By understanding predators you can help control the damages that they can do to livestock. The most common predators here in the east are the eastern coyote, black bear, and the neighbors dog. Most predators are very lazy and will take advantage of a free, easy meal that they dont have to exert alot of energy to obtain. Dont give away alot of free, easy meals. For example, a goat giving birth is a free, easy meal for any predator. For one, a doe in labor will alert predators that she is in distress by the cries of pain she is sending out. The newborn kids are sometimes weak and unable to stand for several hours allowing them to be easily preyed upon. The afterbirth has an odor that will attract predators to the easy meal. Whenever possible, kidding should be done indoors and the afterbirth properly disposed of as soon as possible to ensure the kids safety.
First we will learn about the eastern coyote. Coyotes in the east typically range in weight between 40-70 pounds and have many different color phases from black to red to white, sometimes they can be hard to identify because of the color they may look like a German shepherd or a dog at a distance. Coyotes eat their body weight every week and eat the largest meal of the day one hour before dark each day. To help protect your herd, feed them in the last hour before dark. That way, you are with the herd and the goats will likely bed down in the barn for the night when being fed at this time. Coyotes can smell human scent up to 3/4 of a mile away. To any predator, humans stink and they will not come to human odor because we are the top predator. If you are having a problem with coyotes, place the smelliest work shirt you have in the bedding area of the barn and play a radio, predators will not come to human scent or human sound. If they think there is a human close by, your animals are safe.
Black bears can become a problem and typically will prey upon goat kids. It is uncommon that a predator will take down an adult animal here in the east because feed is relatively plentiful. When feed becomes scarce such as acorns, nuts, or berries, black bears will prey upon kids, lambs, or other small animals. Bears can easily jump fences, or go through them without getting shocked by electric because of their thick hide, and they are very fast and can run up to 30 miles per hour, and can easily out run young livestock. If you are experiencing a problem with a bear, you should contact your local game commission for help. They can trap the bears and relocate them out of your area. Also, bears are lazy animals, they would rather tear down a bird feeder than to kill livestock. If you are having a problem with the loss of your livestock, feed the bear until the game commission is able to help. The game commission also has a program in place to compensate you for any loss of livestock consumed by predators.
The worst problem that most ranchers have is the neighbors dog. Unfortunately the neighbors dog is not afraid of humans and by calling the dog warden, you can end up with an unhappy neighbor that you will have to live with for a very long time. In most states you are permitted to kill the dog if it is in with any domesticated livestock but then of course, your neighbor is going to know that you killed their dog and that will create some friction between neighbors. The best method is probably the shoot, shovel, and shut up method. A few years ago I had a problem with my neighbors dog getting into my fence and chasing my goat kids around, fortunately every time, I was close by. I tried everything short of killing the dog to keep it out of my fence and away from my goats when finally something worked. I grabbed the 50,000 volt stun gun from the buck barn and used it on the dog. After some shaking and yelping, the dog has yet to come anywhere near my property since that day.
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