One of our farmhands and I were making the last stop of the morning feeding rounds in a pasture we call "The Mountain." The sprawling 120 acres of hilly open pasture and wooded bottom land gets its nickname for steep hill that offers a clear view across Beaver Creek Bottom. The group of 40 pregnant heifers currently residing at The Mountain receives feed pellets every-other weekday, and we usually find them enthusiastically waiting at the gate on those days. This time they were no where to be seen. We decided to pour the feed into their troughs and then ride up and down the pasture's hills until we could find them. We were unsuccessful, and decided they must be in one of the pasture's wooded areas. We left to attend to other farm chores but decided someone should check back later to see if the heifers ever made it to their troughs.
|A group of forty heifers, some of which are seen here eating spilled feed pellets from the bed of a pickup truck, went missing from their pasture on May 24, 2017|
The heifers were still unaccounted for after lunchtime, so halfway through the afternoon milking I sent the aforementioned farmhand back to the pasture with an ATV to conduct a more thorough search. He discovered an ancient wooden fence post had fallen over and allowed the heifers to step over the barbed wire and into the woods. He called to report back and then began tracking the heifers into the pines.
One absolute truth about pastured cattle is that sooner or later they will get out. We were fortunate in this instance that it happened on a weekday, it wasn't raining, and they didn't reach the state highway. Knowing that we may not be so lucky next time, I hope this group of heifers got the rambling fever out of their system and will resist temptation the next time a downed fence presents an opportunity to escape.
|a view of "The Mountain" pasture from the heifer's exit point in the northwest corner|
|the heifers' wandering took them (and us) through pines, hardwoods, privet, and plenty of briars|
|the heifers sprinted toward their feed troughs once back in the pasture|