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Help with a noncompliant cow OR better fencing?

 
matt sorrells
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Location: Canton, NC
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Ok, let me lay out the scenario for you. I've got about 1 acre fenced in with 4 wire HT line with 7000+ volts on it. I've got three 8 foot ground rods driven in the ground on the wet side of the barn. My plan was to get more cows and rehab some land in another pasture with planned grazing. Well, we've got one cow now (he was a test, his name is Tenderloin and he will be hamburger this summer after he fattens) so I was going to learn my rotational fencing methods now with one cow.

Well, first we (my wife and two boys) set up polywire on hogtail posts (this seems to work for Joel Salatin and others). We ran Tenders into the little chute to run him into the 25 by 25 box to keep him in to start gnawing down the stockpile of grass outside his permanent fence. There is no permanent fence around this next pasture, hence my frustration. This worked great for 24 hours. He had it shorn down to about 4 inches tall and NOTICEABLY changed the grass and poo'd everywhere. Exactly what I wanted. Well, we went to move the polywire, so my youngest son disconnected the power (so I wouldnt get bit) and pretty much AS SOON as it was cold, Tenders walked right through it and proceeded a leisurely jog towards the neighbors house and sure humiliation. We wrangled him with his red sweet feed scoop and threw a rope around his neck and led him back down there. My wife held him by the rope until we hooked power back up after moving it. Well, he paced back and forth trying to follow us (he's a spoiled brat) and he held his nose near to the fence to check it. After pacing for a bit, he decided it was worth it to push straight through it. I WATCHED (and heard) him get shocked twice as he walked through it, but he hardly slowed. This time he was on to us and his empty food scoop, and ran faster. My wife ran around and headed him away from the neighbors house, but I had to run up on him, grab him around the neck and pretty much strangle him into not running with me dragging beside him. Then I threw a rope around him and grabbed aholst of his nostrils and proceeded to drag the noncompliant animal angrily back to his permanent pasture, with my temporary fencing a total wreck and my idea of containment obliterated.

Now, I see that after he saw he could walk right through it, he learned a new trick. This single strand polywire is not going to contain him currently.

Multiple questions now - Is it true what I've read that polywire will carry volts but not the joules to pacify the doggone bovine? It seems clear to me now that I must have a perimeter fence because I cannot imagine cows being as easy going as this beast, and with that in mind, would a three wire perimeter fence suffice (top and bottom hot, middle ground to keep it HOT all the way around)? After this mini-rodeo, I was considering a perimeter fence with temporary wires run on rebar with a hot and a ground running the length of the temp fence INSIDE the perimeter fence, hooked to it at its ends, to which I could move those temp fences when it was time for rotation. Somewhere I read online said that they use aluminum thinner gauge wire as temp fencing since it carries more joules than polywire. It was raining yesterday, so I fail to see where ground might have been an issue, plus it bit me and I can attest to its power, at least on my 175 lb frame. I also tested it and it shown 7000 volts, and normally when its grounded that will drop considerably.

I was hoping to spend much less on fencing than a large permanent fence around this next pasture (around 8 acres), but I cannot sleep at night thinking this 800 lb beast might get loose and I'd have to catch him off someones property. MUCH LESS a herd of 10 of these irreverent, snortin' foot stompers.

Comments? HELP! lol






 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I like to run a second set of wire, so you build the new paddock then open the line between them, keeping it hot the whole time.

I find poly needs about twice the charger as wire, unless you have the 9 strand braid.

You really need good perimeter fence. It really does give piece of mind. We run high tensile with a HT barb as the bottom wire, but we have long flat runs--regular wire may be cheaper if you have curves. You can run 3 wires for cattle, with plan to fill in later to 5 or 6 if you get smaller stock. Plan for 5 or six, then pick the right heights for now.

You probably left him there a little too long, at least for the first paddock. He mowed it too short and had gotten hungry again. You only want him to take a third before you move him.

Set up your single wire INSIDE your 1 acre paddock, to retrain him to the single wire. It may work. But a single animal is harder than a herd. They tend to get bored and start to think for themselves, just like people--and we know how dangerous that can be.
 
matt sorrells
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Location: Canton, NC
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Why does poly need a hotter charger? as I suggested, the joule load is lighter or is there something else I'm not seeing. would you run flexible metal instead of poly?

 
Renate Howard
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A single cow would be very lonely and IMHO maybe desperate enough for company to risk a shock to see if he can go find some friends. He needs a companion. Maybe a smaller calf? Or one that's halter-trained?
 
Ken Peavey
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My little bull stays in the back field as long as there is something to eat. In the cool season the grass stops growing and I offer hay. If he gets through the hay and I've not had a chance to get another roll, the grass along the road is green enough to gain his attention. At 1100 pounds, he can walk right through it. In the places where he has walked right through I've replaced the wire fence with a lumber fence. All the 4' wire fence has barbed wire at the top (previous owner had a horse), but this guy is only 3 feet tall. Replacing the fence with lumber will be a job-there's about 2000' of fence. It would be cheaper to buy a freezer.

