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wood ticks in a food forest

 
Mary Catherine Ricchio
Posts: 2
Location: edge of the prairie in Minnesota
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Sorry, as a newbie, if I have missed this subject. I am starting to learn about permaculture and while I love the idea I am concerned about ticks. What is your experience? My tiny farm is over run with rabbits and they host a huge tick population. The general advice is to clear cut but I can't do that.
My horse nearly died from a tick borne illness this spring so I am more vigilant now.

 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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We use and promote ground birds for ticks. Our dogs used to get at least one a day years ago in tick season. Now I haven't pulled any this year. Quail, robins, and other ground birds do a great job. Chickens patrol the garden and food forest areas along with native birds.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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I'm told that guinea fowl are very willing and motivated tick predators. no personal experience with that, though, as ticks aren't such an issue around here.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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If an area is over-run by rabbits, it is likely a result of an ecological imbalance - not enough rabbit predators. What I would probably do in that situation is fill the need by removing rabbits. Less rabbits = less ticks. If removing rabbits is not your thing, then supplying tick predators as has been suggested would help, but that's a lot more work and up-front expense. At least you may not have much to worry about regarding animals praying on your birds since there doesn't seem to be any predators around to eat the rabbits.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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some great advice...I too would try to eliminate the rabbits if they are a problem, this time of year they aren't really good eating I don't think, but you might hunt them off in the fall and winter or get animals that are predatory against rabbits..or as said above the birds against the ticks.

it might be simple enough as putting bird feeders all over the property for a few months as well, the birds will be drawn in by the food and then they'll eat what they can find. Of course. rabbits will also be drawn to dropped bird food..oh well...fortunately we don't have a lot of tick problems here either.
 
Mary Catherine Ricchio
Posts: 2
Location: edge of the prairie in Minnesota
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thanks for the suggestions. I know the balance is off - I am in between huge monoculture fields and then state wilderness just up the road. I can't put out bird feeders because we are in an area that now has black bears again for the first time in 100 years and they are wising up to our habits and demolishing feeders!

Do you clear the underbrush from woodland as part of the process?
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Rabbits do like to have the underbrush for shelter so thinning it out would help with the rabbit issue. BUT it would also disturb other critters that use that space. Plus, it'll just grow back unless you plant other things in that area. Moreover, my assumption is that you'll want some shrubby food producers in that area as you build you food forest, so watch carefully for while and ID those plants that are worth keeping. Then you can replace the "less useful" thicket with more food/medicinal/fiber stuff. The shrub layer can be a huge producer in the forest. clearing it wouldn't be very good in my opinion.

One other thing you could try is to plant things rabbits like in the areas of your property that you don't visit often. That will draw them away from your spaces and keep the ticks further from you.

 
chip sanft
Posts: 332
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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bike books dog
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Have you seen the tick repellent thread? It has suggestions from a few different perspectives. <Tick Repellent>
 
Adam Weaver
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Guinea fowl is your best option and fast. Within in a year you will have very few pest on your land. Start with 5 per acre and they breed like no other so by year two you will have 20 and they sell fast. Or make good food. vegan here got them to keep the pest down and no regrets. Great watch dogs too. far better then my geese every were and guinea actually help around the farm.

 
R Hasting
Posts: 183
Location: Mineola, Texas
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:Rabbits do like to have the underbrush for shelter so thinning it out would help with the rabbit issue. BUT it would also disturb other critters that use that space. Plus, it'll just grow back unless you plant other things in that area. Moreover, my assumption is that you'll want some shrubby food producers in that area as you build you food forest, so watch carefully for while and ID those plants that are worth keeping. Then you can replace the "less useful" thicket with more food/medicinal/fiber stuff. The shrub layer can be a huge producer in the forest. clearing it wouldn't be very good in my opinion.

One other thing you could try is to plant things rabbits like in the areas of your property that you don't visit often. That will draw them away from your spaces and keep the ticks further from you.



Birds are the ticket for the ticks.
My solution to too many rabbits is to use a dog. A dog will also help keep out your bears, and reduce other predator types.
Check out Pauls recent podcast of Livestock Guardian dogs.

Also, you need to put something into the vacuum left behind by the rabbits. Have something that eats what they eat. Maybe a goat or some sheep...

You need to fill the space that the rabbits are overpopulating.
 
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