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Thread: cattle on runway

  1. #1
    courierguy's Avatar
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    cattle on runway

    It took the neighbor's cattle about 2 hours the first day, yesterday, to break thru the electric fence separating my runway from the rest of my place, that I had agreed to let them graze for the rest of the season. I hate to be pissy about it, and want to be a good neighbor, but having them on the runway was NOT part of the deal, not to mention all around the house (with one mooing into the open bedroom window at 3 this morning). I'm flying shortly, and will first walk the 400' to check for fresh cowpies, as we all know getting it, once dried in flight, off the wing bottom is not an easy job, at least not with a Poly-Tone finish. I also need to check my pop up sprinklers (yeah it's irrigated) and see if they have survived.

    The rancher neighbor is at work all day (railroader) and we will get together later today to discuss the situation. I'll give him 3 tries to set the fence back up (his responsibility, not mine, temporary) and keep them out, otherwise I will give him back the uncashed check he gave me for the grazing rights. I don't need the money, though more never hurts of course, did it more for being a good neighbor, but right now I'm thinking it's not worth the hassle. Any input from pilots who ranch? A more sustainable real fence is not in the cards, the e fence was a two wire, with posts about 30' apart. They will all have to come out later as they are in the way of my winter ski runway. The rancher and I are on good terms, no problem there, but even after 40+ years in Idaho I am still a guy raised near Detroit, with no knowledge of the give and take in a situation like this.
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  2. #2
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    What style of BBQ do you prefer?

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    I think if you irrigate the runway you are always going to be dealing with the "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence". They pasture cattle across the road from me and they are always reaching thru the fence to get to the grass on the other side. In a herd like that they will push thru the fence, post on 30 foot spacing probably will not do it, they just get a quick shock and then the fence is on the ground. It probably works for your neighbor where the quality of the grass is the same on both sides, so he just went with what has worked for him before. Did you find where they knocked the fence down? Best of luck.

    Tim
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    Is it an electric fence, or just two barbed wires? If it's not electric, have your neighbor try it. It'll make them respect a fence.
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    RVBottomly's Avatar
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    Not to be a pessimist, but in my experience for that scenario, you need 3 wire electric fence, center wire grounded, and posts closer together. 30 feet with 5-10 cows pushing at the same time--one of them is going to ground it all out and the others will push through.
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    Build a better fence, nothing better than a neighbor with a cheeseburger factory.

  7. #7
    courierguy's Avatar
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    It's electric.

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    Some years ago I kept my Bonanza on a friends ranch strip for 5 years that allowed the cows on intermittently to graze. Runway was fenced with fiberglass poles and poly tape wire with an inner fence band around the shade hangars. Cows learned immediately to not mess with the fence once I put a 6 joule charger on the line. We had 3 bands of the tape with center grounded. The 2-3 joule feed store chargers just didn't get the respect that made it effective. The high output charger seemed to kill the occasional berry vine that crawled up too. The fence had to be checked often because the high output charger would smoke the tape if it became grounded.
    Bonanza wasn't the best plane for the ranch strip but tires lasted forever. Cow pies very bad when you have wheel wells. Touching a 5 or 6 joule fence is memorable.
    Ken

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by courierguy View Post
    It's electric.
    Just have him build it better, then. Twice as many posts, another wire ir two. If he needs grass, he'll do it.

  10. #10
    SteveE's Avatar
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    Your life will be a lot easier if you get along with your neighbor instead of a pissin match. I would try to politely impress upon him that the fence needs to be better. Then if that doesn't work just tell him, hey we tried to get you some extra grass, but this is not going to work.

  11. #11
    courierguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveE View Post
    Your life will be a lot easier if you get along with your neighbor instead of a pissin match. I would try to politely impress upon him that the fence needs to be better. Then if that doesn't work just tell him, hey we tried to get you some extra grass, but this is not going to work.
    Not even close to turning into a pissing match, it's all good! IF it was a permanent arrangement, the fence would be a "real" fence, but it's just for this fall, then it all has to come out, 1/4 mile. So we are both trying to see what works while trying to keep it to the minimum required. No talk or intent of this being an annual thing.

