Often, up pops the question of how we keep baby calves within a one wire interior fence. My answer is, “we don’t”. Now, to explain that answer in a little more detail, let me describe how we manage our cow herd. We calve in a 45-60 day period, so all the calves are of similar age. We don’t run separate herds in the same paddock system, so no chance for calves to get into another herd and become mixed. And these are one wire interior fences- our perimeter fences are more substantial.
When we are moving the cows slowly through the paddock system during calving, we rarely have problems with calves becoming separated from mama, as they have what I think of as an invisible leash on them. They might wander a bit, but it usually just takes a little speech from mama to have them hustling back. All seems quite natural as we move the calving cows daily to new grass and the newborn calves learn to follow mama as we roll up the polywire and they get the new stretch of grass.
Where the trouble can begin, is when we move long distances with baby calves. This is where we like having one wire fences so babies can easily walk under the fence if they miss the gate. Even though we make large gate entrances it seems when 200 pair are going through, there are always babies who miss the gate. With a one wire fence it doesn’t really matter, for they can pretty well get through anywhere to catch up with the herd and mama. With a 2 or 3 wire fence, the calves get shocked and sometimes go on through but sometimes get rattled and head off the other way.
One day, as the calves grow, we’ll find a few calves on the wrong side of the one wire fence and have to put them back through a gate as they now are afraid of going under the fence. This is usually the last time we have calves on the wrong side of the fence, as they have learned that the fence can bite!
It also serves as a self-creep feeder…giving young calves first choice at the next sward of young, tender grasses.
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