Travis Johnson wrote:With only a few animals you have a lot going for you as far as their safety. It is not 100% protection of course, but having only a few animals does not really draw the prey in like having a lot of sheep would. I think it has to do with smells.
If you are away from waterways, that helps too as Predator Animals tend to like river basins or streams to catch deer and wildlife going for their drinks. Again it does not mean 100% protection, but maybe you can rest a bit easier.
A cheap alternative might just be a run in shelter at night. I am not talking anything fancy...even a WOFATI Type structure would work. Pen them in at night and let them out during the day. Predators tend to strike livestock animals around 4AM to Dawn.
And don't forget I used cows as livestock guard animals too. My family is primarily dairy farmers so getting Holstein to raise for beef was easy, and I tried grazing them with sheep. In my case it did not work out because I had PERMANENT Fence (Page Wire) that the cows liked to lay against and knock the wire down. In your case though, with electricity they would get a jolt and that would not happen. They did tend to chase the sheep which meant the sheep lost condition as well as the cows, but its not a huge issue. In fact I think cows as livestock guard animals would serve many homesteaders well. They are so multi-purpose. (1) Livestock Guard Animal (2) Beef for the freezer (3) Oxen Team (if a homesteader could train them)
Are all these ideas 100% effective? Certainly not, but it is like insurance, if you live away from a major water body, have only a few animals, have a large animal as a discouragement, can pen your animals in at night...the chances are less at having issues, that is all.
Now how effective is a cow against a predator? Well pretty darn effective actually. We had just finished milking and looked up on the hill and thought one of the cows had Listerosis because it was circling in the pasture. We got out the binoculars and what happened was, a cow (Holstein) had calfed and a coyote was trying to get the calf. The cow put herself between the coyote and calf as protection. Even in Maine where a coyote is the biggest in the world, they won't take on a cow due to its size, but will take a calf. Anyway the coyote was distracted enough for us to get a shot off and save the calf. So just the mere presence of a cow may hold a coyote at bay.