    On my FOD walk of the runway this morning, I was surprised to find only one remnant of their visit, that I could and did, easily avoid by landing a bit long. And the runway no longer is on the verge of needing another mowing job, there is that.
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    CourierGuy;

    From just down the road a piece, I'd say more fence. The electric bit only stops the casual "bump up against it." When they get agitated they just bust right through it. I say 3 strand barb ( remember the antelope wire heights) with posts clearly too close. Metal T posts should work just fine. I am surrounded by BLM grazing land and the three strand antelope friendly fence I have works great. No cows on my runway yet! And those range cows have no manners at all.

    Neighbor had some temp pens of that three wire electric deal that were intended for the roundup last week. They (the fences) didn't last long. Fortunately we managed to contain all bovine subjects and achieve the goal but it got sporty there for a while. Even if it's intended to be temporary, cheap and easy won't work - just like just about everything else involved with cows.

    Best of luck!
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  13. #13
    Doug Budd's Avatar
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    A little cow crap on the wings don’t hurt anything. I use a product called TKO to squirt on the crap and it comes right off . And I do have polyfiber on my cub. On the fence two hot wires would be better then tie a piece of ribbon to the wire in a bunch of places. The cows will be curious and smell the ribbon get shocked on the nose . Now they know the fence is hot and won’t push through it. And as someone else said the more joules the charger the better and posts closer together. We used 30 joule chargers on our buffalo pastures and that held them. But you didn’t want to be standing in wet snow and touch it. Ask me how I know🥴
    Ranchers put cows on corn stalks and all they use is temporary electric fence and it keeps them in. Just have to educate them.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Budd View Post
    A little cow crap on the wings don’t hurt anything.
    Depends on what they have been eating. After the recent heavy rains my favorite local dirt strip had lots of purple flowers. The cattle eat the flowers and their sh!t stains even PPG polyurethane purple. Lesson learned - wash cow sh!t off as soon as get home.
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  15. #15
    courierguy's Avatar
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    I wash my plane maybe twice a year, whether it needs it or not. So, not a squeaky clean plane type here, far from it, but my experience with cow crap is once it's dried, the only way to get it off is with plenty of water to soften it up, and then a plastic pot scrubber or finger nails, at least with my Poly-Tone, maybe a shiny Aerothane type finish it comes off easier, probably. TKO? I'll check it out..., I like the spray cleaning products that use a citrus ingredient, pretty good for oil stains even, I use the stuff on my crane and the plane, doesn't bother the Poly-Tone any.

    They got back in this afternoon, seems now that they know about the better feed up here, they are more determined, my half ass fence repair on the long term "real" fence on the property line (as opposed to the temp e fence, all on my property) that the rancher opened up to allow them access to my place slowed them down but didn't dissuade them. I closed it back up a bit better, we'll see if that keeps them down there while we repair the e fence. More crap on the runway but still not too bad, and all down low so I can just avoid it so no problem. I just hope if they get back in tonight (probably/most likely is my guess) they don't hang out by the open bedroom window but stay a ways away. None of this would be a factor if I didn't fly, have a strip, and lived in town. Point being, any cow hassle is all part of my flying so not a big deal and nothing I can't live with or make right. I can always sell out, in a heartbeat, quit flying, and move into a nice squeaky clean neighborhood in town and live like normal folk. That's a joke.

    2 minutes later: Googled TKO, see it's citrus based, got a bottle on it's way via Amazon Prime, as part of a back plan.
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    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Once the buggers figure out they can breech the fence and the other side makes it worthwhile, the darn fence is merely an inconvenience to them. I had a couple of confirmed fence breakers at one time - what a pain. But HIGH power electric sounds good. I betthis one would be educational - https://cyclopsfence.com/products/cy...&kwd=&device=c
    Gordon

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  17. #17

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    Yeah, two wire electric won't do anything. I have had good luck with 4 wires. You have to make sure nothing is shorting any of the wires, even a branch or grass will drain off the charge. The solar ones work for a little while, but the batteries seem to be a weak point. Better if you can plug the charger in to 110. I have one that reads out the voltage on the controller so you can know if it is being grounded anywhere. Barb wire is more consistent (again, 4-wire). They both need maintenance every spring.

