Cows that escape from their farms might elicit a chuckle from drivers catching sight of a bovine in a ditch. But it’s no fun for the farmer.
“It’s a just a hassle of them being out and I really don’t care for them 12 o’clock phone calls from dispatch,” said David Oborny, who has run a cow and calf operation for more than 30 years about five miles north of Marion.
“And only about one out of ten it’s mine. It’s usually someone else’s in the neighborhood.”
Oborny, like other farmers, won’t tolerate cows that get out. He sells them.
“It’s a pretty big hassle,” Oborny said. “Sometimes there are some perpetual problem makers, but I generally don’t tolerate them. They are easily replaced.”
Asked how many times a cow is allowed to escape before being sold, Oborny said, “Once or twice is enough to make me mad. But if the fence is kind of beat down, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.”
Oftentimes, cows are hungry and when the feed gets short, they go looking. Any perimeters not in solid shape might not hold them back, Oborny said.
Cows can wander for miles.
One farmer in the area who didn’t want to be named said big bulls often push right through temporary electrical fence. But Oborny said cows and bulls generally respect electrical current well, so long as it’s properly grounded. A temporary electrical fence is often put up after the fall harvest when the residue on the stubble fields has good nutrient value, especially closer to Oklahoma, Oborny said.
“Usually the bigger issue is that the smaller calves can dart under the fence if it’s high enough,” Oborny said. “If it’s kind of dry and not grounded real well, they don’t get a full charge. Pretty much all of them respect electricity.”
Oborny recalls that his father had a favorite cow that often escaped.
“He liked that girl, and he had a yolk on her neck so she couldn’t slip through the wires. And it worked.”
Monty Stuchlik agreed that selling cows is the only way to go for a farmer.
“Every time a group of cows sees another cow get out, they’re that much more anxious to get out,” Stuchlik said. “So when that happens, we generally sell them.