Korbach, 13 November 2018: Pasture fences are an often unknown liability risk for animal farmers. "Although cattle, sheep and horses escape from pastures time and again, resulting in accidents, some of them serious, the safety of pasture fences is still not given special attention in many places. Many of the installed pasture fences are not as safe as they could be and, above all, as they should be. Moreover, the condition of the pasture fences is not checked consistently enough by many owners", states horizont Managing Director Dieter Hake at the presentation of the trend report "Safety of Pasture Fences 2018" prepared by horizont at EuroTier. "The causes can be found in a decreasing quality of many installed pasture fence systems as well as in an unprofessional installation and maintenance of the fences", Hake continues.
The managing director demonstrated the growing risk for animals and humans in view of the increase in road and rail traffic as well as the increasing occurrence of wolves in many regions: "For livestock keepers, this is a double risk. They have a great responsibility with regard to the safety of their pasture fences. They are liable for damages caused by their animals according to the animal owner's liability (§833 BGB). In terms of due diligence, keepers must also ensure that their animals are properly fenced in. At the same time, they are also the injured parties if the wolf overcomes the fences, attacks animals or they escape from the pasture in panic."
For the trend report, the horizont employees had carried out intensive research and additionally conducted expert interviews with animal liability insurers and experts for livestock farming.
Hake made a clear conclusion from these discussions: "Despite the availability of ever better fencing systems and the new possibility of being able to constantly check their proper functioning from a distance, there is no evidence that the number of claims due to escaping animals is decreasing. According to the insurers, the average amount of damage has even increased. Experts generally judge the condition of pasture fences to be in need of improvement."
Based on the findings, the horizont team wants to develop solutions to improve the condition of pasture fences across the board. The main direction is towards greater use of technical aids for 24/7 monitoring of the pasture fences as well as better care and maintenance of the fencing systems. "In this way, every livestock owner could reduce the danger in their pastures," Hake emphasised.
Hake sees the improvement of expertise among trade consultants and users who install and maintain the fences as an important factor. "The technology and the products are there. But they have to be selected appropriately for the respective application and installed correctly. That often doesn't seem to work across the industry. Over the past few years, we have noticed a decline in expertise among expert advisors in the trade, especially in the online trade, as well as among pet owners. This is where we will start with practice-oriented advisory services in order to improve the know-how of all those involved.
On the product side, according to Hake, technical innovations such as GPS devices or special products for wolf protection can already make a significant contribution to securing livestock and recreational animals outdoors. Especially in the construction of electric fences, however, not only the use of safe and high-quality components, but also the right combination of products as well as professional installation are decisive factors for the safety of a pasture fence system.
The situation of pasture farming: Pasture farming still plays an important role for farms of all sizes and especially in organic farming and in extensive grazing of beef cattle. This also applies to sheep farming for professional and part-time shepherds. For horse husbandry, the offer of year-round outdoor exercise and group housing is absolutely desired by breeders as well as by sport and leisure riders.
The risks of pasture farming: But keeping animals outdoors is dangerous, especially if the pastures are not within sight of the farm. Again and again there are reports of animals escaping, sometimes causing serious accidents on the roads. Animal farmers are obliged to ensure that their fences are in good working order. However, this duty of care is not always fulfilled.