Archive for the ‘Livestock’ Category
I began asking “how can I protect my sheep from coyotes?” when we lost some lambs to a coyote. We also lost a duck and another time a turkey. Either a raccoon or a coyote had been involved. However, nothing is as sickening as finding a beautiful lamb dead in the field.
I found a simple and free answer that has worked effectively for a long time now. It is what every male farmer does anyway, but might need to be pointed in the right direction: urinate. That’s it.
This also answers these questions:
How do I keep raccoons out of the henhouse? What keeps foxes away from my chickens? What protects turkeys from bobcats? Can I keep varmints out of my rabbit cages? Can I keep deer out of the garden? How do I protect my goats from coyotes? In short, how does one keep sheep and other farm animals safe from predators? In most cases, you can save your livestock easily.
I got the idea from a catalog that was selling wolf urine to put on the fence posts so that coyotes would stay away (this also keeps deer away, too, though). I thought, if they are scared of wolves, then why not human urine? After all, God said,
the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. (Genesis 9:2, NKJ)
They are already scared of you. If you were sitting on the fence post, they would not come in and chase your sheep, goats, chickens,
rabbits, turkeys, or ducks. So, if your scent on the fence post led them to believe you were close by, they still would not cross over.
You can whiz through farming
Sorry, but it is really that simple. Now, I know most of you female readers may find this concept demeaning, but surely you have some guys who wear the pants in the family. Send them out to the fence row or the henhouse to take a leak. It is crazy, but either a fox will eat your profits or you will use “mother nature” to your advantage.
Simply “marking your territory” will let intruders know to stay away. They would rather go after easier game elsewhere than to risk encountering you. Let the fear of humans be to your advantage. Do you have a dog that has to be kept caged in or tied up? Take it for a walk around the parameter of your fences or around your small-animal buildings. It’s urination and defecation will leave further warning markers that wandering prowlers would rather avoid.
The complicated solutions to protect sheep from coyotes
- Livestock guardian dog. Expensive to feed—unless you have enough livestock to pay for it, it will cost more than it is worth just to feed and care for it. LGDs can also be dangerous around your children and other family members. Pick a breed with caution and raise one yourself, if you can. Sometimes they will protect sheep well but kill chickens. Be sure you know what you are getting into.
- Hotwire. If you use five to seven strands of hotwire you can keep many predators from crossing the fence. Also, electrified
net fencing will keep your sheep, goats, geese and turkeys, much safer than leaving them in a large, open field. They can’t get out (usually) and the predators can’t get in.
- Tight fence. Sheep and goat fencing allows only 4 inches of space. This does not give the goats room to get their heads stuck through. A stuck goat is bait for coyotes who will hear it bleating and come running for dinner.
- Red eye. This led light gives an ominous red glow that wild animals will interpret as being the eye of another predator. You have to set up a few of them so a stalker coming from any direction will see it and stay away. This supposedly works with raccoons and coyotes, but like any scare-crow thing, cannot be all one depends on. It seems like another expensive gimmick.
- Noise. You could leave a radio going. My grandfather used to protect his garden and rows of corn from raccoons by putting out a radio at night. This usually worked for him, but it could irritate the neighbors. Kind of kills the idea of living in the peaceful country.
- Sleep with them. Tent out under the stars like shepherds of old. Yeah. That will get old fast.
When urination may not work
- Rain can remove your defense barrier. We had gone almost two years without a coyote attack. I was pretty happy with my innovative defense mechanism. Then we hit a stressful time when one of the kids was not well and things in the home were stressful enough to distract me from making my morning rounds. Worse, it rained all week. Four days of rain must have been enough to wash away the scent on the parameter of the fence where our sheep were (about an acre and a half field, partially wooded). We lost four lambs that week. Until that point, I thought my efforts were just a “number one” experiment. Looking at those dead lambs made a believer out of me. Frequent urination kept the coyotes at bay.
- If rouge dogs are your problem, then taking a leak on a fence post may not be enough to stop them. However, sitting out there with a shotgun a few times will put an end to that. I give a dog a warning shot before hitting the target. If they can connect your scent with the source of the scent on the fence posts, they may begin respect your territory. Otherwise, there is
the permanent option, but killing your neighbor’s dog can devastate a relationship. In that case, you would be better off buying a livestock guardian dog that will defend your animals for you.
Hopefully this article has helped clarify your understanding of how to keep coyotes out of your sheep, raccoons away from your rabbits, deer out of your corn, possums out of the henhouse, foxes away from your chickens, and any other varmint away from your goats, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Farming can be a whiz.
We bought a bred Jersey cow earlier this year and the folks at the dairy we bought from told us to prevent milk fever we should use a calcium supplement.
This morning the kids came running in, saying, “The cow is having her baby!” Hurray! she finally calved. After catching a couple dozen lambs this year, this calf birth was a breeze. Fortunately, we did not have to pull it.
She had a bull and he looks springy and healthy. Figures she would give birth on the coldest day so far. We had our first frost last night.
The people who sold her to us told us we could prevent milk fever if we give her a couple tubes of Calcium supplement. We gave her one a week ago and then one this morning. We will give her a third tomorrow morning. We should have given her one just before she calved or while she was calving, but we did not see her until too late.
