Beginning Farmer: The Time the Cows Got Out

Let me tell you a story about the time the cows got out.  Nevermind, I don't have enough time or memory to tell you ALL the times the cows got out haha. I don't even know where to start. 

Let's talk the last few days.  Saturday, Copper, Penny's baby got out through the chicken run.  There was a small hole we didn't notice.  Katie, my sister, and my mom came up to help me get him back in.  On  Sunday, two cows got out, I had to call my in-laws after church to help me get them back in.  Two hours later, David (at work) gets a text from our neighbor that there's a cow out.  Monday, blissfully silent.  Tuesday, I called David right as he was about 5 minutes away from the house, cow got out.  

Herd Animals

So you may be wondering why a cow doesn't get very far when they get out.  The answer is thankfully that they are herd animals.  If the rest of the herd is still in the pasture then they won't go far.  The don't want to be separated from their friends.   

The problem comes in when more than one gets out.  Because now they become a herd.  So when the two got out on Sunday they started wandering.  They went right into our neighbors yard and started eating the grass that was there.  Getting them both to move back towards the winter lot at the same time is the larger challenge.  

When half the herd breaks the fence and gets out, then they are gone.  Often they travel to our neighbors farm where there are more cows there.  This is a bigger problem as we have to trailer them back individually to our farm. This THANKFULLY hasn't happened in almost a year. 

How They Get Out

So here's some back story on why they get out all the time.  When we first bought the property, the former owners used electric wire for their horses.  My sister didn't want to do that, and her horse was the first large animals on the property.  Katie bought a metal round pen for her horse Bella.  When we bought Red with our stimulus check to be a friend to Bella, we put Red in the round pen.  

Then we got the bottle babies and new that they wouldn't be able to all fit in the round pen together.  So David bought barbed wire and started wrapping it around what would eventually become the winter lot.  The thought was that the calves could go in the winter lot and Red would still be in the round pen, but the round pen would be in the winter lot.  David put up the wire but had never done it before.  Admittedly it wasn't done the best or straightest.  

Then we started getting more and more cows.  And the calves were getting bigger and bigger.  Summer came and we put them on the newly create summer pasture.  The summer pasture was done better and with more research and time.  David knew what he was doing at this point and it was done well.  Then came time to put them back in the winter lot.  And now we have 14 cattle.  We have a bull, pregnant heifers, two cows and their calves, and a lot of pretty big steer.  A lot of pushing and testing the fence.  

Changing Weather

In winter it wasn't so bad.  They had the barn and they were more focused on hay and huddling together to stay warm.  But now that the weather is changing and the snow has melted, the cattle can see the grass.  The grass in our neighbors yard looks way better than the stuff they've been seeing all winter.  So they start sticking their head through the barbed wire and trying to reach as far as they can.  And then something breaks, either the wire or the posts, and they are through.  


That is probably why in the last four days they've gotten out three times.  They want the food, and the pasture fencing is just not able to handle it.  Our plan is during the summer, when they are on the summer pasture, to completely tear down the fencing and put up wooden boards.  This way if we ever have to put a different animal in there, they won't be cut on the barbed wire, and also wood can handle more large animals pushing on it.  So fingers crossed we can make it until summer...