Canadian team tests virtual cattle fence

Farm & Ranch Guide – August 2, 2023 by Jamie Henneman

During the summer months when cattle are out grazing on pastures, the work of building and repairing fence, as well as rounding up escaped cattle, is a common chore for most ranchers. But changes in fence technology may offer ranchers a labor-saving option for keeping cattle where they need to be.

Virtual electric fencing is a technology that has been available for several years, but ranchers are often hesitant to use the technology, as it is assumed there will be negative impacts to weight gain and breeding rates. Virtual fence is comprised of a collar that cattle wear, much like an electric collar for dogs, which delivers an electric shock when the cattle attempt to move beyond a set virtual boundary.

However, a recent study by Canadian researchers showed that virtual electric fence for cattle did not create issues with weight gain or breeding, with the data affirming little to no impacts.

“We had a conception rate of 92 percent for the 49 heifers in this study and we didn’t lose a single collar even though the pasture was made up of wooded areas,” said Alexandra Harland, a graduate student at the University of Alberta who conducted the study.

Read the full article about the Virtual Fence project.