Some facts about the struggles farmers have with nature, predators, and other pests. How to reduce problems with coyotes instead of shooting them. How to control insect pests without using insecticides and chemicals. How to control mice without using poisons. Can coyotes be trained to stay away? Tips for hobby farmers on keeping their livestock safe from predators.
If you live rurally then you know that predators and pests can be a problem. Predators may kill your livestock, while pests often destroy crops. The information here is in regards to controlling predators and pests naturally, without pesticides or poisons.
Types of Predators and Pests
Farmers shoot coyotes because coyotes threaten their livestock. Then they shoot gophers because gophers dig holes in the pasture and these holes are dangerous if a farm animal gets their leg stuck in it. Without gophers the coyotes prey on livestock.. and without coyotes, gopher populations grow.
Photo from photos8.com
Mice are attracted to barns because they offer shelter and often contain grains and other things mice can eat. Farmers keep cats to control the mice. Often barn cats are not spayed or neutered and reproduce rather quickly. Hawks, raccoons, and again, coyotes, consider kittens to be food and soon hang around looking for meals.
In some areas introduced species become a problem, most notably rats in North American, and rabbits in Australia.
It is not just mammals that cause problems for farmers. Insects eat crops and cause millions of dollars in loss and damages. Some insects, such as flies, ticks, and keds, cause problems for livestock, for example flies cause fly strike which can kill even full grown sheep. In this respect we can call these insects "predators".
It is a real struggle for farmers to maintain, and work with, the balance of nature on the farm. When hunters take the deer every fall it means coyotes will be looking for food in the winter. People shoot deer in theory, not only to eat them, but because they graze the pastures that cattle use. However deer are small in comparison and are very efficient eaters, living off of a minimal amount of food for their survival. Cattle on the other hand, need to eat lots of food.
Getting Rid of Predators and Pests
Some farmers shoot predators, but animals such as coyotes have their own way of regulating their population. If food is scare they do not breed, when their own populations are low (as when some have been shot) they breed more rapidly. Coyotes can be "Trained" to stay away. Walk towards them yelling and screaming, holding your hands in the air, and they tend to run away. Do this enough and you have trained them to stay away. Shoot them, and new "untrained" coyotes" will simply move into the area.
You can purchase wolf urine and use it to mark your property which will keep away many predators, and some pests, such as deer.
Skunks and porcupines can also be "trained" to stay away, by being chased away regularly, and by not leaving food out for them (skunks eat cat food, porcupines eat trees, which can be wrapped so they are off limits).
Proper fencing can reduce problems with predators.
Having a good guard dog can help, but some people note that having a dog actually encourages wild canines to come around. Farm dogs have even been observed playing with foxes.
Llamas and donkeys work well as guard animals for sheep and goats, only 1 is needed for a small flock. If you get 2 llamas they will not stick with the flock of animals they are suppose to be guarding. Since coyotes do not like "tall" things a standard donkey is more effective than a miniature one.
Chickens and ducks are not effective against predators but will eat insects such as flies and ticks, if let free range it is not uncommon to see chickens and ducks walking among the sheep, or other animals, and they even will pick flies, or keds, right off of an animal. Keeping an animal healthy and free of manure on its rump will reduce problems with fly strike.
Even more effective than chicken and ducks are guinea fowl, who will eat insect pests and sound the alarm when larger predators approach.
If the problem is aphids, as can be a problem for fruit growers, purchasing live ladybugs can help.
A good farm cat can help take care of mice, rats, and even snakes, a well fed cat is a better mouser.