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VAWA Dossier | Virtual Fencing

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Given the aversive training methods of cow collars/wearables and the uncertainties about the long-term impacts on animal welfare, VAWA does not support all aspects of virtual fencing technology.

VAWA has five key concerns regarding virtual fencing technologies:

  1. aversive training methods (ie electrical shock).

  2. unknown long-term animal welfare effects

  3. unknown impacts of mobile virtual fencing

  4. breakthrough, bolting and boundary management

  5. technology glitches.

Electrical shock is known to be a significant aversive experience for cattle. The UK’s Animal Welfare Committee recently published an opinion of virtual fences and noted:

“Research should be undertaken to find livestock training methods that could replace the current use of aversive electric shocks. If these new methods are demonstrated to be reliable, electric shock training methods should be rapidly phased out of use on livestock.”

In the Deer Code of Welfare Evaluation Report, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) noted:

“f) Aversive methods for introducing animals to new technologies should not be used.”

In the Dairy Code of Welfare Evaluation Report (ER), NAWAC noted:

“Aversive techniques for training animals to new technologies should not be used (Recommended Best Practice under Minimum Standard No. 10).”

Given gaps in current understanding, and the five concerns outlined above, VAWA does not support all aspects of virtual fencing.

Other activity

March & April

  1. Agribusiness published our views in this article on virtual fencing.

  2. RNZ's Country Life linked our Dossier on the bottom of their story, "Golden Bay farmer opposes virtual fencing."

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