A cow’s reach is less than an elephant’s

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“I’M off to check some fencing out,” John said this morning. “The cows are putting pressure on the fence bordering the cottage field. They’ll soon have it down if I don’t get something done”.

The problem is the prolonged dry spell has restricted the grass growth and although not eaten up,it is getting perilously close in some of the cows’ fields. We can move them into one of the fields with the sheep, but John is keen for the ewes to have a good bite because they are all feeding lambs. So are the cows for that matter with their calves, but their fields are easy to access with some supplementary feed from the farm. The cows spot a good growth of corn in a bordering field and are not averse to reaching and stretching over the fence to snack on nice juicy wheat or barley. Round one field John has even resorted to spraying off a border of the field so there is nothing to tempt them.

He was chatting about this dilemma over breakfast. We have our nephew staying with us who he is soon off to work as a game ranger in Kenya. He has worked in different parts of Africa in similar jobs- setting up safari camps, conducting tours and a few conservation jobs. His dream is to emerge as a sort of film/journalist/reporter, but it is a hard area to break into.

“We had a problem with fencing and elephants at my last camp” he said.

Apparently it was a drought period and the elephants could scent both water and food in the camp and surrounding field areas. The camp and fields were ringed by electric fences, but these were not always successful in keeping the elephants out as they had developed a special technique for ascertaining if the current was connected without actually getting a shock.

The elephants apparently held the tip of their trunk close to the strand of electrified wire, without touching it, and somehow could sense/scent /divine whether the wire was live or not. If the fence posts were on the outside of the fence and the current was off, the fence was worse than useless as the elephants just pushed the wooden posts over and walked in with a minimum fuss. They even managed to get in without a shock if the current was connected as Thomas had seen them using the fence posts as a trapeze wire/walkway to cross the wire o,n once they had pushed the fence over by using the posts as an earth. No wonder they were such good circus animals.

If the fence posts were on the inside their problem was more complex and the fence more efficient. Then the elephants kept away as they could not access the post to earth themselves against the shock unless they connected with the wire before pushing the post over.

Fortunately we do not have those problems. A cow may have a good reach, but it is minuscule compared to an elephant.