This fact sheet was developed by students enrolled in Purdue's ANSC 442 Sheep Management course in Spring 2002, as a semester project. These fact sheets provide useful information on various topics related to sheep. View the list of fact sheets.
THE #1 PREDATOR OF SHEEP IS THE COYOTE!
How big of a problem are predators?
10% of sheep producers' loss each year is due to predators! It is also one of the leading reasons producers leave the business. Contrary to widespread belief, predators do not kill only the sick and weak. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a predator will take whatever is easiest to catch within their run-range. Coyotes will run their prey to exhaustion and cut the oxygen off at the throat. To determine what is your primary predator, contact your local APHIS office. If you have had a kill, examine the bite pattern. Coyotes attack the throat and then devour internal organs while cats attack from the back of the neck and break it. Neighborhood dogs will usually attack all over. The bite from a coyote or dog will be long and narrow with tiny puncture marks. A cat will leave a wide bite mark with big holes.
DAMAGE PREVENTION AND CONTROL METHODS
Since coyotes bear in late spring through September, changing to a fall lambing program will save many of your sheep.
What is the best prevention?
There are many forms:
www.highacresllamas.com (breeder contact)
Some Tips for Better Control
Always pour concrete floors in the barn and extend into the lot a little to prevent digging under the barn. If concrete is not poured beyond the perimeter of the barn, then bury chicken wire or tight wire fence at least 1-2 feet below ground. Make sure sliding doors shut tight and latch. Keep a separate room for lambing in the interior of the barn. Placing added security light around the perimeter also helps deter predators. Keep water sources near the barn to keep sheep close and predators away. Do not dump any garbage or food near the lot. Remove all old round bales, as they can be used for hiding. Mow grass frequently to remove additional hiding spaces.
Place all fence within 6 inches of the ground. It is advised to make the strand closest to the ground electric. Good maintenance on your fence is critical to success.
Sanitation should be a high concern to predator control. When lambing, remove all afterbirth immediately, as it will be a lure for predators. Also remove all dead piles as soon as possible and in the meantime move them away from the flock. Contact the local rendering plant for removal (in Indiana: Griffin Industries, Columbus). Contact your local APHIS office or Department of Natural Resources for legislation on traps and snares. There are leg hold traps and neck snare traps. Each state differs on regulations, so please contact your local office and find out the program that is best for you. Remove all dead trees and any possible den-building materials a coyote or other predator may use to build a den.
There are many types of guardian dogs available. The most popular is the Great Pyrenees, however there are many others. (To view go to http://www.lgd.org/) The GP has no prey drive and do not assist in herding. These dogs mark their territory by scent and sound, warning predators that the flock is guarded. A guardian dog needs lots of training and should be spayed/neutered. Given the chance, they will breed with coyotes. It is best to buy from a reputable breeder who can offer assistance with training and care of your puppy. However, some rescue dogs may be workable with training (www.1-800-save-a-pet.com)