Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Solar-Powered Cow Containment

Ever since we got these cows we have intended to practice rotational grazing: rotating the cows from one small pasture to another small fresh pasture to force them to completely graze an area while allowing the previous pasture to recover. This method reduces weeds and improves the quality of the pasture. It also allows us to use our yard as pasture--increasing our cow-supporting habitat significantly.
We had experimented with this method when the calves were very small and they kept escaping - we had only used 2 strands of wire and they sneaked under. Then I mowed and the grass wasn't tall enough for grazing. Then we took the fencer away to use for the pigs. NOW we have a new Zareba solar-powered fencer, an unmown section of lawn and we have successfully contained our cows in the front yard.
The solar fencer electrifies the fence without having to drag extension cords out to our temporary pastures. The portable fence is easy to move--it has plastic poles that you just step into the ground. We have strung three wires around the perimeter-one at nose-height for each of our cows. After just one or two jolts the cows have learned to keep their distance from the wires and have not attempted to go through.
This fencing method requires a bit of rigamaroll- we have to move water containers and the salt and mineral blocks to each new paddock. It also requires that I suppress my mowing aesthetic--I have to let the front yard grass grow tall and scruffy for the cows to graze. But I sure love the view of cows browsing in the front yard!

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