If you live anywhere near herds of cattle, chances are you’ll have cows on your property one day.
To keep your plants, garden, and trees safe from cows, you’ll need to use fencing or other methods to keep them out of your yard.
Property owners and the farmer might employ various methods, including fencing, strategic planting, herding dogs, or natural barriers to keep cows where they belong and out of your garden.
An effective strategy is providing a simple visual barrier to keep the cows from seeing your garden will keep them out; they won’t covet what they cannot see!
Keep reading to learn more about how to keep cows out of your yard!
What Kind of Fencing Keeps Cows Out?
Barbed Wire Fence
Barbed wire is a cheap and effective fence and is the most popular fencing choice on many farms.
Strands of wire are nailed across wooden poles with a vertical interval of 0.5-1′ foot between the wires.
Make your fence well to prevent tangling and injury to animals.
Like many fence materials, barbed wire fences need checking and maintaining regularly.
A tried-and-true method, an electric fence, or a hot-wire fence is a cost-effective way to keep cows off your property.
Electric fences are made of three or four wires running along a fence with an electric current of 2-3,000 volts at about chest height for the cow.
If 3,000 doesn’t work, increase the voltage up to 5,000 volts.
The purpose is to deliver a startling shock to the animal and deter them from going further, not to hurt them.
While a single wire is effective in keeping cows out of a small area, you might need five wires if a cow is particularly stubborn about wanting into your yard.
A fence post spacing of anywhere from 50-70′ to 80-100′ feet apart is recommended.
Further Reading: Joules and Volts Requirements For Cattle
As the name implies, a field fence or woven wire fence interlaces so cows cannot poke their heads through to reach plants.
This fence is also good for other small farm animals such as poultry, goats, and sheep.
A height of 5′ to 6′ feet is desirable.
Further Reading: Can cows jump? How high?
There should be no more than 8′ feet between poles to prevent sagging, creating a weak fence.
To strengthen the fence, run two strands of wires horizontally 1.5′ feet and 3′ feet above the ground.
A living fence takes a long time to develop but is effective because it is both a visual and physical barrier.
Planting sturdy trees and shrubs such as cypress, grevillea, bottle brush, and hibiscus close together can create an impenetrable barrier.
A living fence may provide shade in hot weather and is pleasing to the eye, and provides shelter for many birds and small animals.
The cows may nibble at your living fence, but they will not break through if it is thick and sturdy.
Related: Are walnut trees bad for cattle?
A virtual fence is achieved by cattle wearing GPS collars and training them to respect the fence’s boundaries.
The collar will emit a warning beep as the cow approaches the virtual boundary.
The collar sends a mild electric shock if the cow continues to approach.
Cattle learn to avoid the boundaries to avoid being shocked.
This option requires towers at strategic locations for communication with the collars and the internet and is managed via computer or smartphone.
Traditional woven and barbed wire fences keep wildlife, such as antelope, deer, and elk, from migrating on ranchers’ lands.
These traditional fences can injure or kill animals when they run into them or become tangled in them.
Maintaining traditional fencing is also costly in time and money.
New wire fencing spacing allows antelope to crawl under the fence and deer and elk to jump over the fence.
While rustic, a wood fence is not a good long-term solution for keeping persistent cows on their side of the property line.
Wood fences are easily destroyed by termites, insects, bacteria, and the weather and must be maintained.
Thick pieces of wood need to be used.
Otherwise, the cows will just break them.
Make Your Yard Unappealing For Cows
Cows enjoy lawn plants and fresh grass for variety and taste.
A good rule of thumb is to never plant next to the fence; what the cow sees, it wants to eat.
Cows may be visiting your yard to get in the shade and for a snack.
Young calves especially like to explore their surroundings.
You or your neighbor might plant unappetizing shrubs between cows and your yard as a living fence.
The types of plants you have are important as well.
Planting poisonous native plants is an option; most cows will avoid a poisonous plant and are likely to be more familiar with plants native to the area.
Some plants cows avoid include:
- Wax Mallow
- West Indian Shrub
- Winged Sumac
- Mapleleaf Viburnum
- Wax Myrtle
- Shasta daisies
- Bee balm
If you elevate your yard at a steep angle up to 6′ feet above the ground, cows will not be able to scale the incline.
Fallen tree trunks and branches make a natural barrier as well.
Herd Dogs To Fend Off Cows
With their powerful instincts, herding breeds are easily trained to keep cows out of your yard.
Some great herders are:
- Australian Cattle Dogs
- Australian Shepherds
- Belgian Sheepdogs
- Border Collies
Corgis are also useful, driving the cows from behind like Australian Shepherds.
Scare The Cows Away
Some cows are skittish and will run away at your approach.
Most cows have an ingrained safety perimeter, and they will move away.
Once you get close enough to the cow, tap it with a long stick, and they will move away.
The sound of your voice and waving your arms might do the trick.