user error). After getting them back in I had just a few minutes to get ready before needing to leave to the meeting. My wife happened to look out the window as I was getting ready and said, "Where is the bull!" We went out to try and get them in, but they are just spunky when they get on the grass and it was going no where. So, I decided to settle for the better part of valor and skip the meeting so I could put up the fence ... meanwhile the three cows and the bull that were out just wandered the farm.

After a few hours, a trip to McCorkles Hardware and a lot of help from my wife I finally have a nice electric fence up. I would say that the perimeter of the area they have now is about 3/8ths of a mile, so they have a bit of room to roam. I will be rotating them through that area and always giving them a gate back to their winter pen so they can have water. It isn't ideal at all, but it will get us by for now.


Rich said...

I know you are focused on producing grass-finished beef, but have you considered using some cubes to train some of your cattle to come when they are called?

Any animal can be trained to come to a whistle (or horn or siren or etc.) by offering a food treat while whistling at the same time. Over time increase the distance between treat and cattle then start to phase out the treat and they should come to your call. You only need one to actually come to your call and the rest should follow (and the others will be trained by the one that learns it first).

The purist might agonize over feeding any amount of grain to ruminants, but I personally don't see how a bag of cubes spread over the course of a couple of weeks of training can change the CLA present in the beef.

In my mind, lowering the stress levels in the cattle and the stockman during handling, in addition to the increased safety factor (again for both cattle and stockman) is worth any small change in the CLA levels.

Of course, you could always use some more expensive alfalfa cubes and avoid the whole CLA argument.

Steven said...

Rich, you can also use Alfalfa pellets or cubes.

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