Goats 'mow grass' using new technology – and are now on the run – NRK Nordland

Goats 'mow grass' using new technology – and are now on the run – NRK Nordland

With music and electricity as a warning, a new collar will ensure goats, sheep and cows stay within their grazing area.

But without actually putting up any physical walls.

The new technology is virtual fences, offered by players such as Nofence and Monil. Such fences are becoming increasingly popular, and the system has been thoroughly tested by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

– We draw a digital map on the mobile phone that the goats follow. As they approach the border, music plays from their collars. Then they learn to walk away. If they cross the border, they receive an electric shock.

This is what Sigvald Rist tells us. He is the captain of Skotnes and the outside team surrounding him at Ballstad in Lofoten.

The outside team rented ten goats from Öland Farm to graze the birch forest in the area. They are all equipped with a “Nofence” collar.


On the first day things went wrong. The herd of goats suddenly disappeared from the grazing area.

– They started being where we wanted them to be. But during the first night they escaped into the mountains.

Here, the goats are at home in the Balstad Forest, and everything is just joy and fun. But the joy did not last long.

He hopes they will return soon so they can cut down the birch forest anyway. They've been out for three days. Every day they move a little closer to their intended grazing area.

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He has many theories about why goats run away from their summer jobs.

One theory is that the goat was so homesick that it was willing to receive an electric shock to get out.

-We are 30 kilometers from their house. Rest points out that they may have been a little nervous.

Maybe a dog chased the goats too. Rist has a clear message for dog owners in the area.

-If you have a dog, you should keep it on a leash.

– luck game

Nofence founder Oscar Hovd says there could be several reasons why animals don't stay inside the virtual fence.

-I have a goat myself. Here I also think homesickness played a role, says Hovde.

Oscar Hovd Berntsen

Nofence founder Oskar Hovd Berntsen. Here he shows what their collars look like.

Photo: Tori Ellingseter/NRK

He believes there is always a moment of tension whether the goats stay within the grazing area or escape.

-It's a game of chance. Suddenly, you find a crazy man in the herd, who discovers that one must run away.

It is believed that one of the advantages of “novens” is that the animals have a greater chance of getting away from a predator, as physical fences do not hinder the animals.

-In addition, you will receive a notification on your phone as soon as the predator gets inside.

The farm team has faith

The agricultural team is well versed in new technology. At the Nordland Agricultural Society, they believe virtual fences are the future.

-We definitely see this as the future of grazing. The system has been here for several years. Although there are some challenges with this, we believe that this will be very good in the long term, says Hanne-Sophie Jensen, President of the Nordland Farmers Association.

Leader of the Nordland Agricultural Association, Hanne Sophie Jensen.

Leader of the Nordland Agricultural Association, Hanne Sophie Jensen.

Photo: private

Jensen doesn't use virtual fences himself, but he sees them becoming increasingly common in agriculture.

-It is a much higher investment than putting up physical fences, but it also saves people a lot of work and maintenance. Additionally, she adds, one of the positives is that you can move it depending on where the animals are.

– What are the weaknesses of this?

– There is a risk of predators passing by. But this risk is just as great with physical fences. The most important thing is that this fence does not pose a greater danger to animals.

08.06.2024 at 09.00

Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

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