As a sheep farmer, you know that predators such as coyotes, wolves, foxes, bears, cougars and even dogs can cause significant damage to your flock. Losing valuable livestock to predators isn’t only financially devastating but also emotionally challenging. Fortunately, there are several effective methods you can use to protect your sheep and prevent such losses. Here are seven.
Get a guardian animal. One of the most effective ways to ensure the safety of your sheep is to get a guardian animal. Dog breeds like the Great Pyrenees and Bernese mountain dogs are excellent choices as they’ve been bred for centuries to protect livestock. These dogs are known for their gentle disposition and ability to form strong bonds with their charges. They’ll fiercely defend their flock against any perceived threat, including predators. Donkeys and llamas have also proven to be excellent sheep protectors.
Implement nocturnal protection practices. Predators, like coyotes and wolves, are mostly active at night. Therefore, you can deter them by penning your sheep near buildings or close to humans at night. This makes it more difficult for predators to approach the flock without being detected. If your yard is well-lit, the risk is further reduced. It’s crucial to prioritize prevention when dealing with predators, as they’re more likely to attack repeatedly once they’ve already killed.
Practice good flock management. Good flock management is another effective method of reducing the potential for attacks from common predators. Monitoring your livestock daily is crucial. It allows you to spot problems immediately and deal with them before they become critical. Moreover, keeping calving and lambing facilities near buildings and altering the timing of birthing seasons can also help prevent predators from preying on newborn lambs and calves, which are particularly vulnerable.
Use frightening devices. Frightening devices can also be a useful tool in deterring predators. Noise makers like scare cannons, radios and motion-detecting noise devices can help scare off predators, especially when used in combination with visual deterrents like lights and scarecrows. It’s important to move these devices around often, so predators don’t get used to them.
Try chemical repellants. Chemical repellents, like capsaicin, lithium chloride, pulegone and cinnamaldehyde have been proven effective repellents for certain predators when applied directly to inanimate or immobile objects. Keep in mind that these products can be expensive and must be applied frequently to be effective.
Remove attractants. It’s important to promptly remove attractants from your sheep’s living areas to avoid giving predators a reason to investigate and frequent the area. Predators can be attracted to livestock sites for many reasons, including the carcasses of dead animals, compost, pet food and ripe fruit fallen from trees in yards. Junk piles can also provide protective cover for prey animals that predators like to consume. Therefore, regularly clearing your property of debris can help reduce the risk of attracting predators.
Install fencing. When it comes to protecting your livestock, having the right farm fencing is crucial. Woven wire fencing is a great way to prevent predators from entering your pasture. It’s strong and forms a firm and definite barrier. Keep in mind that the fence’s bottom wire must be close to the ground to prevent predators from digging under it. The fence should also be at least 165 centimetres high (five feet, six inches) to prevent animals from jumping over the top and the wire spacing must be tight enough to prevent animals from squeezing through the mesh. Electrifying your fencing is another option. The electric current doesn’t hurt the animals but gives them enough of a scare to avoid trying to contact the fence again. Electrified fences should be made up of at least five strands of high-tensile smooth wire or barbed wire. The more wires, the more effective the fence will be at deterring predators.
While there’s no single solution for addressing predator issues, combining two or three different methods can help improve the situation. However, there’s no guarantee for permanent elimination of predation.
Farm fencing for livestock protection
At Ontario Wholesale Farm Direct, we carry various types of fencing, including heavy-duty wire fencing and no-climb fencing to keep your sheep contained and predators out. In addition to our fencing products, we also carry a variety of durable and easy-to-move farm gates that can help you control access to your property. Whether you’re a small family farm or a large commercial operation, we have the products and expertise to meet your needs. Contact us today to learn more.