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Fenceless Electronic Cattle Grazing System
It might not totally do away with the need for fences but researchers at the USDA experiment station near La Grande, Oregon, say their new "fenceless" grazing system will allow rotational grazing across big open range areas without the need for temporary fences.
Tom Quigley and Art Tiedemann have been working on their fenceless grazing system for several years. They've now reached the point where they're looking for manufacturers to work with them in developing final miniaturized working prototypes.
The system consists of a transmitter that installs in the middle of an area where you don't want the animals to graze. The transmitter sends out a signal over a 360? area. Cattle wear radio-activated ear tags with electrical contacts touching their skin. If an animal wanders into the excluded area, the ear tag picks up the transmitter's signal which buzzes a warning sound. If the animal continues into the area, he gets a mild electric shock that continues repeatedly until the animal leaves the area.
"At first we tried just using an audio warning but they ignored it after a while. The shock catches their attention. So far it's worked with every animal we've tried it on," says Quigley. He notes that the shock delivered is much less than the shock of a typical electric fence, but cattle ears are very sensitive so it gets their attention.
The transmitter can be adjusted to work over a 1/4 to 1/2 mile radius area.
In tests Quigley says most cattle don't need electrical stimulus after the first couple days. As soon as they hear the audio warning, they back off. The ear tags will be powered by 6-month batteries so they'll last nearly an entire grazing season before needing changing. Then they'll have to be re-placed just like an ordinary ear tag.
Quigley says the electronic fencing system could be used for rotational grazing, rounding up cattle, or as a temporary barrier during fence repair. But it probably won't eliminate conventional fencing around the perimeter of a grazing area because of the possibility that the transmitter could go off or that cattle from another ranch without ear tags could wander in.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tom Quigley, USDA Forestry and Range Sciences Laboratory, 1401 Gekeler Lane, La Grande, Ore. 97850 (ph 503 963-7122).

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #1