How Can you Protect Your Sheep From the Coyotes:
Sheep can become the favorite prey of coyotes when the opportunity presents itself.
Coyotes usually bite the throat of a sheep, and coyote predation is recognized by the hemorrhage and tooth punctures. Internal organs such as the heart and liver are accessed through the abdomen and eaten first.
Methods to Prevent Predation:
Without prevention, sheep losses can become so severe that a sheep farm cannot continue financially. Understandably the sheep grower does not want to invest money in protective methods that do not work. Nor are profit margins sufficient to afford much investment.
There are the following methods that help to prevent coyote predation. Different types of material have been used in all methods and also contain advice. Some are more expensive and some more effective than others. Finally, sheep farmers may choose the methods. It will depend on their own situation.
1. Electric Fences:
Electric fences are the most effective method to prevent your sheep from coyotes. This method is most expensive also, but have shown the most consistency in protecting sheep from coyotes. There is considerable evidence that properly constructed electric fences can reduce or eliminate coyotes predation on sheep.
Almost all of our producers who have constructed proper electric fences are satisfied with the result. The handful of unsatisfied has usually neglected quality or design standards or encountered an extraordinary coyote that must be removed.
The summary of other studies has shown the losses of sheep on 14 farms before and after electric fences. The losses become reduce to 90% after placing the electric fences. This one is a big achievement for sheep farmers. Sheep farmers should choose this method because it provides the best solution from coyotes predation.
Different sheep farms in different states of the U.S. were visited by Natural Resources staff and a questionnaire completed regarding the history of coyote predation and their methods used to protect sheep. From the questionnaire analysis was made comparing sheep losses among farms that had:
- No electric fencing
- Poor electric fencing
- Fair-to-good electric fencing.
Electric fences that were rated as the poor had a combination of problems such as low voltage, lengths of the boundary with no electric fence, and other design and maintenance problems.
Fair to good fences was thought capable of deterring coyotes.
When you will go for electric fences then you should go for good electric fences. There are the following characteristics of good electric fences:
- Electric fences should contain high voltage.
- Electric fences should contain high voltage on all the lengths of the fence.
Construction and Design of Electric Fences
Coyotes prefer to go under or through fences rather than over them. On-farm with page wire fencing, it is amazing to observe the effort coyotes make to dig under the fence rather than jump over. The coyote perceives page wire as a physical barrier that cannot easily penetrate. When it encounters an electric fence with horizontal wires, it is assumed that it can easily step through.
Knowing the tendency for coyotes to not jump a fence, a five-wire design is probably sufficient for most coyotes.
An electric fence with a bottom, grounded wire strung very close to the ground surface is probably the wisest design. The close fit to the ground will encourage the coyote to step up between the ground wire and the next live wire.
Construction of electric fences to protect sheep necessitates modern-day, high-impedance fencers and high-tensile wire. The fence must produce enough voltage to overcome the insulation resistance of a coyote’s long hair and hide.
A minimum charge of 2000 volts is required, but 4000-5000 volts are much better. The pain should be sufficient that the coyote will not investigate other ways to get through the fence.
There are the following guidelines while constructing the electric fence:
- Build the fence properly the first time.
- Prepare a level and straight fence-line
- Do not neglect proper grounding or annual maintenance.
The construction of new fences with page wire, with the exception of lambing or catching corrals, is not recommended.
Electric wire can be added to existing page wire fences. The foremost location for this wire is offset from the outside bottom to prevent coyotes from digging under the fence.
Heavy brush growth often around the outside of older fences and uneven ground can make the idea difficult.
Secondly, the electric wire can be added to the top of the page wire fence to discourage coyotes from jumping over.
If it is impossible to electrify a gate than at least install board or rock still under the gate to prevent entrance by the coyote under the gate.
2. Guard dogs:
Guard dogs are an ancient form of sheep protection developed over centuries in Europe and Asia.
There are the following breeds as guard dogs for sheep:
- Komondor (Hungry)
- Great Pyrenees (France and Spain)
- Akbash (Turkey)
- Maremma (Italy)
- Shar planinetz (Yugoslavia)
- Anatolian Shepherd (Turkey)
Are the more common breeds.
The guarding dog concept involves a dog that stays with sheep without harming them and aggressively repels predators. The dog chooses to remain with sheep because it has been reared with them since it was a puppy. Its protective behavior is largely instinctive, and there is relatively little formal training required other than timely correction of undesirable behaviors ( e.g. chewing on ears, over playfulness and excessive wandering).
The guarding dog is not a herding dog but rather a full-time member of the flock. The success of the dog is a result of a quality genetic background with an emphasis on proper rearing. Because of their independent nature, training for these dogs is limited mostly to “no” and “come” commands.
There are the following qualities of the ideal dog:
- An ideal guard dog is intelligent, alert, and confident.
- It will investigate and aggressively confront intruders
- The dog must be attentive to sheep
- Not harm them
If you want to form a bond between dog and sheep, a pup is placed in a pen with three to six lambs when it is seven to eight weeks of age. The emphasis is on the dog-to-sheep association. The dog-to-human socialization period, when the pup is at least 16 weeks old, it and its companion sheep can be put into a larger area. The dog should be encouraged to stay with the sheep and not allowed to hang around the house, children, or areas where sheep are not present. The dog should be treated as a working animal, not a pet.
Spike / Wolf Collars for Dogs
Spike Collars are special collars that help protect your guard dogs from Coyote and Wold Pack Attacks. It also gives the Dogs more Confidence and a Feeling of Protection. It is fitted around their neck as a regular collar but has spiked needle-like projections. So if Dog is attacked by a pack of coyotes or wolves, they cannot bite his windpipe or neck without being hurt.