    John

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    hotrod180's Avatar
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    Kill the lead cow (make sure the others are watching),
    then give them the "I'm watching you" business.
    Works every time.

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  19. #19

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    Two wire electric fence should be more than adequate witha industrial strength charger. Make sure the charger has a good ground
    After the cows are fence broke you shouldnt have any more escapees.
    We run miles of electric fence and never have issues with a single wire once the cows get educated.


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  20. #20

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    1/4 mile of fence?
    Any self respecting backcountry pilot ought to be able to operate out of 300’ no?

  21. #21
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    ^^^^^
    ??????

    It has nothing to do with pilot skills or the length of the strip. He has 1/4 mile of fence he is dealing with. If you look at the picture of the first post you can clearly see it is not very long and he states he walked the first 400' meaning to me he only needs 400'....Regardless of how long his strip is it is not about pilot skills, it's about cattle, fences, and maintaining a relationship with a neighbor.
    Last edited by Grant; 09-10-2021 at 06:56 AM.
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  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grant View Post
    If you look at the picture of the first post you can clearly see it is not very long and he states he walked the first 400' meaning to me he only needs 400'
    I measured 450 ft from the wind turbine to the end of the cleared runway. Not much grass on the last 50 ft though at least not back in June.

  23. #23
    courierguy's Avatar
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    440' total, counting the staging area up on the driveway, plenty with a little help from the 14 degree slope for the S-7S.

    My temp repair to the permanent fence has worked two nights in a row, the cattle congregate at it, look at it, and then meander off. No repair work done yet on the e fence, so the rancher and I are in a holding pattern, and I still have his check to give back to him if he just wants to call it quits. I'll even do the removal of the temp e fence. He doesn't own or live on the property below BTW, so not really a NEIGHBOR neighbor, none the less I'd rather the property continued to be grazed by him rather then sold off and developed, thus my interest in making it work if at all possible.
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  24. #24

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    I was on short final in a RV 6 after midnight and noticed the runway edge lights were blinking wierd and my landing lights were picking up lots of faint blinking lights moving around on the runway
    I pushed levers forward and made a low pass over about 40 angus cows now stampeding down runway 17
    Made another pass and landed, got out hose and rinsed cow poop off belly and wing bottoms


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  25. #25
    Hardtailjohn's Avatar
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    It's not how many wires, but how hot the charger is!! Our wolf fence will arc about 1/4", and you wont be able to pick up a coffee cup with that hand for a few days. GOOD grounds and GOOD chargers are the way to go! We also use the 2" white "tape" from Gallager as that provides a visual as well. Works great!!! Take some surveyor's ribbon and tie it on the wire between posts and that will help as well.
    John
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  26. #26
    courierguy's Avatar
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    E fence back up and now grounded to my wind turbine tower ground: 4 rods in a 20' square, all connected with buried copper wire. The rancher had used a single short rod
    , in dry ground, I didn't think to tell him about the better tower ground 8' away until this second go around.. Saw the first cow make contact with it, all the others (20) were closely watching, he jumped back , spooked the others, and they all moved on and seemed to have lost interest in my runway. Fence unit is labeled as good for 5 miles. Came back today from a 3 hr breakfast flight, and had the runway to myself, looks like I'm in the cattle business.

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    Glad you got a handle on things, but I cant help but thinking about Far Side humor when following this thread.
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  28. #28
    hotrod180's Avatar
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    Better go over & piss on the fence, just to make sure.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

  29. #29
    180Marty's Avatar
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    My way of testing an electric fence is to take a blade of green grass and touch it to the hot wire. Start four or five inches away and slide closer. Have your other hand on the ground. If you can feel the pulse through the blade within a couple inches of your fingers, you don't want to actually touch it.

