Category Archives: Cows

Everything that moos on the farm

Mineral feeder update, with some early results


Minerals continue to be a big hit, but still phosphorous (P) is the far and away leader. I refilled the phosphorous (P) section again this morning. It was licked clean. Thats the second refill since I started this. I noticed that the iodine looked like it had seen a bit of attention and while I was filling the P, the cows started hitting the iodine. Looks like they had a serious P need. The best part is that I was able to check Sam’s PH this morning. He is one of the cows that I have seen eating the P. his PH was about 7.8 or so. That’s the lowest any check has been since I started checking.

I don’t know the science behind this yet, but it does seem to be working. It will be interesting to see what other minerals start getting attention as their PH comes back in line. It’s also interesting that my soil tests showed a ground that was too acid, but in P and K was just fine. However the cows seem to need P really badly and they are not acid, but are alkaline. There is definitely more going on than the soil test indicated to me.

Kencove fence charger, and my treatise on chargers in general

Kencove electric fence tester
Kencove electric fence tester. If you have electric fencing, you NEED one of these.

Before we started paddock shift grazing I had some really nice fence chargers that did a great job. They were about 1 joule of power but for one hot wire on top of hog wire with no contact to grass they did great.

Then we added some temporary fencing and stopped having the cows mow the grass right down to the ground. So I bought a 2 joule fence charger. Double the power!

Yeah, that didn’t work. So I called Kencove and asked them what I needed. I had heard great things about the Stafix chargers and they recommended that I get a 6 joule charger! Now were talking. We’re talking massive power, which Miguel confirmed when he accidentally touched a wire. So all was good in cow land.

Then I decided to put the pigs in the pasture. That required putting the wire down on the ground and therefor further into the grass. It also meant adding more high tensile wire which was also in the grass. When we did all that, the voltage dropped all the way down to under 2000 volts which barely keeps cows in and you can forget about pigs.

So back to Kencove I go to shell out even more money. I explain my problem, and let it slide that I hold them personally responsible for not selling me way more than I needed the first time. They recommend I get a 12 joule charger which is double what I have. After several rounds of this I have finally learned and I ask what is bigger than 12 joule. After a snarky comment about a 54 joule unit they sell we settle on the 18 joule charger. Pictured above is the result, through the grass, through all the connections, 6000 volts at the business end of the poly wire. Now that’s what I am talking about.

What I’ve learned.

A charger cannot be “too big.” If it is overpowered it will simply ramp down its output and loaf along. This is speaking of modern chargers here. Now if you go lay against the hot wire, it will ramp up and light you up. I’ve never seen anyone or anything go back for seconds on a hot wire.

Everybody lies. The first chargers I bought were “50 mile” chargers. We estimated that they were about 1 joule. Who knows, they aren’t really rated. Mileage, estimates, ratings, specs. They all are pretty much meaningless.

The day you install your new charger is actually the worst day to test because more than likely prior to spending money you went around and cleaned up all the possible shorts, bad connections, fallen limbs, etc. the fence is wearing its Sunday best when you pop your new charger in place and of course then tests at a great output. Then day by day things get worse as the grass grows, it rains, etc. by the time the power is down on the fence to unacceptable levels, it’s too late to return the charger you bought.

It would have been way cheaper to buy the biggest charger I could ever conceive of buying the first time than to have worked my way up one by one. The only saving grace is that the Stayfix charger will work off of solar so I can use it in the back pasture where we don’t have power. Something I did plan for should it not be big enough.

A proper digital tester like the one pictured is worth it’s weight in gold. The first one I owned came with the Stafix charger. It doubles as the remote. It finds faults but more importantly it gives you accurate readings without having to insert a ground probe. That means you are much more apt to actually test your fence which is really the key. Every time you turn the fence on and off you are also testing the fence. One grounded reel or line and cows are everywhere.

Mineral feeder refill

Today I refilled the phosphorus for the first time. All of the other minerals are completely untouched. The phosphorus was completely empty. Yesterday while giving a tour I saw one of the cows actually eating the phosphorus so this is the first time I’ve seen the cows use the feeder. Again this morning I saw the same cow use the feeder for a different mineral. I don’t know if any of the other cows are using the mineral feeder, I sure hope so

I checked a cows pH this morning and found that it had dropped half a point from when I started the free choice feeder. Their pH is still too high but we are making progress.

Cows in the morning

The cows moving into their new paddock. They are really looking better every day. The coats are improving, they are adding weight, and their disposition is just perfect.

The only issue I have is that the cows have figured out that I don’t electrify the partition fence between them and the water which is what forces them to have to walk to get their water. Therefor they are simply walking through the wire, making a mess and tearing up gear. I connected the hot wire from the other end so they should get a nice surprise today. A week of a hot back fence should solve this problem.


Mineral feeder update

After a few more days of use, it appears that phosphorous was in short supply with my cows. It’s almost time to add more while the other minerals are pretty much untouched still. The phosphorous is on the corner so the rubber is easier to lift but none if the other three corner minerals are being used so it does appear that they are targeting the phosphorous. I looked up what a phosphorous deficiency causes and it wasn’t very clear. Kind of like what is an herb good for, seems like they all cure everything.

I am worried how I am going to move this mineral feeder by hand once I have to go uphill with it. Just going across flat ground its a handful. I’ve dropped 40 pounds this year. I’m starting to find that I cannot just hoss things around like a used to. There is no substitute for mass.