Bull is a Lowline Black Angus. These are a valuable breed, with calves fetching $1000 each. I'd love to get him a girlfriend, but have held off because the 2.5 acres out back, while big enough for 1, is a little small for 2. The grass would be consumed and hay would be needed throughout the year. I'd be doing the beasts a disservice. The pasture grass is not dense enough to provide feed for another animal, even a small one. For now, he's got the place to himself.

When he has gone outside the fence I face the challenge of getting him home. I'm not really set up for cows. I've got a length of rope but I used that to practice tieing knots and can't get it unravelled. Moving half a ton of stubborn beef is still possible with the right equipment and some creativity. I haul out the leaf blower, crank it up, and steer the steer where ever I need him to go. One time the Sheriff showed up when Bull was out by the road. He suggested I use a whip. Whip my little buddy? I thought it a better idea to use the whip on the Sheriff but held my tongue.


bull2.jpg
[Thumbnail for bull2.jpg]
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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You need the faster hotter spark curve (more volts for the same joules) to get a good SNAP from poly. It just doesn't have enough metal to carry current so the the spark is slow to build and it just feels softer (personal experience). It may not be a bigger joule rating on the charger, but it will cost more to get the sharper power curve.

I have never been happy with farm store chargers or poly. They just don't work nearly as well as the good stuff from kencove, premiere, etc. They usually work fine for an acre or two, though.

You can always bait the wire with peanut butter. When they go to sniff or lick it they will get a direct hit that will usually teach a new level of respect for the wire!
 
matt sorrells
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Location: Canton, NC
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my charger is a hi-tec ss 1000. This steer has previously respected electricity.

question is, would it be better economically to buy a better energizer ($400?) or get solid wire? The other thing is, these boxes are sold with amp use and volts, but im reading that those dont nessecarily mean hotter spark. AND it matters what its traveling through.

This guy was JUST put into fresh pasture with 12" grass. He was wanting to follow us when he walked through the fence, then he realized he was in trouble and ran.

r scott, can you make a recommendation for fencer? co-op has their own they sell, and the ladies there just say "well, we sell the most of these" which does NOT mean they work the best. Any website is going to recommend the best they offer of their brand for "trouble' cows, and that still may not work since I dont want to burn my kids or myself if we make a mistake and touch it hot. Will it take a fence that hot?

My uncle says his throws 40 joules, and one website I read suggested that 20 will burn a human and 20 will control BEARS. more than that sounds overkill, but I'm new at this to be perfectly honest.
 
R Scott
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Mine has a warning to keep away from small children and people with heart conditions. The next model up tends to start grass fires in dry conditions.

To get enough energy to get a 1000 lb steer to respect through hair, it will HURT you. No way around physics. The shorter shock duration stings more than hurts IMO, but still not pleasant.

For you, buying a roll of wire is probably the cheap answer for now. Most farm store fencers were designed for metal wire and do OK with it. You can use it on a reel if you are careful, the biggest issue is the weight of carrying a full reel so don't put a lot extra on the reel.

Here is the unit I have: http://www.premier1supplies.com/detail.php?prod_id=394&cat_id=54. It is EXPENSIVE, but I have burned up two of the "high-end" farmstore fencers, and they never did as good as this one. They were OK for regular wire up to a point, but were miserable on polywire. Even the one that was supposed charge 30 miles of wire didn't do much past 3 (it doesn't take much multiwire fence to reach 3 miles of wire). It is "only" 6 joules but it delivers it pretty much under any conditions. Many of the big joule ratings are that--just lab ratings that don't mean much in the real world. If the impedence doesn't match the wire and ground conditions, the energy doesn't flow.

For a better than farmstore on a budget, Stafix or Speedrite (both made by tru-test):
http://www.premier1supplies.com/detail.php?prod_id=51665&cat_id=170
http://www.kencove.com/fence/detail.php?code=EXD2

I picked the 2 joule, as it is the sweet spot in power per price IMO, but buy the 3 if you need it. If you need more than that, I suggest buying multiple chargers instead of one big one. These also make a great solar setup if you add a deep cycle and solar panel (from a good solar supply, NOT the fencing companies).

 
matt sorrells
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r scott, what makes the charger I have so weak compared to the ones you suggested? the shock duration? Is that why some are so much more expensive, is better electronics so they can have a hotter shorter hit?

 
matt sorrells
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what about one like this?

http://www.kencove.com/fence/detail.php?code=ek6
 
Manfred Eidelloth
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@matt:
The 25 x 25 is measured in feet?
Now wonder, he is stressed.
If he was born in a herd and not grown up by the bottle, it is already most stressing for him to live alone now. But if you put him in such a small area, with electric wire right in front of his nose all the time and nowhere to go to calm down, it´s astonishing he kept in there for the first 24 h.
Get him some company (if you cannot get another cow, than at least another small grazing animal or two) and make your grazing cells far bigger.
It is called mop grazing as it is done by a mop of animals. Gregarious animals feel secure in a mop. If they cannot feel secure, they need more space to make sure their flight ignition distance is preserved.
 
