Monday, May 3, 2010

Adventures with my cows

 put my cows out on the 10 acre parcel that I purchased a couple of years ago.  I had it surveyed to determine where the property lines are, and then build a corral (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5), fenced it, 4 strand barbed wire and put in some gates.  Made it ready to run cattle on. 

This is what it looks like now, complete with cows.   These are my $5 calves, all grown up.  They're 20 months old now, and I'll probably slaughter them this fall, after they've fed on the lush grass all summer.  They weigh about 1100lbs each. 
There's 4 strand barbed wire along 3 sides of this parcel, but on the 4th side i used field fence.  The property adjoins on county park land, and I wanted to keep my livestock out of the way of the dogs that are regularly walked along this edge.  The problem is that field fence really doesn't deter a cow at all.  These big holstein steers stretch their necks over the wire and using their throat push the wire right down the T-post.  The fence clips eventually slide down, and then the cow just steps over the fence. 

I didn't know that before, but I sure do now.  Here's the story: 

I checked the cows at 10am, and they were all good, happily eating their grass.  This was their third day out there, and they looked fine.  Apparently, about 4pm, they did this to the fence, climbed out, and then spent the day grazing outside the fence.  When they got tired of that they wandered up the driveway and into a housing subdivision down the street.  Apparently they had a good time eating peoples shrubs and flowers and generally making a nuisance of themselves, so much so that the sheriff was called, and a livestock hauler, and they got hauled off to the place that snohomish county has contracted to take "rescue" animals.  Everson Auction Market, in located in Everson, WA.   Very close to the canadian border. 

So when I went to check on them the next day, all i found for 3  hours of searching were cow tracks.  When I purchased the property I introduced myself to the folks who owned the houses on either side of the driveway, gave them my card, and asked that they call me if they had any questions. 

I finally went and asked one fellow if he'd seen anything, and he said he had, that someone walking the park had used his phone to call the police.  So I called the police too, and they said that the animals had been transported at 7pm the night before. 

Everson, Wa.  is 80 miles north of my farm.  It's an hour and 45 minutes if the traffic is good, and now I've got to go get my stock trailer and spend basically a whole day to get my darned cows back.  And pay $250 to the company that took them there.

I'll write that up tommorow.  It had an unexpected benefit.


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Anywhere we have field fence, we have two strands of barb wire above the woven wire. Spacing is about 4" above the wire, skip 2" place second wire. It won't deter determined bovines, but usually saves the woven. Can you put an offset hotwire there too deter them for awhile?

It's odd they got out with 10 acres of grass to eat. Could they have had help? Either way, cows out are a pain - glad you located them.

sheila said...

$5 calves can get expensive. I await the continuing saga.

Across The Creek Farm said...

Man, that stinks bruce.

Marianne said...

Our elderly neighbors "lost" their 3 calves the same way about a month ago. It took many calls to the sheriff and 4 days to finally locate them at the vineyard about 2 miles up the road. They were like ghost cattle, only coming out at night. Thankfully, they ate the grass and not the grape vines. I think we'll stick with sheep. Hope it worked out OK for you.

Craig said...

Bruce,if you have access to electrical power to where your cows are, build a four strand high tensile(all wires hot)fence and you will never have a problem with cows getting out as long as there is juice in the fence. The fence is easy to build and low maintenance.If you don't have power, use a marine battery. Solar chargers are undependable.

DB said...


I have 7 Dexter Cattle and I use high tensile fencing and have never had a problem with lost cows. I highly recommend it. The only time they got out is when I left the gate wide open. I use electric fence tape on the inside of my 5 wire fence and they respect it. I also use a Koehn drive thru gate which I purchase from Kencove fencing. Greatest thing I have bought for the farm. Check it out.

David on Whidbey Island

Anonymous said...

I unloaded 2 steers into my pasture (fenced in barbed wire and the neighbors dog started yappin and they ran to the other side of the pasture and right thru my fence as they were just weaned they had no problems going thru it! anyway to make a long story short they escaped up the mnt. and were seen and even chased a few times but in the end 18 days later i got the last of the 2 back at 6 am one morn. (18 days after the great escape) he stood in my driveway wanting to join my herd of cows opened the gate a lil cohorsion and he went in on his own and never tried to leave again and it's been about 6 months now oh yes the other one was bull dogged by a neighbor at around midnight making a ruckess tring to join their herd so ended up good for me! then i buy 2 pigglets go to put them in the pen and the first one squirmed out of my grip as i turn to try and catch him he lil brother jumps to his freedom as well so the next 1/2 hr i chase 2 lil very very fast and agile pigglets around the pen untill they also decided own their own they kinda would like to be in with my other 2 and went in own there own ! So I guess the moral to this story is "Just wait till the cows and pigs come home ! lol

Bruce King said...

It's pretty amazing what an animal can do when they're motivated. With pigs I've found that they always want to go back into the same place they came out -- sounds like yours are the same way. Glad that everyone got home -- after 18 days I would have been sure that they were gone for good!