3. Guard Donkeys:
Donkeys are gaining popularity as protectors of sheep. This popularity may be based in part on the nation that little more than purchasing an animal and dumping it in a pasture is involved. Donkeys have an inherent dislike for dogs and presumably coyotes. Donkeys will bray, bare teeth, and make running attacks, kicking and biting.
The reported success of donkeys for predator control appears highly variable. A Texas survey reports some owners to have success but at least as many do not. Donkeys can cost more to buy than guard dogs.
On the plus side, donkeys have a longer life span and are cheaper to feed than guard dogs. Donkeys are less apt to be injured by foot-hold traps and snares set for coyote control.
There are the following pieces of advice from the U.S. studies:
- Guard donkeys should be medium to large size stock, not miniatures.
- Use jennies and geldings. Do not use jacks (males) as guard animals, because they are aggressive and will injure livestock.
- Test a new donkey’s guarding response by challenging the donkey with a dog in a corral or small pasture. Be prepared to reject non-aggressive donkeys.
- Use only one donkey or jenny and foal per pasture. When two or more adults donkeys are together, or with a horse, they usually seek the company together instead of staying with the sheep. Avoid placing donkeys in adjacent pastures.
- Use donkeys in small, open pastures with smaller flocks of sheep. A guard dog can cross wooden gates and petrol several fields, but a donkey cannot. Large pasture with rough terrain and vegetation and widely scattered livestock, lessen the effectiveness of a donkey.
- Avoid feeds containing anabolic agents like monensin and lasolocid, as these are poisonous to donkeys. Donkeys may flounder if they eat a lot of prepared sheep feed.
4. Night Time confinement
Nighttime confinement is the only option for those sheep producers who are unable to install protection methods such as proper electric fencing or guard animals.
After visited many farms, it was noticed that various degrees of nighttime confinement were practiced. Sheep often move by themselves toward barnyard at night. If old barns or sheds are present, sheep will bed beside or inside them particularly in wet, windy weather.
On many farms sheep spend their night near or in such structures, there is no chance of coyote attacks. You will be surprised that some farms had no predation.
Farmers also confine sheep when a series of coyote attacks are occurring. This usually involves enclosing the sheep within a corral or building, while an effort is made to trap offending coyotes. When there is no nighttime access, a coyote will sometimes kill during daylight. Stragglers that are not confined often become victims.
There are the followings nighttime confinement drawbacks:
- Complaints about nighttime confinement include the extra time involved, parasites, manure concentration, and loss of grazing time. Many farmers regularly give medication to control parasites.
If predation losses are heavy, with no alternative protection methods, there is little choice but to use nighttime confinement.
It is impractical and too expensive to put up electric fencing around the whole farm, a compromise and recommendation are to protect at least one small pasture. Rather than putting sheep into a building, sheep can be placed into the security pasture at night, especially when a coyote has recently killed sheep.
5. Trapping / Shooting Coyotes:
It is important to remove those coyotes that are actually killing sheep. Removal requires skill and time and is only a short-term solution. Killing coyotes is a way of predator Control. They can be shot, trapped in a snare or large Box trap.
Not all Coyotes are Killers sometimes a Guard Coyote Scenario can Exist. This an Interesting Article from Oregon State University – on Guard Coyotes.
6. Farm carrion:
Common sense suggests that, if coyotes find dead livestock near farms, they will visit these farms more frequently and the potential for predation is increased. Whether carrion feeding by coyotes leads to predation or whether some individual coyotes are more inclined to kill sheep than others, is not well understood. Most sheep growers agree it is wise not to encourage coyotes by leaving dead livestock in or near pastures.
7. Frightening device:
For centuries, livestock producers have used frightening devices to ward off potential predators. Most predators are initially fearful of unexpected disturbances and keep their distance. Over the years, the devices have changed from simple scarecrows and balls or other noisemakers to more modern devices like the electronic guard.
The electronic guard combines two scare tactics: light and sound. It has a light-sensing device that activates it at night and turns it off during daybreak, thus operating the device when predation is most likely to occur. The number of electronic guards needed to protect sheep will depend on the size of the pasture, the vegetation in or around it, and the terrain.
The electronic guard is a self-contained, 11-pound cylinder that can operate for approximately 60 days on a 12-volts alkaline battery.
Translocation is the capture of a predator and the release of it in another area. It is often done with protected predators such as wolves and bears. However, translocation is expensive and does not guarantee the predator will not cause damage in its new location or find its way home. It is becoming a less popular means of dealing with predation.
9. M-44 Cyanide injector:
The M-44 works by injecting cyanide powder into the mouth of the predator. The ejector is triggered when the animal pulls back on the baited M-44 unit. The sodium cyanide powder reacts with the moisture in the animal’s mouth, releasing hydrogen cyanide gas.
10. Daily checking of sheep:
Obviously early detection of coyote predation on the farm is important. Look for dead, injured, or nervous sheep. Check the efficiency of electric fences and the activities of vigilance is important
Livestock Protection Collars
These are Lethal Collars that are worn by sheep/lambs in areas of severe coyote predation on your flock. The Collar is positioned around the lower part of the Sheeps Neck. When a Coyote attacks a Sheep it usually tries to crush the sheep’s windpipe.
The Coyote ruptures the collar when he attacks. The Coyote receives a lethal dose of Compound 180, within 5 hours after the Coyote Ingest the compound he will die from Cardiac Failure.