Nofence Grazing

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust uses a method of keeping cattle in a location without fencing them in. I asked what no fence grazing is and got this reply. Before I start, I want to say that I am very aware that criticism is easy and it may be that the experience of herds with nofence is entirely positive. But I worry that it is otherwise.

The explanation of nofence is on the website at nofence. A cow is pictured with a collar with a box hanging from its neck.

Nofence trains the animals to turn around on audio. When the animal crosses the Nofence boundary, the collar starts playing an audio warning. The audio warning is a scale of tones, which starts at a low pitch and rises gradually as the animal moves through the boundary zone. If the whole scale has been played, a mild, but effective electric pulse will be given.

So there is it – a shock is delivered to an animal if it ignores the boundary. I prefer the idea of a fence, and I wonder what cows prefer. A fence you can see. It requires no translation from rising tones to a shock that comes from around its neck. How is it to make sense of anything other than that a rising tone spells an unpleasant experience?

One of the advantages touted by the system is that the boundaries can be moved easily. And if they are then a cow cannot reliably relate the rising tone to specific landmarks or its position in the landscape. Imagine being in a field and someone switches the no-go zone. I don’t know.