How to deal with predators on your homestead
If your homestead is in a fairly rural area and if you have animals, you are very likely to have predators. Even if you are an urban homesteader, you could still have some predators lurking about. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with predators on your homestead.
Types of Predators on a Homestead
There are many different types of predators that can invade a homestead and wreak havoc. The types depend largely on your geographic area. Certain predators tend to be more prevalent in some areas more than others.
- Coyotes – A single coyote will tend to go after animals that are small to medium-sized, including livestock like lambs, ducks, young goats, chickens, and pigs. However, a pack may target larger animals like adult goats and cattle.
- Bobcats – Bobcats are somewhat larger than a housecat, but they are still rather small compared to other wild cats. They are nocturnal hunters and tend to prey on whatever happens to be nearby such as sheep, poultry, goats, rabbits, and even small pets. Bobcat attacks often leave just the body of poultry with the head missing. Other prey will have claw marks and bite marks on the head and body.
- Raccoons – Raccoons are way too smart for their own good. They can open simple locks and open unlocked doors. They usually leave plenty of evidence that they have been there, leaving body parts of animals scattered about, especially in the chicken coop which is where their prey of choice is contained.
- Foxes – Foxes attack quickly and with very little warning so they rarely leave much if any evidence behind. They typically prey on poultry, rabbits, young livestock, and rodents, but will also invade a henhouse and crack the eggs, licking the inside and leaving just the shells.
- Hawks – Hawks hunt from the air and tend to prey upon smaller animals like chickens, rabbits, ducks, and even small dogs and cats. They will watch from tree tops or as they glide high in the air and then swoop down to suddenly snatch up their prey.
- Owls – Owls are nocturnal hunters so poultry is fairly safe as long as they are put up at dusk. Owls may also go after snakes and rodents which can be beneficial to the homestead. However, they do hunt small pets like cats and dogs as well.
- Weasels – Weasels will kill for food, but they also kill for sport, stacking the bodies of their prey often after decapitating them. They are persistent and will continue attacking animals on a homestead until they have no animals left to prey on, they get bored, or they are scared away. And chicken wire does not deter them.
- Opossums – Of all homestead predators, opossums are probably the laziest. They usually won’t attack anything unless it is very easy such as an animal that is injured, sick, or very young. They can spread the neurological disease equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) to animals by leaving their feces on the property and livestock eating it. In rare cases, the disease can be transmitted via opossum bite.
Deterring Predators on Your Homestead
The best way to deter predators on your homestead is by using a multi-deterrent approach. For instance, get a couple of dogs to guard your place, and have a high, secure fence you can keep predators out.
Electrified fencing either wire or net can help keep predators out. Fladry, a wire fence that has red flags attached to it works well for wolves and coyotes. Guardian animals work quite well and they extend beyond the Great Pyrannese canine to include donkeys, geese, mini-donkeys, and llamas.
You can also use flashing lights and noise devices as long as they are not continuous and are moved often. Painting predator eyes on your barn roof or the roof of your chicken coop can deter aerial predators like hawks and owls.
Keep all young animals and poultry in a predator proof area at night. When an animal gives birth on your property, quickly clean up the area and get the biological waste off your property – the same goes for animals that die on your property. Remove them or bury them.
Do not leave dog food and cat food out at night and don’t put meat, dairy, and eggs in your compost. Keep your garbage tightly closed, preferably in a locked area. And make sure that all locks are two-step locks to deter clever, curious raccoons.
It is possible to greatly reduce the presence of predators on your homestead. You may have to try a few things to find out what works, but eventually you should find the right combination.