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View Full Version : A two-part question about predators and how best to deal with the problem.



Root Beer
Jun. 10, 2010, 08:00 PM
First, the backstory. We have had our farm for nearly eight years with no problems. I had new non-climb fencing installed shortly after we bought the place, and I wrongly assumed that we were "safe". Monday night or the wee hours of Tuesday morning, something killed my favorite goat, Olive. Imagine the horror of finding a pet you had for over seven years murdered by something.

This leads to my first question. What was it? We have had a new pack of coyotes in the area recently, and initially I thought it was coyote. I couldn't find any puncture wounds on her head or throat, and since only one hind leg had been predated upon, it would seem to be a coyote-kill. However, the carcass had been partially covered with scratched-up grasses and some small tree limbs. Many folks I've consulted with claim that this is cougar behaviour, and that makes me very nervous. I can take precautions to keep coyotes out, but I can't keep out a cougar. I was hoping some COTHers could help me with identifying the predator (RatBastid!) that got my goat.

Secondly, what would the best protection be? If it was coyotes, could a donkey protect my critters? If it was a cougar, I can only consider a LGD. This leads to a question of which breed to go with. I'm leaning towards Anatolian Shepards at this time, but I would love to hear from owners of all LGD breeds to chime in with why they love their sentrys and the longevity and maintanence of each breed. I know it's alot to ask, but I'm grieving for my beloved Olive. She was the best goat ever, and I want to make sure this doesn't happen again.

And yes, I have installed a solar motion-detection flood light on my barn and have a high-powered rifle with a great scope on it. Just wish I had that set-up two nights ago.......:(

everafterfarm
Jun. 10, 2010, 08:31 PM
Wow, a cougar. good luck.

I think the A Sheps are an EXCELLENT idea! You can get them a year or 2 old that have already been taught to guard. If you can afford more than 1 even better. If you watch them, they will lay so each one is watching a different direction. They are bigger and stronger than the other herd protection breeds and they tend to be more aggressive(in a good way, not toward people or livestock).

I did see a video of some people who were trail riding and were attacked by a cougar. 1 person was on a mule and they fell off. The mule however grabbed the cougar by the tail and actually beat it to death by swinging it and banging it off the ground. I'm betting that was a quite rare occurance though.

fivehorses
Jun. 10, 2010, 08:39 PM
Root Beer, where do you live?

I am sorry about the loss of your Olive. I have a goat who I love dearly, and would be very upset if I lost him to a predator.

I, too thought no climb was a safe fence to keep predators out and my animals safe. Again, my condolences.

Root Beer
Jun. 10, 2010, 08:49 PM
Wow, ever! I would love to have a mule like that. Maybe that's what I need, a big-ole cougar-smiting mule. It would make a nice team with my cougar-smiting rifle. To be honest, that evening I sat up all night in the pasture near the area of The Kill in a chair. I had a thermos of coffee, a pitchfork, a flashlight, my rifle and a murderous attitude. Seriously, if what-ever-it-was had come back to the scene of the crime, I wouldn't have hesitated to stab it to death with my trusty pitchfork. Not smart, I know; but I'm very protective of my critters.

Now that it's been a couple of days, I'm thinking more clearly, hence the questions about LGD. I'll count your post as #1 for Anatolians. Thank you!

MelantheLLC
Jun. 10, 2010, 08:49 PM
My father has had Pyrs and Maremmas for a number of years out with goats. The things to keep in mind:

1) LGD's will wander. They like to have a big territory and they like to patrol it. So they will not "stay home" if there is no fence. In the pasture, my father has electric fences that can be moved with the goats.

2) The pyrs are generally considered more people friendly (I'm talking about strangers, such as the odd wandering human kid). Maremmas and Anatolians can be a bit more to handle. This is no comment on individual dogs--no need to list all the great Maremmas and Anatolians people have known. I love LGD's! But they are bred to protect from predators, and some are more broad in their interpretation than others.

3) LGD's can climb out of fences, and will. 5 ft is considered minimum for a Pyr that is inclined to "patrol." On the other hand, my two companion pyrs never even tested a 3 ft fence, so obviously there's variety.

4) Like all big dogs, LGD's can have hip and stifle issues.

5) LGD's are like burglar alarms--their job is to bark all night at anything suspicious. If you have neighbors, check how they feel about it.

6) Like burglar alarms, their primary usefulness is deterrence. They may lay around and look lazy in the day, but at night they are active. They don't attack--they defend and deter. The only time my father's pyrs got in a serious fight was when a bobcat came inside the electric fence by a tree, and got trapped in there. There was blood spilled, on dogs and cat, but not on goats.

I agree with everafter, if you have a pasture situation, you should have a pair. If you are looking to protect a barnyard or smaller fenced area, one should do it, though of course they'd love a buddy.

There is nothing like those lovely deep voices barking in the night, when you can hear the coyotes far away. We lost our older Pyr 2 years ago, to old age, and I miss her 20 times a day (and night.)

