Out on the pasture for the first time

The calves really take off when they go out to pasture for the first time. (Photo: Ulrich Steiner.)

It’s always a feast for the eyes when cows and calves are first allowed out in the spring to graze. You can really see their joy. They lift their tails, gallop along the grass and perform real aerial leaps. You might think they don’t get enough exercise in the winter, even though they are always free to move around in the barn or the exercise yard during the cold season. But it’s not the same. The lush grass under their feet, the soft earth, the ample space – all this probably triggers in the animals a feeling of boundless freedom and joy. For calves born in the barn during the winter, the pasture is something new. They may not dare go out at all, as can be seen in this video.

But of course their freedom is limited. An electric fence ensures that the animals don’t break out and run in front of a car, for example.

The little calves born in winter must first learn that this fence exists. It is true that, especially when they are still very small, there is little danger of them straying far from their mothers. But the bigger the calves get, the more adventurous they become. Then it’s important that they see and respect the electric fence.

The older animals rarely come near the fence. They already know that it gives them an unpleasant jolt. But the calves must first learn to recognise the wire, which is not so simple. One aid for the first few days is a luminous plastic ribbon, as can be seen clearly in this video.  Then they have to make the experience that the wire jolts. Until they have learned this, it’s important that the pasture environment is safe. Because it can happen that the little calves slip under the wire or the young animals simply break through it in their unbridled joy.

Their first grazing is an adventure not only for little calves. (Photo: provided)