Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Predator defense mechanisms
As a livestock producer, I have an everyday relationship with predators that seem to like lamb for dinner as much as my family does. Our back fenceline borders the Mesa big game winter range, which serves as a coyote refuge with human presence prohibited during the winter months.
What to do? We have no interest in trying to kill every predator in the neighborhood, but we need our sheep herds to be protected. My family is a group of active shooters (although not especially effective target-hitters I might add) and we allow sport hunters access to go after coyotes. We herd the sheep, see them everyday, and I camp on the lambing ground during lambing season.
But for 24-hour protection, we use livestock guardian dogs, including these two Akbash females pictured below, as well as guardian burros adopted off the range in Nevada. Once we convinced the burros not to kill the guard dogs, they all get along great, and usually erupt into play at least once an evening.
These are very effective predator defense tactics for our sheep. Another defense mechanism with use with both our sheep and cow herds is entirely natural - horns. Our Hereford cows are horned and they don't like canids. Our Rambouillet rams know exactly where their horn tips are and will slash at anything they deem a threat. Besides, these bad boys look gorgeous out on the range.