Sunday, February 10, 2013

Predators on a small farm

A few days ago I spotted a pack of dogs roaming around in the river bottom. Usually dogs stay a fair distance away from our place but they become much bolder when travelling in packs. I watched as they roamed around a bit then started heading closer up the ridge. I suddenly realized they were heading straight up the hill and it didn’t look like they were stopping.

I ran downstairs and put on my boots, grabbed the .22 and made it outdoors just as the pack came upon our yearly. They had surrounded poor Ferdinand and were nipping and barking like they smelled fresh rib eye.

My .22 is a single shot gun I’ve had since I was twelve. It’s pretty terrible. If I’m within ten feet I can usually plink off my target but then it takes me at least twenty to thirty seconds to reload. I made an attempt to save Ferdinand and shot in the direction of the biggest dog. I think I scared him more than I injured him but the pack was off and poor Ferdinand was spooked.

It made me realized how careful we need to be on our small farm. Our chickens are running all over the place and are easy targets for the plethora of predators in the area and our cows are pretty defenseless against a gang of (take your pick from the list below).

Predators in our area include:

  1. Dogs
  2. Coyotes
  3. Hawks
  4. Weasels (Maddox shot one last month on its way to our chicken coop)
  5. Foxes
  6. Cougars (one was shot up river last year by a good friend of ours)
  7. Bears occasionally meander down stream and feast in the river bottom
  8. People

Protecting animals is one thing. The thing that really scares me is thinking of our kids out and about when any of these predators are around.

A few of the things we have done to minimize the risk of predators include:

  1. Bought and are training a live stock guardian dog. The dog barks all night but is still a wuss. I found the LSG dog underneath the porch after the pack of dogs incident
  2. Kid’s all play together. It is very rare one kid is outside by themselves
  3. We don’t allow the kids to go into the river bottom alone
  4. The chickens are locked up at dusk. The lights may still be on but the door is shut and there is no way into the coop after dark
  5. Looking for electric netting so we can move the chickens around without them being totally exposed
  6. Animals are situated fairly close to the house so when we are here we can monitor them

It’s not a great list now that I’ve read it over. I’m wondering what everyone else does to prevent against predators?

Any ideas?

9 comments:

  1. Besides putting a six foot high fence around your property and setting out traps ,I think sometimes when you have a farm its a battle of the wits when it comes to the predators.Hubstead and I was going for the fence thing ourselves.But where we are thinking NOW of moving we won't have to.

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    1. Where you thinking of moving to Ann? Hawaii? We have fences but nothing tall enough to keep out hawks. ha.

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  2. We have predators but nothing as bad as yours. I've read that LGDs can be hit or miss with the dog, and the instinct doesn't usually kick in for a couple of years. Sounds like you are taking good steps toward dealing with the problem.

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    1. Our LGD loves to lick. Not sure she'll ever kick into protection mode.

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  3. Being the Redblooded (or maybe Red-neck) Yankee...my vote is for a bigger gun! A .22 is fun to plink with, but you need more to scare a pack of dogs. Not to mention, what if the dogs had turned on you? How long to reload a single shot, bolt-action .22?

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  4. I've cleaned and loaded my 30/30. That's as big of a gun I have. The .22 actually works just fine but I need one with a 10 clip.

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  5. It frustrates me when folks move out to the country and let their dogs run wild. They think they're being kind to their animal, but dogs group into packs because it's natural for them, and then attack other animals because it's natural. We have thankfully only rarely had problems with packs of dogs around our ranch. Oddly enough, although we have many coyotes, we've never had a problem with them bothering a calf. (If we had chickens or smaller stock it would probably be a different story) Thanks for sharing this post. (visiting from Homestead Barn Hop)

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, TX
    www.taylormaderanch.com/blog

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  6. I got the Premier electric poultry fencing (gotta save up for the charger now)to discourage foxes that roam in the daytime. My dog is pretty good at protecting and marking territory. I do not have any white hens to attract hawks or owls who do seem to prefer white poultry. I use a paintball gun to shoot loose dogs to prove they were loose to their owners AND I will shoot to kill the next time. I am taking down all my bird feeders tomorrow because its been warm enough that all the skunks have come out, which means the bears will be out a month early looking for something to eat, real soon. I lock all my small stock in before dusk and have latches on every door on the property. Also use a radio outside to keep coyotes away too. In the summer I have a scarecrow that i keep moving around and spraying with perfumes and after shave to ward off predators and veggie thieves. Works good.
    My neighbors have guinea hens and they are fabulous watch dogs during the day.

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  7. What about giving the kids some spray bottles of something,cinnamon oil?or something in that line so if they get in trouble they can spray it? No New Mexico,decided not to move back home to Alabama.

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