OE: And I am so sorry about Olive. Very hard.

Root Beer
Jun. 10, 2010, 09:03 PM
fivehorses; I'm in southern Oregon, the Applegate Valley to be exact. We have coyotes, foxes, bears and cougars.

MelantheLLC , Thank you for the personal experience with Pyrs and Maremmas. I was hoping for something with a shorter coat as I have horses, sheep, goats and border collies to groom. Also in the house: two Ragdoll cats that need daily grooming. I'm already up to my eyeballs in fur!!!!!! I haven't pursued the LGD option before precisely because of the reason you mentioned. Night-time barking. But now that one of my babies has been killed, it's all out warfare. Neighbors be damned!!! I already hear all of their dogs barking all night at it is.

pintopiaffe
Jun. 10, 2010, 09:09 PM
I'm so sorry about Olive. :( Goats have so much personality. :cry: I sort of wish for you you'd gotten your revenge that night. I can understand completely where you were at that moment!

Do you have *any* dogs already?

I am researching LGDs as we speak for the inevitable day when my pair of Viszla/labbie mixes pass on...

I have cats (bobs and mountain lion) bears, coyotes and fishers. The fishers are a problem for my barn kitties--but only when kitties stray into fisher territory. But nothing actually comes into my pastures or near the barn areas, other than the occasional fox, I think because of the dogs I already have... even though they aren't specific livestock dogs... They coyotes will come right to the edge of my pasture, in the adjacent 13 acres... but not onto my land. <knockingwoodmadly>

If you already have dogs, walking them and letting them pee and poop as much as possible around the fencelines is helpful. I had something LARGE (bear probably) disturbing a grave, and just walking the dogs out there and their marking was enough to deter. (and they are neutered, but they will mark pretty reliably in new areas that smell like other critters...

I'll be reading this with interest on the LGDs as I have a couple years to plan/save and decide. But thought it might be useful to mention if you already have other dog(s) that there's something you can do right away.

I'm so sorry.

Twiliath
Jun. 10, 2010, 09:21 PM
How about a guard llama? They do guard against dogs and coyotes. But I don't know about cougars.

Twiliath
Jun. 10, 2010, 09:22 PM
Okay, just found a site that says that llamas are useless against packs and cougars. Sorry.

Root Beer
Jun. 10, 2010, 09:26 PM
Thank you for the condolences, pintopiaffe and everyone. I will walk the border collies around the perimeter to do their business, it couldn't hurt. But they stay in at night, they're both under 40 pounds and not much use as guardians.

I'm still curious about what predator it was exactly. I'm confused. Olive wasn't eviscerated, but the hide had been removed on the side that was facing up. Her right hind leg had been eaten down to the bone, but no broken bones. No large puncture wounds to her head or neck. But the covering up of the carcass with the grass and small limbs makes it look very much like a cougar. Any thoughts on that? Anyone with experience in this area? I tried calling the local Fish and Game people, but they're woefully understaffed and had no one that could get back to me yet.

Bluey
Jun. 10, 2010, 09:48 PM
Our mountain lions bring down large livestock easily, eat what they want and drag it under cover and cover it up some more.
They come later to eat more.

The only way around here to keep smaller animals like goats safe is to put them in at night.
We had a milking goat herd and a couple of loose ones as pets and all were put in stalls in the horse barn at night, or we would lose some and that was not acceptable.

Grown cattle and horses have a chance to defend themselves and/or get away, goats, sheep, etc. don't.:no:

The good thing about mountain lions is that each one covers and protects a large territory of some 150 square miles, so you probably only have one and, for the way it treated the kill, it may be holed close raising kittens.

Generally, they don't stay in one area long.

Sorry about your goat.:cry:

MistyBlue
Jun. 10, 2010, 10:45 PM
No tracks?
It does sound like a cat or a bear, no climb fences aren't useful against stuff that just bounces or climbs over them. Also no punctures or bites...a large cat will swipe once at the head, turning the head sharply and breaking the neck. At least it will on a smaller animal like a goat. Also check along the spine lower down for tooth punctures. They'll also go for a paralyzing bite on the back if they miss the neck.
Bears also kill with a paw swipe to the head/neck.
If you haven't buried the goat, check for a broken neck.
And if you haven't buried the goat, as gruesome as this sounds (and I mean absolutely no disrespect, my apologies in advance) then leave the poor thing where you found it and recover and keep an eye out then. Bears and cats come back within 24 hours.

There's also a possibility the goat could have been grabbed by the hind leg and went into shock or it's heart failed.


My deepest condolences on the loss of yoour longtime pet. :(

MelantheLLC
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:04 PM
MelantheLLC , Thank you for the personal experience with Pyrs and Maremmas. I was hoping for something with a shorter coat as I have horses, sheep, goats and border collies to groom.

Heh, my father and the foreman would laugh at the thought of grooming the LGD's. They are in TX, and get a full-body shave in April, so hair grows back a bit before summer sun, and that's it.