  30. #30
    courierguy's Avatar
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    The steer used his nose, guess he didn't like the way it smelled, from his reaction. The others were smart enough to have him be the e fence dummy.
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    I definitely feel as I can relate to both parties here:
    I own and operate a family cattle ranch in Montana. I also have a outside pilot job fighting wildfires for the USFS.
    In my experience cattle will respect and not push a temporary electric fence as long as it’s hot (+6 joules)!!!
    The number of feet between each post and number of wires may make some difference however; in my opinion it’s not a contributing factor.
    It greatly helps if cattle are accustom to a hot electric fence they simply won’t make the same mistake twice.
    I make sure the fence is well grounded and I also like tying survey tape on the fence for better visibility for all animals.
    The grazing you are providing for the rancher is extremely generous. Also thank you for your understanding that cattle don’t always stay where intended. It is true good fences make for good neighbors - maybe just a friendly chat about improving their fence would be benifical.
    I know most people including myself are proud of their grass runways. Cows will improve the quality of the grass/range on your strip if not overgrazed. The manure if harrowed in will also be great fertilizer.

    Best of Luck,
    Jim
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  32. #32
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by courierguy View Post
    The steer used his nose, guess he didn't like the way it smelled, from his reaction. The others were smart enough to have him be the e fence dummy.
    Why is it always the steer who does the test?
    N1PA

  33. #33
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    Why is it always the steer who does the test?
    Not much left to lose.

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  34. #34
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    A university guy told me the fence creates ozone when charged.....that sweet chlorine smell after a good rain or thunderstorm kids detect. Critters approach to investigate something new maybe?

    Gary

  35. #35
    55-PA18A's Avatar
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    I've put in more electric fences to deter bears than I care to think about to protect fish drying racks, chicken houses, smoke houses, dumpsters, remote cabins, campsites and community landfill facilities. It always seemed to me ensuring adequate grounding was the key to success. Different soils and ground type can have a big impact on grounding. Gravel being the worst and moist fine soil the best. For permanent installations I always tried to put in at least two connected grounding rods as far apart as possible. I didn't run a ground wire along with the hot wires, though I know many like to do that. A ground wire running on the fence along with the hot wires requires the animals to touch both at the same time.

    One time I installed a fence around a multi-family fish drying/smoking operation. After getting the wires strung and fence charger hooked up, I said it was time for someone to test it. Everyone sort of stood around and looked at each other, then one volunteered and carefully tapped a wire with his hand. He then grabbed the wire and said "I can feel it, but it's not enough to stop any bear." I told him to place one hand down on the ground, and grab the wire with the other. He did. They all got a good laugh at his quick and vocal reaction. Then I said, "bears don't wear red rubber boots".

    Jim
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  36. #36
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    In Interior Alaska the soil is mostly non-conductive blown glacial silt (really fine rock dust) and larger river rocks. A well grounded bare copper wire laid near the fence can help zaps

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    In Interior Alaska the soil is mostly non-conductive blown glacial silt (really fine rock dust) and larger river rocks. A well grounded bare copper wire laid near the fence can help zaps

    Gary
    Run two wires and tie the bottom wire into the chargers ground. This will get the critter properly grounded... we do this when the soil is overly dry not providing the animal with a proper ground or the ground rod not providing a good ground.
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  38. #38
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    Our wolf/bear fence is 8 wires....4 positive, 4 negative. Touch any positive wire and you'll realize that you don't have to touch the negative wire to get a shock. Plus you wont pick up a coffee cup for a few days.
    John
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  39. #39
    RVBottomly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardtailjohn View Post
    Our wolf/bear fence is 8 wires....4 positive, 4 negative. Touch any positive wire and you'll realize that you don't have to touch the negative wire to get a shock. Plus you wont pick up a coffee cup for a few days.
    John
    I built an elk fence like that around our hay stacks when we had unusually heavy snow one winter. Seven feet tall, too, because some of those critters were athletic.

    It's funny how people would travel a thousand miles for a nice elk hunt and I was chasing them away with a shotgun.
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  40. #40
    180Marty's Avatar
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    ensuring adequate grounding was the key to success.
    I've thought about sticking the ground wire from the fencer into the creek running through the pasture. Seems that would be pretty good.

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