Keeping male and female farm animals apart can be a tricky endeavor, especially if the female is in heat. And, despite what you might assume, it isn’t always the male who decides to jump a fence to obtain his goal.
About a month ago, I had Marabelle separated in a paddock away from our other cows, because we had borrowed a red bull to breed all the other females. She’s the only heifer that I didn’t want to get bred. Sienna had Marabelle last year, so not only is she a little young to have a calf, but I’m not ready to turn her into a milk cow this coming summer. I wanted to wait until the following year. She’s half Jersey, tame, and I plan to train her as another milk cow.
I noticed one day while the bull was here that he and Marabelle were being awfully friendly with each other over the fence between them. I figured she was in heat but hoped the fence would be enough of a deterrent against an illicit rendezvous. The next day, I saw Marabelle on the same side of the fence as the bull. She had jumped over the fence to be with him. Naughty girl. She’s most likely pregnant now, but I’ll take her to the vet soon to check.
We had another female act just as aggressively when it came to meeting her needs. A couple years ago, we had an older mare on our farm named Willow. We have since sold her, but I still like to tell the story about her little escapade.
One day, not too long after we purchased her, I saw that she was not in our pasture. I was panicked that she might cause an accident out on the road or that we wouldn’t be able to find her. My first thought was that she had escaped to find other horses in the area. None of my immediate neighbors have horses, so we checked those farther away that did. My first couple of searches came up empty. Finally, we found her in with two other horses down the road from us. She had not only gotten out of our fence but had broken into their electric fence. The owner told me I had better get Willow checked, because one of her horses was a stallion. It amazed me that Willow not only found herself a stud, but that she broke out of our fence and into his to be with him. Our vet confirmed that Willow was pregnant, but the pregnancy didn’t come to term.
Male animals can get into plenty of trouble jumping fences, too. It’s not uncommon. The only time we’ve owned a bull at our place, he jumped fence to be with the neighbor’s cows. Our billy goat was no different. He usually stayed in his pen just fine if he was with his harem of does. But if we separated him, he found no problem jumping fence to get back in with them.
This is why most male farm animals don’t get to use their equipment; they lose it.