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soapweed--NE livestock laws

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Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
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northeast nebraska
what are the laws in NE re: who's liable if someone bails over my hill (ie, my new neighbors) and hits one of the cows/calves/yearlings? assume that i have (as i do) a 3-strand barbed wire fence that is well-maintained. but there's always the one that gets out...thanks!
My answer is a shot in the dark from the hip, so don't put too much stock in it. I've always been under the impression that on a roadway that is fenced, if a critter gets out and causes a wreck, it is the owner of the livestock who is liable. On an unfenced roadway, it is considered "open range" and the driver of the vehicle is responsible.

About fifteen years ago, I had cattle summered with a neighbor and these cattle were grazing a pasture that had a county-maintained single-laned asphalt road running through it. Some out-of-the-area workers were building a new bridge across the Niobrara, and their boss didn't work these fellers late enough at night. They had the habit of going to town every evening and drinking beer, and thus drove erratically when they went back to their camp by the bridge at night. On one of these forays, the driver lurched into and killed one of my good Angus heifer calves.

This happened in September, and at the time 500 pound calves were worth a dollar per pound. I told the guy that had the calf lived until mid October, she would have been worth $500, but that I would settle for $400. He howled and complained, but my response was either pay the $400 or I would get legal assistance and try to get more. He grudgingly consented and finally gave me the cash.

As far as advice to you, chuckie, I would suggest adding a fourth wire to your fence. Three wire fences just don't quite cut the mustard for keeping cattle out of a danger zone. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. :(
well, thanks for "nothing" :D the only 4th wire i can add (i think!), will be the hot wire--which i don't have a problem with...guess i'm gonna have to get after it... :oops:
chuckie said:
well, thanks for "nothing" :D the only 4th wire i can add (i think!), will be the hot wire--which i don't have a problem with...guess i'm gonna have to get after it... :oops:

Chuckie, feel fortunate! Here is the fence law here in Alabama.
Code of Alabama
Section 3-4-4
Requirements as to construction of lawful fences - Fences of seven or more wires for livestock generally.
A fence made of seven or more wires securely fastened to trees or posts not more than eight feet apart, the first four wires being of four-inch barb and not over four inches apart, commencing with the first wire four inches from the ground, the fifth wire not over six inches from the fourth, the sixth wire not over eight inches from the fifth and the seventh wire 15 inches from the sixth, shall be a lawful fence against all stock whatsoever.

(Code 1896, §2112; Code 1907, §4242; Code 1923, §7971; Code 1940, T. 3, §63.)
Nebraska is considered an open-range state, meaining that livestock have the right-of way fenced in, or not. There has only been one exception found to this, that I know of, in a case where fence maintaince was soreley neglected. My understanding is, if your fences are of similiar quality to those of your neighbors, and you have livestock "out", you are not liable for any abnormal damages, incurred on a roadway or otherwise.
that was my understanding to Haytrucker, or that is what I have always been told from people up home, so I think its similar to that in South Dakota. If your fences are of good quality and somehow your livestock gets out your not liable. if your fences are piss poor then you are.

Anyone interested in such matters go to this site....it gives the livestock laws of this stuff for all the states. Just scroll to the bottom and click on your state. It also has the Brand Laws....kinda an informative site from the University of Texas in Austin.


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