Why Bother With Fences and Management-intensive Grazing?

My friend, Bob Kinford, recently posed the following question during a conversation about grazing management alternatives. Recognize most of my operating experience is in high rainfall & irrigated environments while Bob comes from much more of a rangeland perspective. I wholeheartedly endorse what Bob does with cattle on rangeland. I enjoy what I do in the wet world. Bob asks, "My question would be why one would want to go back to fencing and trying to judge the daily feed? I'm not sure there would be enough benefit to the soil to go to the trouble, especially as the cattle will judge how much feed they need better than you can, which in turn helps animal performance in those areas of sparse, low quality feed." I thought I would list some of the reasons I use portable electric fence for my daily grazing management. Because Bob is all about getting cows into their 'happy place', I thought I would start there. 1) One of the most enjoyable times of day for me is when I get to go out and move fences & shift the cattle. I get exercise, I get to look closely at both the pasture & the cattle. It is just a happy place for me. Some people love being on horseback all day long. I never developed that kind of loving relationship with a horse. I like walking along with my fence reel with cattle. When you use the right kind of portable fencing equipment, it is almost eff

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6 thoughts on “Why Bother With Fences and Management-intensive Grazing?

  1. That’s a great article but my cow horse is the only thing that keeps me same in this crazy modern world so if it’s all the same to you I will keep my permanent fences and move my cows every week. Tried the electric fence once and they don’t work very well on my cows. They either jump over or use their horns and just walk right through.

    1. Hi Walter, I tried a horse for awhile and it drove me insane. Going out every day and moving electric fence is what really helps keep me sane. We all have different perspectives, don’t we?

      If your cows jumped the fence or walked through it, you were probably using the wrong equipment for the job. Most cows that disrespect electric fence usually just haven’t had the right attitude adjustment.


  2. Thanks for tactfully pointing out the we are smarter than the cows. While they will self medicate and get full they are also too selfish to resist eating all the ice cream plants until they are dead and then working down the succession chain until weeds and junk are all that’s left. I like the buffet analogy: If I let my young children (think 2nd grade so = cows mentally) turn themselves loose on a buffet line then all the dessert would be gone then the meat then fruit and a few veggies. The salad would mold and most of the veggies would be wasted. It is healthier for the kids and better parenting to give them a plate with all foods and make them eat that before going to the next (paddock) plate.

    1. Jess, when it comes to being a cow, then cows are actually quite a bit smarter than we are. The unfortunate thing is very often, we don’t let them be the cow they were meant to be.

      When it comes to business management, I would like to think that most of us are smarter than cows. Sadly, sometimes the evidence doesn’t bear out that optimistic perspective.


  3. Jim brings out the fact that there is no one perfect system, depending on location and personal likes.

    Do what you enjoy and get good at what you do.

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