The "long acre" often comes to the rescue of many stock during winter as bonus feed that has all been eaten out on the block. Owners think they’re doing a tidy-up job for the local council at the same time. But it’s important to realise the potential problems there could be for stock and their owners under the current law if things go wrong.
Stock grazing the road verge held by an electric fence is generally used for traffic. But they can break out onto the road where the fence has shorted out, or where the electric wire has been pushed over by vehicles or stock.
The law is very clear - the person in charge of the stock is responsible for them and any damage they may create to vehicles, people or to the road or the verge.
Motorists should also remember that if the person in charge of the animals has taken 'reasonable steps' to protect them from the traffic, and motorists ignore these and hit a beast, then insurance companies generally won't honour any claims by the motorists.
Drivers are expected to travel at such a speed to be able to stop within the clear distance of the roadway ahead. If stock is grazing on the road verge, or are loose on the road, the roadway is not clear so extra care is needed.
Today's motorists generally view stock on the road as a nuisance - not like the old days when motorists met more stock and realised that the animals had some right of way. Many of today's motorists don't know how to move through a mob of stock with minimum disruption, so it's the job of the person in charge to assist as much as possible.
Make sure that stock grazing the verge behind an electric fence is properly secured during the day. It's illegal to have them grazing at night. Earthing of the fence should be carefully checked, and the wire kept very tight to make sure hungry stock doesn't push and break out. Double-check the corner standards and use two for extra strength. White fence standards and brightly coloured tape are a good idea to warn motorists.
Only put stock out to graze a verge that is very used to traffic. Also, make sure they are mates to avoid fighting and pushing in the restricted area of the verge. Keep a regular eye on the animals and get them back into the paddock well before dusk.