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Electric Shock Collars Keep Cows Out Of Stream
The same "invisible fence" system used to keep dogs at home is being used to keep cows out of a stream that goes through a pasture in Maryland.
Dairyman Bob Greise, of Cumberland, put the electronic "shock collars" on his 100 cows as part of a federally funded water-shed project designed to reduce pollution in the Evitt's Creek watershed, a mountainous area on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border where periodic flooding makes conventional fences impractical.
"I needed something besides conventional fencing along the creek. Conventional fencing would keep the cows out of the creek, but every time we'd get a heavy rain the water would wash out the fence," says Greise.
The Invisible Fence system (Invisible Fence Co., 355 Phoenixville Pike, Malvern, Penn. 19355 ph 800 923-7378) consists simply of a buried wire that runs around the perimeter of the area being protected and a transmitter that sends a radio signal through the wire. If an animal wearing a special collar gets too close to the wire, it gets a mild shock.
Greise buried a wire for about a half mile on each side of the stream. Each of his 100 cows wears a leather choker with a pink plastic box that contains batteries and beeps as the cow approaches the buried wire. The beeps warn the cows that they're getting too close to the wire and may get a shock. If the cow keeps going, it gets shocked.
So far, the system has worked well but there have been some problems, says Greise. "When it's working it keeps the cows out of the creek. With the amount of rain we've had since we installed the system in early summer last year, conventional fences would have washed out several times. The voltage is the same as that used for dogs. It's lower than the voltage delivered by a conventional electric fence. The cows learned in less than two days with little or no training.
"The collars take more abuse on a cow than they do on a dog. They have to be kept fairly tight on the cows and have to be checked often to make sure that they're still working. We had problems with the collars breaking because our cows eat out of a stanchion feeder where the collars can get caught. Another problem is that the batteries are supposed to last 6 to 12 months but some of ours haven't lasted nearly that long. I wish I could use an instrument to check the amount of shock so I would know that it's working.
"Overall, I think the system has a lot of potential if we can get the bugs worked out."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bob Greise, 12200 Mason Road, Cumberland, Md. 21502 (ph 301 722-2554).

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1997 - Volume #21, Issue #3