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Electric Fence Weaning Works Great
Rob Davidson lives on a ranch in northeastern Alberta near the small town of Two Hills. He has raised and pastured cattle for many years, using rotational grazing with electric fence. He has discovered that when it comes to fence-line weaning, electric fence works best.
    “It’s amazing what you can do with electric fence. You can use portable electric fence for sorting, loading cattle, etc. Once cattle are trained to an electric wire, they don’t question it. You can even make a “fake fence” out of baler twine to temporarily block a driveway or some other area you don’t want the cattle to enter.
    Davidson says he’s found that an electric fence works better than non-electric fence to wean calves. Calves that grow up around electric fences have great respect for them and are afraid to touch them.
    The calves will sleep a little bit away from the fence because they are afraid of that thing that bites them, even though their mothers are right on the other side. If they get shocked while wanting to nurse, they associate that nasty experience with nursing and don’t want to try to approach mom that closely again. It’s a mental association that dissuades them from wanting to nurse.
    “At that point in the calf’s life, all mama is for that calf is a source of food. Mama teaches the calf to graze and what to eat, where to go for water, etc. because they travel together and the calf mimics mom. But the desire to nurse can be altered with an electric shock,” Rob explains.
    The deterrent, however, has to be applied when the animal is thinking about nursing - coming to the fence to get to mom to nurse - so that the two things are associated and connected in the calf’s mind and memory.

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #1