Thursday, December 18, 2014

2015 Winchester State Graded Lamb, Sheep and Goat Sale Dates

2015 Winchester State Graded Lamb, Sheep and Goat Sale Dates

February 2
April 6
May 4
June 15
July 13
August 17
September 21
December 14...

Location: Farmer Livestock Exchange Winchester, Va
Take In 8:00am-11:00am Sale Time 2 pm
All Sheep and Goats must have approved premise ID tags

For information contact:
Corey Childs, Warren County Extension 540-635-4549
Scott Stickley, Farmer Livestock Exchange 540-667-1023
Mike Boden, VDACS 540-336-0753
Matt Sponaugle VDACS 540-383-7983

Sale sponsored by:
Old Dominion Livestock Producers Association
Farmers Livestock Exchange
VDACS - Va Dept of Ag and Consumer Services

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Farm Transition Planning Meeting

Transition Planning event with Jesse Richardson.  The Thursday, January 15, 2015, dinner meeting is hosted by WVU Cooperative Extension in Berkley County, WV at 6:30pm at the Berkeley County Youth Fair Grounds (  Please see the details below from WVU Agent - Michael Harman.  Be certain to call 304-264-1936 to RSVP one week prior to the event.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Health Conference

Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Health Conference

Saturday January 31, 2015

9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Sponsored by the

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine,

  Virginia Cooperative Extension

8:30-9:00          Registration

9:00-9:25          What can we afford to do with the current price of calves and feed?  - Dr. John Currin

9:25 – 9:45       Current issues with cattle poisons -  Dr. Hillary Feldman

9:45 – 10:15      Tweaking your handling facilities -  Jon Vest and Terry Slusher

10:15 – 10:35    The cost to create a pregnancy: AI and Natural Service – Dr. Dee Whittier

10:35 – 10:50    Morning Coffee Break

10:50 - 11:10    Stretching hay -   Dr. Terry Swecker

11:10 – 11:40    Water related cattle disease – Dr. Sierra Guynn

11:40 – 12:00    Current Health Issues – Dr. Kevin Pelzer

12:10                Travel to Alphin-Stuart Arena


All Labs will be 30 minutes Long


Lab 1               What happens in a rumen? – Dr. Hollie Schramm

Lab 2               Current cost of energy and protein: what feeds are deals? – Dr. Sarah Holland

Lab 3               Warming a cold calf – Dr. Dee Whittier

Lab 4               Body Condition Scoring – Andy Allen

Registration Fee:

$5.00 per person

Free to anyone under 18

This fee includes lectures, laboratories, proceedings, and lunch on Saturday. 

Attendance will meet the requirement for BQA recertification for those already certified in the Virginia Beef Quality Assurance program.


This course is being held at the College of Veterinary Medicine on the campus of Virginia Tech.  The registration will be in the College Center.

For more information contact:

Ralph Roop 540-231-9041,

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Ralph Roop, VMRCVM at 540-231-9041 during business hours of  8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations 5 days prior to the event.
*TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

Registration Form

Please print or type – complete a separate form for each participant


Name  ________________________________________________________________



State____________________________________  Zip _________________________

Daytime Phone Number_________________________________________________

Amount Enclosed_______________________________________________________


Make Check payable to: Treasurer of Virginia Tech.  Return form with payment by January 24, 2011  to:

Anne Cinsavich

Phase II, Room 301

College of Veterinary Medicine

Duck Pond Drive

Blacksburg, VA  24061

Orchardgrass Production Meeting to be Held January 8


Virginia Cooperative Extension is hosting an Orchardgrass Production Meeting on Thursday, January 8, from 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at Creekside Plain and Fancy in Edinburg, VA.    Farmers wishing to attend should register in advance by calling the Shenandoah County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension (540-459-6140) by January 5.  There is a $5 per person registration fee payable at the door. 

Farmers across the mid-Atlantic (DE, MD, PA, VA, and WV) are experiencing reduced vigor (fewer cutting and lower yields per year) and early death of orchardgrass stands compared to only ten years ago.  A 15 member task force (called the Mid-Atlantic Orchardgrass Task Force) was organized that represents agribusinesses, farmers, university specialists, and extension educators from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. 

In response, the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture initiated a research program to address the problem.  Mr. Gordon Jones was hired as a doctorial student at Virginia Tech within the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences.  For the past one and one half years, Mr. Jones has been focusing on this issue.  This has included an extensive multi-year assessment of over 53 orchardgrass fields throughout the mid-Atlantic, and research plots focused on cutting height, fertility, and disease pressure.  During this meeting, Mr. Jones will give an update of his research program and provide some of the results to date.  This meeting will allow area farmers to have direct interaction with one of the primary researchers who is addressing this problem. 

            The Mid-Atlantic Orchardgrass Task Force estimates there are approximately 1.1 million acres of “improved” stands in the mid-Atlantic region and this problem is costing farmers over $40 million per year.  Meetings of industry, Extension, and government agencies (USDA-NRCS and USDA-ARS) personnel have been held to discuss the current situation. Discussions at these meetings have identified three potential causes of these orchardgrass problems:

  1. Cutting or grazing too short and/or too frequently,
  2. Pests (primarily orchardgrass billbugs, grubs, and a disease called leaf streak),
  3. Improper fertilization.

These factors are either working individually or in concert to cause significant financial losses to farmers.  However, there are many farmers across the mid-Atlantic who are following all recommended practices who are still experiencing these problems.  Thus, a key recommendation from the Task Force was that research was needed to find a solution.

            A special thank you to the following agribusinesses for helping to sponsor this meeting:  AMVAC, BASF, Bayer Cropscience, Binkley & Hurst, CFC Farm & Home, Dow AgroSciences LLC, Farm Family Insurance, First Bank & Trust Company, Helena Chemical Co., Hubner Seed, James River Equipment, Mathias Brothers, MidAtlantic Farm Credit,  Monsanto Company, Page Cooperative Farm Bureau, Rockingham Cooperative Farm Bureau, Southern States – Front Royal, Southern States – Luray, Southern States – Winchester, Sygenta, Valley Fertilizer & Chemical Company, Virginia Farm Bureau, Wightman Insurance Agency, and Winchester Equipment Co.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

 If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services, or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Robert A. Clark, Senior Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources, at the Shenandoah County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension at 540-459-6140/TDD* during business hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.  *TDD number is 800-828-1120.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Recertification Trainings for Private Pesticide Applicators

Recertification Trainings for Private Pesticide Applicators

for Northern Shenandoah Valley Farmers


Virginia Cooperative Extension will host four meetings that provide full recertification credit for farmers who hold private pesticide applicator licenses.  Farmers do not need to register in advance for these meetings.  Farmers need only to attend one of these meetings.   In order to maintain their license, all farmers who hold a private pesticide applicator license must attend these recertification trainings at least one time every two years.   



Meetings Offering Full Recertification Credit for Both Category 90 and 91


December 9       1:00-4:00 p.m.      Alson H. Smith Jr. AREC, Winchester

December 9       6:00-9:00 p.m.      Warren County Government Center, Front Royal


Topics to be covered at this meeting include:

     -    Pesticide Regulatory Update

     -    Pesticide Safety and Pollinators

     -    Agronomy Pest Updates 

-    Animal Science Update

-    Horticulture Update.



Meetings Offering Full Recertification Credit for Category 90


December 16     6:00-9:00 p.m.      Shenandoah County Extension Office, Woodstock

December 18     6:00-9:00 p.m.      Page County Extension Office, Stanley


Topics to be covered at this meeting include:

-        Overview of Pasture Weed Control Test Plots

                    Matt Booher, Extension Agent

-        Pesticide Legal Update

                    Bobby Clark, Senior Extension Agent

-        Management of Fescue Toxicity 

                    Matt Booher, Extension Agent

-        Pesticide Safety and Pollinators

          Bobby Clark, Senior Extension Agent

-        Innovative Summer Annual Forages for Grazing

          Matt Booher, Extension Agent.



          There are additional recertification opportunities offered in surrounding counties.  Anyone who cannot attend these meetings can contact their local Extension Office to get more information on the dates of these meetings.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, genetic information, marital, family, or veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.  An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. 

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services, or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Robert A. Clark, Senior Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources, at the Shenandoah County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension at (540) 459-6140/TDD* during business hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.  *TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

USDA Extends Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadlines

Enrollment Continues Through Dec. 5; Comments Accepted Until Dec. 15

USDA is extending the deadlines for the dairy Margin Protection Program. Farmers now have until Dec. 5, 2014, to enroll in the voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.  

Producers are encouraged to use the online Web resource at to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. The secure website can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also extended the opportunity for public comments on both the Margin Protection Program and the Dairy Product Donation Program until Dec. 15, 2014. 
Comments can be submitted to USDA via the website at  

Horse Feed Recall

Bartlett Milling Company recalls horse feeds

Two types of feed potentially contaminated with Rumensin

Release Date: 

Bartlett Milling Company has initiated a limited recall of certain horse feeds due to potential Rumensin contamination. The products were distributed to customers and retailers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Rumensin contamination can result in health problems, including mortality, in horses. The products and lot number involved in the recall are:

o   50 lb. bags of Bartlett Pasture Horse 10 Feed - Lot 288

o   50 lb. bags of Cleveland Carolina Champion Horse Feed - Lot 288

The recalled products were packaged in typical brand-specific feed bags. Lot numbers are printed on the front and back of each bag.

Retailers have been contacted and instructed to immediately withdraw from sale the recalled product and to notify customers who purchased the product. Customers should discontinue feeding the product immediately. Customers who purchased this product should return remaining bags to their retailer.

For more information on the product recall, contact Bartlett Milling at +1.800.438.6016 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact Bartlett at 1.336.655.1840 outside of regular business hours.

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shenandoah Valley Nursery Growers Association Meeting

The Shenandoah Valley Nursery Growers Association net recently in Page county.  The group visited White House Natives and Brickhouse Nursery.  Producers and interested individual's enjoyed a educational  session filled with fellowship. For more information on these farms and the meeting please go to the following links.

Monday, September 29, 2014



Horse had not been vaccinated for disease.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) today announced 2014’s first positive case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a horse. The horse, an eight-year-old Paint Gelding, is from Augusta County. It had not been vaccinated for WNV.

Dr. Joe Garvin, head of VDACS’ Office of Laboratory Services, urges horse owners to check with their veterinarians about vaccinating their animals for WNV. “WNV is a mosquito-borne disease,” he said, “and we generally start seeing our first cases in August and September. The disease is preventable by vaccination, as is Eastern Equine Encephalitis, so many veterinarians recommend vaccination at least yearly, and in mosquito-prone areas, every six months.” He adds that mosquito season in Virginia can run through November.

The WNV vaccine for equines initially requires two doses administered three to six weeks apart. The vaccine takes four to six weeks from the second dose for optimal effectiveness. Horse owners should consult with their veterinarians to choose a re-vaccination schedule to protect their horses effectively. Prevention methods besides vaccination include destroying standing water breeding sites for mosquitoes, use of insect repellents and removing animals from mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually dusk to dawn.

Mosquitoes can transmit the virus from bird to bird. Occasionally a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird will then bite a human, horse or other mammal and transmit the virus to them. Transmission between horses and humans is extremely unlikely. Continuous, effective mosquito control can minimize the risk of exposure of both horses and humans to mosquito-borne diseases.

Currently, no drugs exist to treat WNV specifically in horses or humans. The mortality rate in equines is about 30 percent. Treatment for an infected horse consists of supportive therapy to prevent the animal from injuring itself throughout the two to three weeks of the disease. A veterinarian can prescribe treatment tailored to the particular case.

Animal owners should consult their veterinarians if an animal exhibits any neurological symptoms such as a stumbling gait, going down, facial paralysis, drooping or disinterest in their surroundings. Currently, there are live-animal tests for WNV in horses and chickens, but none for other animals, although testing can be done on any dead animal. Animal owners should consult their veterinarians or the nearest VDACS Regional Animal Health Laboratory for advice or information should an animal exhibit symptoms of WNV. The location and phone number of each lab is available at   

The following websites provide more information on WNV and how to protect humans and horses:



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Virginia Tech Income Tax Schools

L. Leon Geyer (, Professor, Agricultural Law, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech
This year we offer three different seminars: 1) Introductory Tax Preparation Seminar 2) General Income Tax Seminar and 3) The new annual filing season program for tax return preparers

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a horse this year. The horse, a two-year-old Arabian male from Suffolk, was vaccinated for EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV) more than a year ago but was not revaccinated this year.  

Last year Virginia had no reported cases of EEE in horses or other livestock. The disease has a mortality rate of around 80 percent, so prevention is a key part of equine health. Generally, EEE is transmitted by mosquitoes. Prevention methods include vaccination, destroying standing water breeding sites for mosquitoes, using insect repellents and removing animals from mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually dusk to dawn. 

In an April 2014 press release, Dr. Richard Wilkes, VDACS’ State Veterinarian, encouraged horse owners to work with their veterinarians to plan a vaccination schedule that would protect their horses from EEE and West Nile Virus. Available vaccines are generally effective in drastically reducing the incidence of both EEE and WNV in horses. For the vaccine to be effective it must be handled and administered properly and be given at least two weeks before the horse is exposed to the virus. Additionally, to stimulate full immunity, horses must be vaccinated twice, about 30 days apart, the first year of vaccination. The vaccines are effective for six to 12 months, so horses should be revaccinated at least annually. In an area where the disease occurs frequently, such as southeast and Tidewater Virginia, most veterinarians recommend vaccination every six months. 

For more information, please contact the Office of the State Veterinarian at 804.692.0601 or consult your local veterinarian.


Elaine Lidholm

Director of Communications

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

102 Governor Street

Richmond VA 23219


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Giving Your Horse the Best Chance During Disasters

Tuesday September 16th at 7 PM Eastern Giving Your Horse the Best Chance During Disasters for Horse Owners


When disaster strikes, a horse’s instinct and its owner’s preparation is the horse’s best chance for survival. Disaster preparation includes training your horse to load in a trailer under stressful circumstances, having an animal evacuation plan, and ensuring your horse can be identified with proper paper work. Join My Horse University and eXtension Horses FREE webinar on Tuesday, September 16th at 7 PM EDT to learn about Giving Your Horse the Best Chance During Disasters. Register for the webcast. Presenters: Karen Waite, Michigan State University and Scott Cotton, University of Wyoming.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Extension Farm & Family Showcase

Shenandoah County Park

Celebrate Virginia Cooperative Extension's Centennial Anniversary and the Farm & Family Showcase

The Extension Farm & Family Showcase is a free event marking the grand opening of the Shenandoah County Sustainable Farm Demonstration and celebrating 100 years of Virginia Cooperative Extension.
  • Hay rides
  • Sustainable Farm Demonstrations
  • Farming Best Practices
  • Biosecurity Education
  • Conservation Activities by Lord Fairfax Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Extension program displays including Master Gardeners, 4-H, Well Water Education, Livestock Quality Assurance, Food Safety & Nutrition, Family Financial Management
  • Food available for purchase



Virginia Tech Copenhaver Sheep Center

Blacksburg, VA

Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25
(10 AM Friday through 3 PM Saturday)

This workshop is designed for individuals with a limited amount of experience in the care and management of sheep. Special emphasis will be placed on the management practices required during and around the time of lambing. Participants will get hands-on experience with a group of ewes that will be lambing during the two-day workshop.

Topics areas to be covered include:
Facilities and Handling, Newborn Lamb Management, Flock Health, Nutrition & Feeding Management

Reproductive Management, Basic Record Keeping & Selection

This workshop is limited to a maximum of 25 participants. The cost is $40 per person. The first 25 preregistrants will be enrolled. First-time participants will be given preference. To preregister for the workshop, utilize the form below. Detailed information will follow receipt of registration (including lodging block details).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Northern Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Summit


Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2014 Northern Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Summit. 
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, and local Farm Bureau boards collaborated to facilitate a Northern Shenandoah Valley Agriculture and Natural Resources Summit.  Approximately 60 agricultural producers, landowners, agribusiness professionals, elected representatives, and county government officials representing the counties that comprise PD7 were invited to discuss issues on a regional basis.  This meeting used a SWOT analysis format  (identification of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to assess the current situation, as well as identify areas that may need further exploration or regional response to support and strengthen the economy and future agricultural opportunities throughout the region.
Summarized Results will be available soon!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Is that Wheat Crop Good Enough to Leave for Harvest?

Recently I was asked to look at some wheat fields to give an estimate of yield. The cold winter greatly inhibited growth of wheat. Many plantings did not tiller as much as is normal. Especially wheat that was planted a little late. Also, as of last week we were at least a week behind (if not two weeks) on normal wheat development. The following is a response from Dr. Wade Thomason, Extension Small Grain Specialist regarding the question of how to estimate wheat yields “ It's not an easy answer, as you know. I would start with a tiller count. Tillers per row ft divided by 0.625. Assume you are going to lose about 1/3 of these. Then a decent estimate is about 0.9 bu of yield per tiller. So, if you have 50 tillers in one foot of row, divide by 0.625 and get 80; then time 0.66 equals 52.8; multiply by about 0.9 and get 47.5 bu/ac est. Now this is definitely not a precise science because so many things affect it at this point, but it should get you in the ballpark. I would not treat the numbers as anywhere close to absolute, just reasonable.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Upcoming Commercial Tree Fruit Meetings

Dear Commercial Tree Fruit Growers:

 Below are the dates for the upcoming commercial tree fruit meetings.  Drs. Keith Yoder, Chris Bergh, and Greg Peck will be providing updated information and will be available for discussions and concerns regarding the upcoming season.  Please find more information and seasonal updates at the Virginia Cooperative Extension – Tree Fruit Website:   To receive email notifications of updates and blog posts, simply go to the website and enter your email address on the right hand side at the “Subscribe” tool.  Below the subscribe tool you will also find links to eXtension and eApples.  All three of these websites are available for your use.

 Our second Spring meeting  will take place this week on Thursday, April 10, from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. 

The agenda includes Pathology, Entomology, and Horticulture Updates and Breakfast will be provided

Thursday, April 24.  In-Depth Meeting 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Pathology, Entomology, and Horticulture Updates

                Program: Dr. Greg Peck (Horticulturist - Virginia Tech AHS Jr. AREC)

 Thursday, May 8.  Breakfast Meeting 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Pathology, Entomology, and Horticulture Updates and Breakfast Provided

Thursday, May 22.  In-Depth Meeting 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Pathology, Entomology, and Horticulture Updates

                Program: Dr. Chris Bergh (Entomologist - Virginia Tech AHS Jr. AREC)

 All meetings will be held at the Alson H. Smith Jr. AREC (Winchester Fruit Lab) at 595 Laurel Grove Road, Winchester, Virginia.  Directions from I-81: take Stephens City exit (Exit 307).  Go west into Stephens City on Fairfax Street and proceed straight through the traffic light onto Rt. 631 (Fairfax Street becomes Marlboro Rd.) and continue west approximately 3.5 miles.  Turn right (north) onto Middle Road (Rt. 628) at the “T”.  Go 1.5 miles north on Middle Road and turn left (west) onto Laurel Grove Road (Rt.629).  Go 0.8 miles to the AREC on the left.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mark Sutphin, Frederick County Extension, at (540) 665-5699/TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Friday, April 4, 2014

VCE Fencing School at Clermont Farm and Virginia Fence Law - The Basics

Virginia Fence Law – The Basics

C. Corey Childs, Extension Agent, Warren County


I get this question quite often: “Who is responsible for the establishment, maintenance/upkeep or replacement of a/this fence in Virginia?”


The information presented in this document about Virginia Fence Law and legislation is meant to be for educational purposes only. Any advice regarding general or specific cases of applicability of any or all Virginia Fence Laws, in the Code of Virginia or locally, should be dispensed by a qualified attorney at law.

 Who is responsible for building a fence in the State of Virginia is a commonly disputed question?” The answer is, “It depends!”  The Code of Virginia draws a distinction between a newly constructed fence and a pre-existing fence.  In some cases, a landowner wishing to construct or repair a division fence can compel their neighbor to cover half the cost of the fence.  The clearest situation justifying such an arrangement is where two adjoining landowners both have livestock but the extent to which a fence must be repaired or the type of fence to be constructed is still a possible source of disagreement.  The duty to pay half the cost becomes less certain when one of the landowners does not keep livestock. 

Complete Virginia Fence law can be found in the code of Virginia

 Historical Perspective on Virginia Fence Law

Virginia’s original fence law was based on English Common Law with which many colonists were familiar. It was the livestock owner’s liability to fence in his animals. Among the earliest pieces of fence related legislation in America occurred in 1631 when the Virginia House of Burgesses declared,

–“Every man shall enclose his ground with a sufficient fence.”

The implication of this was, for the first time, what constituted a “lawful” fence was being considered and legislated in America. Then in 1643, another important legislative act came to pass,

- “that every man shall make a sufficient fence about his cleared ground.”

 Now the priority for containing livestock was shifted to the Planter and Virginia General Law was born.

Beginning in 1643, the livestock owner no longer was primarily responsible for keeping his animals on his own land or for damages resulting from escaped animals. In 1646, the fence law was honed to define a lawful fence as being 4 ½ feet high and substantial at the bottom particularly. “General Law” placed the liability of property protection on the Planter and recovery of damages could only be sought if a lawful fence was provided by the Planter. On October 3, 1862 the General Assembly reconsiders the existing General Law applying to fences:

Whereas a considerable portion of the territory of the commonwealth having been ravaged by the public enemy, and a great loss of labor, fencing and timber thereby sustained, it is rendered difficult if not impossible for the people of many counties and parts of counties, to keep up enclosures around their farms, according to existing laws…therefore county courts shall have the power to dispense with the existing law in regard to enclosures, so far as their respective counties may be concerned, and in their discretion they may deem it expedient to exempt from the operation of such law.”

 Currently:  § 55-299 Definition of Lawful Fence

Every fence shall be deemed a lawful fence as to any livestock named in § 55-306, which could not creep through the same, if

(1) Five feet high, including, if the fence be on a mound, the mound to the bottom of the ditch,

(2) Of barbed wire, 42 inches high, consisting of at least four strands of barbed wire, firmly fixed to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground, spaced no farther than 12 feet 2 part unless a substantial stay or brace is installed halfway between such posts, trees or other supports to which such wires shall be also fixed,

(3) Of boards, planks, or rails, 42 inches high, consisting of at least three boards firmly attached to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground,

(4) Three feet high within the limits of any incorporated town whose charter does not prescribe, nor give to the council thereof power of prescribing, what shall constitute a lawful fence within such corporate limits, or

(5) Any fence of any kind whatsoever, except as described in this section, and except in the case of incorporated towns as set forth in subdivision (4), which shall be:

a. At least 42 inches high,

b. Constructed from materials sold for fencing or consisting of systems or devices based on technology generally accepted as appropriate for the confinement or restriction of livestock named in § 55-306, and

c. Installed pursuant to generally acceptable standards so that applicable livestock named in § 55-306 cannot creep through the same.

A cattle guard reasonably sufficient to turn all kinds of livestock shall also be deemed a lawful fence as to any livestock mentioned in § 55-306.

Nothing contained in this section shall affect the right of any such town to regulate or forbid the running at large of cattle and other domestic animals within its corporate limits.

The Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services may adopt rules and regulations regarding lawful fencing consistent with this section to provide greater specificity as to the requirements of lawful fencing. The absence of any such rule or regulation shall not affect the validity or applicability of this section as it relates to what constitutes lawful fencing.

(Code 1950, § 8-869; 1977, c. 624; 2007, c. 574.)

 Cattle Guards

Cattle guards provide a convenient and effective way to contain cattle and other livestock where private roads need to pass through a boundary or fence.

§ 55-304. Property owner may place cattle guards or gates across right-of-way.

Any owner of property on which there is a road or way, not a public road, a highway, street or alley, over which an easement exists for ingress and egress of others may place cattle guards or gates across such way when required for the protection of livestock. (Code 1950, § 8-873.1; 1954, c. 461; 1977, c. 624.)

§ 55-305. Persons having easement may replace gate with cattle guard; maintenance and use thereof; deemed lawful gate.

Any person having an easement of right-of-way across the lands of another, may, at his own expense, replace any gate thereon with a substantial cattle guard sufficient to turn livestock. These cattle guards shall be maintained by the owner of the easement, who shall be responsible for keeping such cattle guards at all times in sufficient condition to turn livestock. If a cattle guard is rendered inoperative by inclement weather, the easement owner shall utilize and maintain any reasonable alternative method sufficient to turn livestock from the inoperative cattle guard until such cattle guard is rendered operative again. If the gate to be replaced is needed or used for the orderly ingress and egress of equipment or animals there over, then such persons acting under the authority of this section shall construct such cattle guards so as to allow such ingress and egress or, if such easement is of sufficient width, may place such cattle guard adjacent to such gate. Such a cattle guard shall be deemed a lawful gate and not an interference with such easement. (Code 1950, §§ 8-873.2, 8-873.3; 1954, c. 461; 1977, c. 624; 1992, c. 483.)  

Sections 55-304 and 55-305 guarantee the following regarding cattle guards:

Any landowner, who provides an easement for others to travel on or off the property, may install a cattle guard in that easement if they deem it necessary. Any tenant having an easement or right of way across the lands of another may, at their own expense, replace a gate with a cattle guard. The owner of the easement then assumes the responsibility for maintaining the cattle guard. Cattle guards are lawful gates and should not interfere with easement traffic.

Trespassing Animals

These laws deal with how land owners, neighbors and courts handle trespassing livestock and the potential resulting damage.

§ 55-306. Damages for trespass by animals; punitive and double damages.

If any livestock domesticated by man shall enter into any grounds enclosed by a lawful fence, as defined in §§ 55-299 through 55-303, the owner or manager of any such animal shall be liable for the actual damages sustained. When punitive damages are awarded, the same shall not exceed twenty dollars in any case. For every succeeding trespass the owner or manager of such animal shall be liable for double damages, both actual and punitive. (Code 1950, §§ 8-874 through 8-876; 1977, c. 624; 1979, c. 486.)

§ 55-307. Lien on animals.

After a judgment of the court a lien upon such animal shall enure for the benefit of the owner or tenant of such enclosed ground, and execution shall thereupon issue from the court rendering the judgment, and the animal or animals so trespassing shall be levied upon by the officer to whom the execution was issued, who shall sell the same, as provided by statute. (Code 1950, § 8-877; 1977, c. 624.)

§ 55-308. Impounding animals.

Whenever any such animal is found trespassing upon any such enclosed ground, the owner or tenant of such enclosed grounds shall have the right to take up such animal and impound the same until the damages provided for by the preceding sections shall have been paid, or until the same are taken under execution by the officer as hereinbefore provided, and the costs of taking up and impounding such animal shall be estimated as a part of the actual damage. (Code 1950, § 8-878; 1977, c. 624.)

§ 55-309. Duty to issue warrant when animal impounded.

It shall be the duty of such owner or tenant of such lands so trespassed upon, within three days after the taking up and impounding such animal unless the damages be otherwise settled, to apply to a person authorized to issue warrants of the county or city in which such land is situated for a warrant for the amount of damages so claimed by him, and such court, or the clerk thereof, shall issue the same, to be made returnable at as early a date, not less than three days thereafter, as shall be deemed best by him; and upon the hearing of the case the judge shall give such judgment as is deemed just and right.

(Code 1950, § 8-879; 1968, c. 639; 1977, c. 624.)

 “No-Fence Law”

Harkening back to the actions of the Virginia General Assembly in October of 1862, ultimately county courts yielded to Boards of Supervisors to enact local law, but when the No-Fence Law was locally approved, it created an absolute duty of animal owners to fence in their animals to contain them and prevent them from crossing onto the lands of another. This gave rise to the terms “Fence-In” and Fence-Out”.

 § 55-310. How governing body of county may make local fence law.

The board of supervisors or other governing body in any county in this State after posting notice of the time and place of meeting thirty days at the front door of the courthouse, and at each voting place in the county, and by publishing the same once a week for four successive weeks in some newspaper of such county, if any be published therein, and if none be published therein, in some newspaper having a general circulation therein, a majority of the board being present and concurring, may declare the boundary line of each lot or tract of land, or any stream in such county, or any magisterial district thereof, or any selected portion of such county, to be a lawful fence as to any or all of the animals mentioned in § 55-306, or may declare any other kind of fence for such county, magisterial district or selected portion of the county than as prescribed by § 55-299 to be a lawful fence, as to any or all of such animals. (Code 1950, § 8-880; 1977, c. 624.)


• Source is English Common Law

•Boundary lines have been declared to be lawful fences under §55-310 of the Virginia Code. Landowners must fence their animals in.

•In 1862, most eastern VA counties enacted this option

 Fence-In Example

A shepherd in Augusta County, which is “Fence-In”, has several sheep escape through a gate and find their way to a neighbor’s property whereby they commence to destroying a flower garden.

In this case, Augusta County, being Fence-In recognizes a property boundary line as a legal fence. This places liability for the damage incurred by the flower garden squarely on the Augusta County shepherd since it is his duty to control his animals. The moment those sheep crossed into the neighbor’s property, they crossed a “lawful fence”.


• Source is Virginia General Law

 •Landowners must construct a lawful fence around their properties in order to keep wandering animals out. This is like, open range law in some western states.

•In 1862, timber was still plentiful in most of western Virginia and some of these counties chose to remain with General Law.

 Fence-Out Example

A cattleman in Rockbridge County has a few cows wander into a neighbor’s corn field whereby the cattle consume a large quantity of corn and fodder.

Here the question of liability for the damage to the corn becomes two fold. First, Rockbridge County is “Fence-Out”, meaning that boundary lines are not legal fences and citizens must erect a legal fence to bear no liability for unwanted livestock entering their premises. So, was there a fence around the corn field? The second concern then becomes, if there was a fence, did it meet the “legal fence” definition?

Legal fence YES –the cattlemen is liable for the damages

Legal fence NO –the damages are a loss for the owner of the corn

 “Fence In” Counties are Albemarle, Arlington, Augusta, Bedford, Botetourt, Buckingham, Campbell, Charles City, Chesterfield, Clarke, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dickenson, Fauquier, Floyd, Fluvanna, Gloucester, Goochland, Greene, Halifax, Hanover, Isle of Wight, King George, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, New Kent, Orange, Page, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Roanoke, Rockingham, Russell, Scott, Southampton, Spotsylvania, Smyth, Sussex, Washington, Wise, Wythe, York.

 Fence Out” Counties are Accomack, Alleghany, Amelia, Amherst, Appomattox, Bath, Bland, Brunswick, Buchanan, Caroline, Carroll, Charlotte, Chesapeake, Craig, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fairfax, Franklin, Frederick, Giles, Grayson, Greensville, Hampton, Henrico, Henry, Highland, James City, King & Queen, King William, Lancaster, Lee, Lunenburg, Mathews, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, Montgomery, Nelson, Newport News, Northumberland, Northampton, Nottoway, Orange, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Prince George, Prince William, Richmond, Rockbridge, Shenandoah, Stafford, Suffolk, Surry, Tazewell, Virginia Beach, Warren, Westmoreland.


In reality, the obligation to construct a fence is considerably more complicated than these two legal provisions suggest.  A livestock owner that knowingly permits his livestock to enter a public road is very likely to be found negligent should the animals cause an accident, regardless of whether the locality is “Fence-In” or “Fence-Out.”  Furthermore, other sections of Code of Virginia pertaining to fences appear to supersede the “Fence-Out” or “Fence-In” law.

 Beyond § 55-310

The infamous “No-Fence Law” gives certain authority to localities determining their own fence law status, but successive laws limit other possible implications of §55-310.

§ 55-311. Effect of such law on certain fences.

Such declaration shall not be construed as applying and shall not apply to relieve the adjoining landowners from making and maintaining their division fences, as defined by § 55-299, but as to such division fences, §§ 55-317 to 55-322, inclusive, shall be applicable. (Code 1950, § 8-881; 1977, c. 624.)

§ 55-312. Application to railroad companies.

No action taken under the provisions of § 55-310 shall relieve any railroad company of any duty or obligation imposed on every such company by § 56-429, or imposed by any other statute now in force, in reference to fencing their lines of railway, and rights-of-way. (Code 1950, § 8-882; 1977, c. 624.)

§ 55-313. No authority to adopt more stringent fence laws.

Nothing in § 55-310 shall authorize or require the boards of supervisors or other governing bodies of counties to declare a more stringent fence as a lawful fence for any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of any county, than as prescribed by § 55-299. (Code 1950, § 8-883; 1977, c. 624.)

§ 55-314. Effect on existing fence laws or no-fence laws.

Nothing in § 55-310 shall repeal the existing fence laws in any county, magisterial district or selected portion of any county, until changed by the board of supervisors or other governing body, in accordance with the provisions thereof; nor shall the provisions of such section apply to any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of any county, in which the no-fence law 6 is now in force, if such no-fence law exists otherwise than under an order of the board of supervisors or other governing body of such county entered pursuant to such section. (Code 1950, § 8-884; 1977, c. 624.)

§ 55-316. When unlawful for animals to run at large.

It shall be unlawful for the owner or manager of any animal or type of animal described in § 55-306 to permit any such animal, as to which the boundaries of lots or tracts of land have been or may be constituted a lawful fence, to run at large beyond the limits of his own lands within the county, magisterial district, or portion of such county wherein such boundaries have been constituted and shall be a lawful fence. (Code 1950, § 8-886; 1977, c. 624; 1979, c. 486.)

 Division Fences

Good fences make good neighbors only after the law ensures that obligation to build and maintain them, now and in the future, is assured.

 § 55-317. Obligation to provide division fences.

Adjoining landowners shall build and maintain, at their joint and equal expense, division fences between their lands, unless one of them shall choose to let his land lie open or unless they shall otherwise agree between themselves. (Code 1950, § 8-887; 1970, c. 713; 1977, c. 624; 2005, c. 873.)

In 2005, when this law was amended, the intent was to remove the ability for an owner of commercial property to label the land as “lying open” regardless of interest in agricultural use. However the key to interpreting §55-317 is the absence of an existing division fence. If one neighbor needs a fence, typically for livestock, and the other neighbor does not, then both neighbors are not equally liable for the fence, as long as one neighbor allows the land to basically remain fallow.

§ 55-318. When no division fence has been built.

When no division fence has been built, either one of the adjoining owners may give notice in writing of his desire and intention to build such fence to the owner of the adjoining land, or to his agent, and require him to come forward and build his half thereof. The owner so notified may, within ten days after receiving such notice, give notice in writing to the person so desiring to build such fence, or to his agent, of his intention to let his land lie open, in which event, and if the one giving the original notice shall build such division fence and the one who has so chosen to let his land lie open, or his successors in title, shall afterwards enclose it, he, or they, as the case may be, shall be liable to the one who built such fence, or to his successors in title, for one-half of the value of such fence at the time such land shall be so enclosed, and such fence shall thereafter be deemed a division fence between such lands.

If, however, the person so notified shall fail to give notice of his intention to let his land lie open, as hereinabove provided, and shall fail to come forward within thirty days after being so notified, and build his half of such fence, he shall be liable to the person who builds the same for one-half of the expense thereof, and such fence shall thereafter be deemed a division fence between such lands.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, no successor in title shall be liable for any amount prior to the recordation and proper indexing of the original notice in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located. (Code 1950, § 8-888; 1977, c. 624; 1985, c. 486.)

Does “lie open” mean forever? The key to §55-318 is whether or not the intention to build the original fence was put in writing and the decisions made were recorded in the county clerk’s office.

§ 55-319. When division fence already built.

When any fence which has been built and used by adjoining landowners as a division fence, or any fence which has been built by one, and the other afterwards required to pay half of the value, or expense thereof, under the provisions hereinbefore contained, and which has thereby become a division fence between such lands, shall become out of repair to the extent that it is no longer a lawful fence, either one of such adjoining landowners may give written notice to the other, or to his agent, of his desire and intention to repair such fence, and require him to come forward and repair his half thereof, and if he shall fail to do so within thirty days after being so notified, the one giving such notice may then repair the entire fence so as to make it a lawful fence, and the other shall be liable to him for one-half of the expense thereof. (Code 1950, § 8-889; 1977, c. 624.)

Sometimes the most contentious fencing issues between adjoining property owners arises over the disrepair or “unlawfulness” of an existing division line fence. The question of who pays for what if they don’t each agree that the fence is in need of repair or replacement can cause significant angst.

§55-319 addresses this. Important things to remember are:

• When an existing and lawful division fence is in place and is in need of repair, adjoining landowners both assume responsibility for half the repair costs.

• Since §55-319 deals with an existing fence, there is no avoidance of financial obligation for maintenance by one landowner choosing to let their land “lie open”.

• Like §55-318, notice of fence repair has to be filed at the county clerk’s office for 30 days before no response from the adjoining landowner obligates financial responsibility for half the fence.

 § 55-321. Requirements for agreement to bind successors in title; subsequent owners.

 No agreement made between adjoining landowners, with respect to the construction or maintenance of the division fence between their lands, shall be binding on their successors in title, unless it be in writing and specifically so state, and be recorded in the deed book in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located, and properly indexed as deeds are required by law to be indexed.   If any notice, as required by § 55-318 or § 55-319 is recorded in the deed book in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located and is properly indexed as deeds are required by law to be indexed, then any subsequent owners of such land shall be liable for any sum which may be due pursuant to § 55-320.

Thus, the answer to the question regarding whether new owners of adjacent lands are bound by old agreements concerning division fences is going to depend on whether the requirements of § 55-521 have or have not been met.


• The history and interpretation of Virginia Fence Law can be both fascinating and complex.

• The “No-Fence Law” and division laws are probably the most misunderstood pieces of Virginia Fence legislation.

• It is important that, where boundary fences are concerned, landowners understand their obligations before construction to avoid contractors being caught in a conflict.

• Meeting the requirements of a “lawful fence” is critically important for enforcement of any of the Virginia Fence related laws.

• Fence maintenance agreements between adjoining landowners should be filed with the County Clerk’s office in the jurisdiction of the fence location.

• Properly filed fence agreements are binding for successive generations and landowners

 Virginia fence law refers only to landowners. The Code does not mention ‘tenants’ or ‘owners of livestock.’  This has very real implications for landowners who lease land to farmers with an understanding that the farmer-tenant maintains all fences.  Landowners should be aware of their potential obligations and liability related to maintaining boundary fences.

 Thanks to Eric Eberly (, Extension Agent, Farm Business Management, Central District; Tom Stanley (, Extension Agent, Farm Business Management, Northwest District; Jason H Carter, previous Extension Agent, Augusta County for information used in this publication.