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Guard animals with electronet fencing  RSS feed

 
Taylor Cleveland
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We are bringing home 4 hair/wool sheep crosses and maybe a goat in a couple of days (they were all that were available in our area for the price). We are using electronet fencing and moving them quite often. Our land is very overgrown and we have no idea how we will end up using it... And we have a small budget. So portable fencing it is!

I'm curious tho, is anyone out there raising sheep or goats in electronet without a guard animal? And if you do have a guard animal and electronet fencing have you actually seen them protect your flock from foxes/coyotes? We're in the tip of the ozarks in Missouri so we have no bears/wolves/mountain lions.

We were originally going to get a donkey, because the feed bill on a dog seems really high. But there are absolutely no lamas or donkeys in Missouri for sale. I'm curious how necessary they are. I assume the electric would be better at keeping out coyotes, right?

I know Travis has no guard animals and uses permanent fencing. That brings me comfort. I'm just curious about anyone else.

Advice please!!

 
Travis Johnson
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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.

 
Taylor Cleveland
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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.



We ran the numbers and we would rather loose a few sheep a year than feed a guard dog. Our friend pays $700 a year to feed hers. It just doesn't seem worth it. We're going to see how it goes without one, make sure we even like sheep, and then assess what other security measures are worth the cost. We have thought about making some small hoop house-ish buildings to move with them(so the would be light enough to move through the pasture) but I don't know how secure we can get them to be worth the hassle.
im glad you brought up the cattle. I really need to understand their lifecycle and needs a little more before I feel comfortable purchasing some but it's the only option that would actually increase profit. I have read a lot about sheep and cattle increasing the yeald per acre on pasture, and we want to eventually raise some anyway.

Thanks Travis!
 
Travis Johnson
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I came to the same conclusion myself. $700 a year would equate to dogs saving 7 sheep just to justify their costs. I have only lost 1 sheep to predators in 9 years (and it was by a crow so it is doubtful a dog would have prevented that loss anyway).

Now I do present this, only in the exchange of information and not to convince you (nor anyone) one way or the other, dogs or cows are a serious consideration BEFORE adding them to the farm, but that is: the cost of raising guardian dogs is deductible on your taxes, so the cost might be mitigated somewhat.

My attempts at protecting my sheep ended up costing far more then it was worth which have been donkeys and cows. In the end quality Page Wire fence has worked the best, but it serves double-duty; keeping predators out, but also required to keep sheep in!
 
Wes Hunter
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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Your no mountain lion comment is incorrect.  They perhaps aren't incredibly numerous, but they're around.  I don't know if black bears get quite that far north.

We kept a handful of Cheviot rams in electronet with no guard animals a few years ago, for maybe 3 or 4 months, and it went fine.  They had a portable shelter, but weren't confined to it at night.  I don't know if the fencing 'worked' against coyotes.  We have plenty around, but they have yet to seem to be a big problem with our poultry.  So I don't know if the electronet kept the coyotes away from the sheep, or if they just never got close to begin with.  Plus, the sheep were in a pasture with our cows, so that may have had an effect.

If you can't find a donkey, I'd suggest you aren't looking hard enough.  Try posting wanted ads at local feed stores, and maybe hit up the vendors at a farmers market to get some leads.
 
Regan Dixon
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Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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It surprises me that in your parts, it's so expensive to feed a dog, but so cheap to buy sheep.  Where I am, the cost of feeding a dog for a year, is less than the price of a decent animal.  But, if you look at the price-of-eggs thread, it shows how much regional pricing varies.
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