The calcium supplement helps prevent milk fever because it keeps her body from robbing her bones of nutrients to make milk. Since a Jersey milk cow comes into so much milk all at once, it can really hurt her system. The tubes of calcium help meet that need without her pulling it from her own reserves.
We milked off a little colostrum—the syrupy stuff that the calf needs to have good immunity. It looks yellow and runs thick. We will freeze it for use later in case we get a calf in need of colostrum.
Tomorrow her milk should come in. In a couple of days, it should be all milk and no more colostrum so we can start using it all to make butter and cheese. If we learn some good tricks, we will share them here!
If you have trouble keeping your livestock inside the fence, you probably are not feeding them enough. Sheep, goats, pigs, and even horses, donkeys, and cows will fly the coop if you do not feed them enough. It should not take much of a fence to keep cows. Five strands of barbed wire fencing will keep cows in indefinitely, as long as they have plenty to eat. Go by an overgrazed cow pasture and you will see the fence leaning over where the bovines have pushed their heads through, trying to get the proverbial greener grass on the other side of the fence.
Use quality fence materials
Some of the best fencing is the sheep and goat fencing rolls. These rolls stretch 330 feet and have 4-inch-by-4-inch openings. This tight-weave fence is tight enough to keep goats from getting their heads through and stuck. If you use the cheaper field fence (also called hog wire), you will keep smaller pigs in, but goats will get their heads stuck if they have horns. Some goat owners walk their fence line daily to pull out the goats’ heads. Save time and frustration and prevent an animal from getting dehydrated by getting the right fencing material to hang on your wooden posts or metal T-posts. For particularly troublesome animals you may try the 2×4 wire made for horses since they cannot climb it. If you buy 2×4 wire, get the woven type not the cheaper welded version, as it will break apart after a few years. One of the best sources for fencing products is Red Brand, but the price is a bit higher than others. Make sure you keep any wire fence tight by building quality H-frame ends.
Hogs will get through any fence that is not set in concrete. If they can get their nose under it, they will push through if they get hungry. Many homesteaders build their hog pens with hog panels (very thick wire) and concrete floors.
Downsize your herd or flock
If you have trouble keeping your animals in with good fencing, you have to either start buying them hay or downsize your flock. In our area, we can have a drought from July through August and have to start feeding hay. One year, my neighbor had to start feeding hay in August and kept feeding all the way through to April the next year. One of our goats decided she did not want to eat any more of the brush we were trying to get her clear, so she developed the ability to run, jump, volley off the middle of the fence, and jump over the fence. She should have been a gymnast. We sold her the day she jumped into the garden.
Get quality fencing material (for sheep and goats) like this.
Most foot rot, or hoof rot, comes to a flock by diseased sheep brought to the same pasture. That was our mistake. We learned not to buy sheep that have a had a history of hoof rot.
What do you do if a sheep starts limping?
You don’t have to cull all the sheep that start limping if this disease gets going in your herd. You do have to separate them from the rest of the flock, however. Pen up the diseased ones in a dry area where you can observe them.
How do you clean a rotted hoof?
Take a clean knife or disinfected pair of hoof trimming shears or, and cut away as much hoof as you possibly can. Foot rot gets up under the hoof so you will probably cut out 50% or more of an animal’s hoof in serious cases. Fortunately, your sheep will not feel most of this since the bacteria has already separated the hoof from the foot base. Cutting away like this exposes the bacteria to the air which helps it die.
I always have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy to spray the opened hoof. You will see the smelly rotted area foam up quickly as the H2O2 goes to work. This kills it all for the short-term. But there is more than meets the eye. The worst cases of this disease involve two types of bacteria, one working outside the body and the other working inside the body.
At this point, most farmers say to use zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, or formalin. You will have a hard time getting formalin and the copper sulfate could be fatal if the sheep ingest it. We have used the Zinc Sulfate Monohydrate with some success. You have to dissolve it into warm water, then pen up your animals (we used an old stock tank) for an hour. Let them soak in this each day and eventually the foot rot goes away (as long as you have cut away the rotted hoof portions).
What is the best treatment?
Our quest to cure this in our animals (and a ram we had borrowed from a friend) led us to an antibiotic called tetracycline under the label Duramycin. This low-cost product removes worms from poultry and swine. You will not use it internally with your sheep, though. Mix it into a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide until the liquid looks bright yellow. It does not take much and if you make a lot you will have to throw out what you cannot use right away. Mix it up fresh and it will knock the bacteria dead. If you have to treat more than just a couple sheep, put on rubber gloves as the over spray can soften your finger nails and make them painful to touch.
If you have an infected sheep, first remove it from the flock, vigorously trim the hoof with good trimmers, clean with peroxide, and drench the area with the Duramycin-peroxide mixture. It may take a day or two for the animal to stop limping (that exposed foot will be sensitive for a while). After three days examine the infected hoof again and spray with peroxide to see if any more bacteria inside causes foaming. If so, pare the hoof back some more and treat with the Duramycin mixture again. To succeed against this disease, aggressively trim and liberally soak.
Catch foot rot quickly before the whole flock does!