Protecting Livestock From Predators

Livestock producers lose thousands of sheep, lambs, and other animals to predators, leading to millions of dollars in losses. Coyotes, bobcats, even domestic dogs are enemy number one.

Charlie Lee is a wildlife management expert at Kansas State University. He says how you control predators depends on the species you’re trying to protect and the predators you have around. But there are some non-lethal ways to make your livestock harder to get at.

"The very first one and the one that science has shown to be the best is to corral livestock at night. That sounds pretty simple and it’s pretty easy, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t do it," says Lee. "And the next I would say would be some sort of secure perimeter fence. Next would probably be a guardian animal, and then I would go to some sort of a frightening device."

Sometimes all you need is a good fence. Lee recommends electrified poly-netting.

"It’s inexpensive, it’s very good at keeping predators out," he says. "It’s light and it’s easy to put up so you can move it around. If you’re using it for a night pen, you can move it around in the pasture some."

Lee says to have calving and lambing facilities near buildings where there’s human activity. Don’t have your livestock where you can’t keep an eye on them. Rough, brushy pastures are perfect hiding spots for predators, and it’s easier for them to snatch animals in rough terrain than it is on flat ground.

If these methods don’t work, you may need to resort to trapping and shooting predators but be sure to check on any local or state regulations.

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