Livestock Protection Measures and Options
When you know your foe, you can take the necessary protective measures for your livestock. Compare the coyote-related deaths compared to the total livestock population across all states, the coyote effects on livestock are a bit more reasonable. Adult sheep and lambs are the most affected of these three species, as a measure of the total population. But if you’re a farmer who’s having coyote problems, it probably doesn’t feel all that reasonable to you. While you can often seek help from state or federal agencies when you’re having depredation issues on your animals, sometimes there are program limitations or maybe you’re not interested in that route. So here is how to protect livestock from coyotes – you have a few options available to you.
Many farmers tend to opt for this route where legal and possible. It consists of shooting, trapping, or otherwise killing coyotes yourself or having government programs remove them. Coyote hunts can be very challenging and will test you as a hunter, as they are very smart and wary animals. For that reason alone, some people might even want to lease your land. This seems like it would be one of the easiest and most effective options to control coyote populations. But there’s a lot of research out there these days that questions how truly effective it is. Since coyotes are very territorial, removing individuals opens up new territories for others to use. With fewer individuals, reproductive rates and pup survival often increase in the local population. And with larger families, coyotes need to kill more or larger livestock to feed their pups. To further add to the issue, if you remove a dominant coyote that does not kill your livestock, you may open the floodgates to a bunch of younger ones that didn’t kill your animals because of that “guard coyote” – but now they will. It can quickly become a devastating cycle.
So instead of risking this cycle, here’s how to deter coyotes from livestock in a non-lethal way. The best defense against coyotes is often being more present on your farm. Both humans and guard/shepherd dogs (e.g., Great Pyrenees) can deter predators very effectively. When you observe them, go out of your way to harass and frighten them. Keep switching up the times you visit your herd if possible, to keep them from patterning you. Installing better quality fencing and pens/enclosures can also keep your herd safer when you’re not physically able to keep watch over them. Electric fences are excellent repellants. Another popular option is to mix up the species in your herds. For example, while sheep and goats are more vulnerable to coyote predation, donkeys and llamas are not; in fact, they are very aggressive towards them and can protect their own little herds. Even training your cows and sheep or goats to live together in the same pasture can help provide additional protection for them.
Make Your Property Less Attractive to Coyotes
Coyotes are opportunistic so they will find the easy meal or shelter to take advantage of. They will shelter in outbuildings or in old wood piles. Lock up barns, discard or burn woodpiles and fence off any other potential den sites. They like to use tall grass and shrubs to conceal them when they are stalking prey so keep the vegetation trimmed up so they don’t have any places to hide.
Compost bins and garbage cans attract coyotes. Keep your bins inside, in enclosures, locked up, or weigh the lids down. Keep the area free of scraps such as deer carcasses or open pet food and water sources. Enclose and fortify animal enclosures for rabbits, chickens and other small livestock. Keep pets and small children inside at dawn and dusk.
By making your property non coyote friendly they are less likely to wander through your pens and property.