The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Judge a fence by ease of climbing


March 30, 2018

Rather than regale you once again with tales of spring shipping, let’s talk about the first destination of the cattle mustered on such mornings.

Known also as corrals, the pens are the construct that is intended to keep the cattle restrained in what one always hopes is a rather certain manner. Alas, there are no guarantees when dealing with living creatures, and mechanical constructs have their battle with physics, deterioration, and that old trickster Murphy, of course. Nonetheless, the pens are the grounds where it is intended to be most difficult for livestock to get out.

Thus, when judging a set of pens, this metric of greater containment is quite high in relevance.

The need for the requirement is so that the cattle can be “worked.” By which is meant, the cattle can be sorted, loaded, separated, and otherwise managed by close interaction and some ability to control their movement. Given that cattle cannot be convinced to walk into particular pens or separate themselves with the verbal diplomacy of words, the language of fences, gates, monosyllabic hollers, sticks, and waving hands is what you’ve got to use. The likelihood that the parts of the pens can withstand the force of the livestock, the easier it is on everyone.

The next most important feature of those barriers is how easy they can be climbed by us two-legged animals when the ones with four legs and more muscle mass decide to call our bluff. A good cow-handler can win a staring contest with a cow that outweighs them by a thousand pounds. Winning the constant contest of stubbornness is one of the key components of motivating animals that really have the upper hand by more than a little with respect to the more physical realm.

The mental power differential is enough that it works most of the time, but as with anything with any sort of mind, cattle vary over the spectrum. There are cases of too dumb, too smart, an uncooperative disposition, and the rare bovine who suffers from a homicidal impulse. No matter the diagnosis, when it gets to the that point — and you’ll know it when it does — the fence better be scalable.

It is preferred that the fence be easy to climb in any state of mind. But, the bottom-line requirement is that you don’t have to jump more than twice as high as your normal ability. A bull of any color gives you wings when it’s about to be where you’re standing and it isn’t slowing down.

Audra Brown will judge your corrals. Contact her at: [email protected]


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