Offset Fencing – An Option for Keeping Wily Animals in Pastures

This is my second summer buying, breeding and flipping yearling heifers in New York. I use two-day moves and high density grazing to get good animal performance and pasture utilization. My success of depends on my herd respecting a single electric wire. To make sure they have that respect, I've made some adjustments to my fencing. Here's what I've learned. Choose Heifers Trained to a Single-Wire Most of the heifers I buy are already trained to a single polywire upon arrival at my farm. This prevents most containment issues before they happen. The best yearlings for a single-wire grazing program are ones born in a single-wire cowherd. Don’t set yourself up for escapes by buying cattle that have never seen a single wire before. I did buy a group this year that were raised on a three-wire perimeter only, but their extremely docile temperament made me confident that they would train well. Acclimate New Animals to the Herd and the Fence I don’t recommend delivering new arrivals into polywire, unless they are unloaded directly into an existing trained herd. Even then, it is probably better to put them in a hard-sided corral for a day or two, until they get over the trucking stress and acclimate to their new home. Keeping them isolated from your other cattle for a few days also allows you to detect and treat potential health problems. If your cattle are not already trained to electric fence, this is a good time to introduce them. (Check out Don Ashford's technique here.)

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7 thoughts on “Offset Fencing – An Option for Keeping Wily Animals in Pastures

  1. Really good article – I like that.

    If introducing a naive group of cattle to another mob I’ll put the mob into a paddock that is securely permanently fenced and is big enough to provide 3 days grazing on half the paddock. I split the paddock with 2 strands one above the other with the movable water trough underneath so that it waters both sides of the fence.

    The mob go on one side and the naive cattle are introduced (hungry) to the other side. They will hesitate before trying to mix/greet the other cattle on the other side of the fence and the fence provides a useful hesitation for them as they stare at their new pals across the fence. They sniff it – touch it with their nose and BAM! They are trained. I find that they all get trained in about an hour.

    I leave them in for 2 days then take the fence down so they are together for another day across the whole area and then move them onto the grazing platform on the 4th day. Works a treat.

  2. If anyone is interested, there is a relatively new method for receiving new animals that allows you to quickly remove the stress from them and to accept not just acclimate to the new conditions they will be required to live under. Bud Williams claims to have used the same method for receiving new animals for 40 years before he passed away in 2012. I guess it really does take 50 years for new ideas to take hold. When I first learned about it, I couldn’t and still don’t understand why all of his methods are not being taught and accepted by more people.

  3. I can see the pictures….excellent article….i had my stockers run through all my polywire this year on their first day…took about two days of me sitting and reading next to the water tank until they got used to me. It’s always easier to pull new animals than to push them but now that we are familiar and they understand that every time they see me they are going to get something good (new pasture, treats from the bucket) I am able to scratch some of the less anxious ones.
    Next year I dont plan on having the polywire up, get the cattle used to me and then start fencing them in as we all calm down.
    great read!

    1. Hi Michael,

      I checked the photos, and they show up for me. I’m wondering if it is an issue with your connection. Could you try reloading and let me know how it goes? How about other readers? What are you seeing where the pictures should be?

      Thanks!

      Kathy

      1. Still not seeing them. Tried 2 different browsers on 2 different computers. Evidently it’s something here. Thanks.

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