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Viral video catches Hartland heifer foiling electric fence in shocking bovine breakout

  • A heifer at Sunnymede Farm in Hartland, Vt., finds the handle to unhitch an electric fence without getting shocked in a viral video posted online in early February 2021. She repeated the escape several times, with the cattle leaving the enclosure briefly before farm staff corralled the herd and secured the fence. (Courtesy photograph) Courtesy photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/11/2021 9:35:55 PM
Modified: 2/12/2021 9:53:15 PM

HARTLAND — The Angus heifer reaches for the bright orange handle holding the electric fence in place with her mouth, unhooks it and lets it go. Then she moves on to the next one.

In less than 20 seconds, the clever nearly year-old heifer managed to open the enclosure that held her and her 42 peers at Hartland’s Sunnymede Farm, in a video that has since gone viral since being shared on social media last week.

Wylie Wood, of Cornish, was working at Sunnymede that day. He and other workers turned their backs for a moment when the escape happened. After they herded the cattle back, he rehitched the fence.

“As soon as we walked a couple steps away, she would unhitch it again,” said Wood, who has worked at the farm for about five years. “The rest of the gate will shock her. She found out somehow that if she grabbed onto that part it would not shock her.”

The cattle managed to get 10 or 15 feet out after the escape artist unhitched the fence, Wood said — the herd seemed confused more than anything. He and other workers were able to corral them back into their enclosure without much difficulty.

“They were all headed out; she was the ringleader,” Wood said. “It was definitely the same cow 100%.”

She did it several times before Wood decided to film her antics for the post that reached across the globe.

The heifer’s name is the uninspiring “H308,” Wood said in an interview with the U.K.-based Daily Mail. But he said the farm will start calling her “Houdini.”

Later that week, Wood was out in another pasture where he found another gate unhooked. He assumes it was her.

“She’d obviously done it before,” Wood said, based on how he watched her easily unhitch the gate.

The heifer’s escape attempts were quickly halted after Wood resecured the fence.

“I have it rigged up so she can’t get it undone,” Wood said.

Now, the handle is wrapped around the post before being hitched. Time will tell if she manages another beefy breakout.

“I guess as famous as she is now, I should set it up to see if she could do it again,” he said.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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