Cattle responses to a type of virtual fence

C Umstatter, J Morgan-Davies, A Waterhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
243 Downloads (Pure)


Interest in developing more flexible fencing technology to improve pasture and rangeland management is increasing. The objective of this study was to test the efficacy of a newvirtual fencing product and measure impact on behavior, thus potentially allowing positive development of virtual fence systems. The Boviguard (Agrifence, Henderson Products Ltd., Gloucester, UK) invisible fence is now commercially available, consisting of cow collars, a battery-based transformer, and an induction cable laid on the ground or buried in the ground. As the Boviguard collar comes close to the induction cable, a warning sound is triggered and if the animal continues to move closer, an electrical stimulus is triggered.We tested this novel system on 10 cows wearing global positioning system (GPS) collars to pinpoint location and activity sensors to gather behavioral data. Two separate exclusion zones were created consecutively in different areas of a test field, with alternate periods of control,with no fence activity, and virtual fence activation. The systemsuccessfully prevented the animals from crossing the virtual fence line. No changes in general activity or lying behavior were found. There were significant changes in the pattern of use of the rest of the field area when the fencing system was activated. When only the unactivated cable was left on the ground in a final control period, the visual cue alone deterred animals from entering the exclusion area. The trial showed the effectiveness of a collar-based electrical stimuli system. This approach to virtual fencing could provide solutions for management systems where moving fences frequently is required, such as for strip grazing, nature conservation management of specific areas and habitats, and grazers of land where physical fences are not preferred or feasible. © 2015 Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100 - 107
Number of pages8
JournalRangeland Ecology & Management
Publication statusFirst published - 2015

Bibliographical note



  • Animal behaviour
  • Boviguard
  • Cattle distribution
  • GPS
  • Grazing
  • Invisible Fence


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