R Scott
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matt sorrells wrote:r scott, what makes the charger I have so weak compared to the ones you suggested? the shock duration? Is that why some are so much more expensive, is better electronics so they can have a hotter shorter hit?



Yes. It is the shock duration and impedance.

You usually see impedance talked about in electronics when you talk about speakers, antennas, cable and radio frequency stuff, but you are driving the fence with a pulse which takes that same kind of response. If the impedance does not match, most of the power bounces off the connection and reflects back to the source--loose wires, dry grounds, grass load, mis-matched wire can all do that. Cheaper charges use brute force, run 10-15 Joules at the charger but only get 1 or 2 into the wire and even less into the animal. Better chargers use low impedance which matches the most likely conditions. The high end fencers use impedance matching electronics to make sure as much power goes out into the line as possible and will adjust as needed.

To get that really sharp quick pulse , you need much more expensive components. The cheaper components have a rounded pulse so they send a lot more amps out to get to the same peak voltage, so much so that you can melt polywire and still not have a really hot spark.

But I don't know if a hotter spark will help or not, some animals just learned the reward is worth the pain. A real wire might add enough physical resistance to slow him down to take enough hits to turn around, it might just pull out all the pigtails and make a bigger mess.

If I were in your shoes, I would spend the money on a roll of metal wire (cheap and fast solution) and then save up to build perimeter fence. Make sure you use metal T posts or stronger for the corners of the temp paddocks. Having one steer get out is a PITA and liability problem, have a herd out is a nightmare.
 
R Scott
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matt sorrells wrote:what about one like this?

http://www.kencove.com/fence/detail.php?code=ek6


It should be good based on kencove's reputation, but I don't have first or second hand experience with it. I do have person experience with the premiere and trusted friend's experience with the stafix.
 
matt sorrells
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Location: Canton, NC
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I just spoke to a kencove rep and he suggested that one, and he said also that I NEED a permanent perimeter fence and a larger joule rated charger. Its worked so far since I have a physical barrier electrified, but since he could just walk through the other, he quickly learned he could. He suggested a better fencer, with better fencing, and a perimeter fence.

Manfred, that was a general guess, it was really probably more like 40 by 40 and he is a lone animal bottle raised (spoiled) and he was trying to follow us.

I was attempting to get the hang of rotating stock before I added more cows.
 
R Scott
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I made my mistakes with materials and methods, too. I have piles of wire that aren't on fences anymore. I have chargers that have come and gone. And my bill to both kencove and premiere this year were SHOCKING.

Live and learn. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly to start with.
 
matt sorrells
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you've watched Joel Salatin's vids too! lol

I was just trying to be funny! anyway, I love Salatins videos, I just wish he spoke of his perimeter fence and his energizer too.

 
matt sorrells
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Just wanted to retouch on this issue I had to let everyone know the solution I finally completed.

Thanks to everyone for their responses and help!

I ended up making my pasture larger (1 acreish to 3 acres) and using HT wire for the perimeter pulled tighter than before. I also used a hot-ground-hot setup for the 3 wire perimeter, with ground rods spaced around the pasture. I have 3 8-footers at the barn, one 8 footer on one end of the field, 1 in the middle opposite the barn, and one on the other far end of the pasture, with all of them being tied to the center wire. This makes for a HOT spark, just ask my youngest son who has a hard time putting the gate back up! I also went with the Kencove 6 joule unit with the diagnostic lights (LOVE it!).

I have 5 paddocks in this 3 acre area, with a sacrificial area under the oaks in the backyard for shelter and cud chewing. Plan to add permanent water source in this area - already have a large bin for it, but I want an autofill one.

I may add two more wires around the bottom of the fence, but currently they eat back to 6 inches beyond the fence under it. I only have a problem with taller weeds 1 foot or more back that lean towards the fence, but so far no weeds (even wet) have sufficiently grounded the wire to cause any change in voltage or throw a diagnostic light on the box.

All my paddocks are separated by a single HT wire (instead of polywire) pulled tight. I reasoned that the HT has less resistance to electricity flow, so it'd be hotter. I have this at 32" high and no cow has went through it yet.

I'm going to fence in the next 12 acres with the same techniques in the next few weeks hopefully with a lane down the middle to the water source and oaks. I like having the cows within view of the house often.
 
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