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Val Wagner of Monango, N.D., is posting messages to Twitter on behalf of one of her farm's cows in the hopes of better educating Web users about agriculture. Mark Wagner / Special to The Forum

A cow's life goes aTwitter: North Dakota rancher uses social networking site

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Dogs bark. Cats meow. Cows moo.

But cattle tweet, too, at least when Val Wagner is involved.

Wagner, who operates a cattle ranch with her husband, Mark, at Monango, N.D., about 50 miles south of Jamestown, N.D., recently began tweeting on Twitter from the perspective of a heifer on her family's ranch.

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A heifer is a young, female cow that hasn't had her first calf yet.

So far, the tweets reflect the collective experience of the 27 heifers among the 167 cows on the Wagners' ranch.

But soon the tweets will focus on a single, still-to-be-chosen heifer.

Wagner will pick a heifer after testing reveals which of the 27 are pregnant.

The tweets will follow the selected heifer through her pregnancy this summer, fall and winter until she gives birth early next spring.

After that, the tweets may switch to the perspective of the new calf, Val Wagner said.

Twitter is a free social networking Web site that allows its users to send and read updates known as tweets.

Wagner began writing tweets at www.twitter.com/Cows_Life in mid-May.

Here's a tweet from May 18:

"We're on our way to pasture! Yay! I love green grass! Although, I'm gonna miss that nummy silage I got twice a day."

Here's another from May 19:

"We got to pasture kind of late last night, but the sunrise this morning was beautiful! The grass is the best!"

Wagner said many people don't understand agriculture and she thought the popular tweeting could draw more people into the fold.

"There are so many groups out there that are against animal agriculture and thinking we're not looking out for the best interests of the animal," Wagner said. "So I was thinking about what we could do to show people what these animals actually go through on the farm. Then it occurred to me to start a Twitter account."

Val and Mark Wagner have four sons, and that encouraged Val to tweet, too.

"We want to guarantee our boys can decide to farm and ranch if that's what they want," she said.

Wagner also tweets about the family farm at www.

twitter.com/wagfarms.

Sixty-eight people are following Wagner's tweets on the family farm.

Ten people are following the tweets on the heifer. Wagner is confident that number will pick up.

One sign of how popular Web-based social networking has become:

Tweets on the life of Sockington, the cat of a Waltham, Mass., man, have more than 500,000 followers.

Wagner said her work on Twitter is spreading the word on what agriculture is really about.

"It's a way of showing people who aren't connected to the farm, what the farm is like," she said.

Farm groups on social sites

Area farm organizations are increasingly interested in Twitter and Facebook, another Web-based social networking site.

The North Dakota Farmers Union uses Facebook to promote its youth camps and is exploring other uses for Twitter and Facebook, said Outreach and Training Coordinator Amber Hill.

The North Dakota Farm Bureau has a Twitter account (www.twitter.com/ndfb) and a Facebook fan page at (www.facebook.com/pages/North-Dakota-Farm-Bureau/7052568510), said Communications Director Dawn Smith-Pfeifer.

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