Virtual fencing has the potential to greatly improve livestock movement, grazing efficiency, and land management by farmers; however, relatively little work has been done to test the potential of virtual fencing with sheep. Commercial dog training equipment, comprising of a collar and GPS hand-held unit were used to implement a virtual fence in a commercial setting. Six, 5–6 year-old Merino wethers, which were naïve to virtual fencing were GPS tracked for their use of a paddock (80 × 20 m) throughout the experiment. The virtual fence was effective at preventing a small group of sheep from entering the exclusion zone. The probability of a sheep receiving an electrical stimulus following an audio cue was low (19%), and declined over the testing period. It took an average of eight interactions with the fence for an association to be made between the audio and stimulus cue, with all of the animals responding to the audio alone by the third day. Following the removal of the virtual fence, sheep were willing to cross the previous location of the virtual fence after 30 min of being in the paddock. This is an important aspect in the implementation of virtual fencing as a grazing management tool and further enforces that the sheep in this study were able to associate the audio with the virtual fence and not the physical location itself.
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