I don't know too much about Anatolians. A former BO once bought one, to "protect" the barn (in spite of my warning about wandering.) I think she thought it would stick with her like a typical dog. But no. It would be found miles away. Finally she started penning it up in the run next to my horse, and they would play through the fence but I felt very sorry for it. Eventually it got loose, ran through a house under construction and skidded all over newly grouted floor tile. BO was presented with the bill, and announced that she would be "getting rid" of the dog. A boarder took it home, and as far as I know it's HEA.

They have short hair so no grooming, but they are fairly intimidating. I don't know your situation, but you have to consider that if the dog roams and is found in someone's backyard, many people will be very afraid of it. (Ask us how we know.)

All LGD's tend to be "aloof" with strangers as a breed characteristic. They aren't labs, or herding dogs. Extremely independent, "difficult" to train. Putting a serious recall on an LGD takes constant effort and lots of food rewards. (Again ask me how I know!)

That said, one of my companion Pyrs never met a human she didn't like. The younger one is much more shy. And my father's that were raised from puppyhood with the livestock will have nothing to do with strangers, they run away even from me, a frequent visitor.

Some can handle both companion and LGD duties just fine. Others are one or the other. This is individual variation, not between breeds.

Ideally, they will have been raised from puppyhood with all the variety of stock they are supposed to protect, from goats to chickens to housecats. Otherwise, they will react just like "normal" dogs and may chase. Their chase instinct is low, but it is there.

LOL, and don't ask them to retrieve! They will just look at you with a puzzled frown and say, "Well go get it, and I'll chew on it."

Sorry, sorry. I do love Pyrs in particular, and could yak about them all day.

Root Beer
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:21 PM
I was in a bit of shock myself when I found Olive, so I didn't check her spine. There were no tracks, as it was green pasture. There were no drag marks or bloodtrails, so she died where I found her. She was found close to the fenceline in an area where they normally didn't wander, she was may have been chased down there. I have already buried her (it took me over six hours to dig the hole by hand, lots of clay soil, tree roots and rocks), and now I'm kicking myself for not checking her spine for puncture marks. I really do want to know what happened to her.

And MelantheLLC, you're making a good case for the Pyrs. I forgot about the summer strip that most farm dogs get. I do realize LGD are independent thinkers and will not be a 'pet' per se. My champion poodle I had many years ago wouldn't fetch either. I'd throw a ball for him, and he'd look at me and say "Why'd you do that for? Now YOU have to go get that ball. Silly Mommy!!!" I'm totally a dog person and am willing to work with whatever I get on a case-by-case basis. I'm prepared to spend the time and effort to train the dog as best I can. I'm looking for a local breeder so I can meet the parents and get assistance if needed.

kaluha2
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:58 PM
The farmer across from was having a problem with something killing his goats and he thought it might be coyotes although he could never find any punture wounds. One morning while he was gone I heard one of his goats screaming and I ran across the road to see what was going on and I was shocked to find his yearling colt was chasing down and attacking this goat. It was a horrible thing to witness and by the time I got a halter on the yearling and put him in another field the poor goat was too far gone.

All this being said, this still does not explain your goat being covered up with grasses and twigs. That does sound like a big cat.

Very sorry for you and Olive.

wateryglen
Jun. 11, 2010, 08:42 AM
Covering up a kill is classic dog behavior and I'm quite sure it's your coyotes. Your description fits. Foxes, coyotes do it and my pet dog does it with her bone!! The goat was probably too large for them to carry away. They will come back to feed on a carcass and of course they are nocturnal. Ask your local extension agent and do some research on coyotes. There's some websites w/pictures of different kinds of kills so you can be sure.

Bluey
Jun. 11, 2010, 08:45 AM
Covering up a kill is classic dog behavior and I'm quite sure it's your coyotes. Your description fits. Foxes, coyotes do it and my pet dog does it with her bone!! The goat was probably too large for them to carry away. They will come back to feed on a carcass and of course they are nocturnal. Ask your local extension agent and do some research on coyotes. There's some websites w/pictures of different kinds of kills so you can be sure.

Our coyotes don't cover anything, but that may be because they feed on larger animals, from calves on up.:confused:

Coyote kills or scavenging generally opens the body cavity, they don't just eat on a leg.

RacetrackReject
Jun. 11, 2010, 09:31 AM
My original thought, based on your description, was bear or cougar. Mistyblue then confirmed it could be either as well. I would hope that your Parks and Wildlife people would be interested in a possible large predator coming into the area to feed, so I would keep calling them.

So sorry about the loss of your friend. I'm sure it was heartbreaking for you and your family.

Megaladon
Jun. 11, 2010, 09:34 AM
So very sorry about the loss of your little goat :(

I have a goat that was a rescue and for her safety every night, she gets locked away in a stall in the barn. This will probably be your best bet.

Good luck and again my condolences.

JSwan
Jun. 11, 2010, 09:45 AM
Based on your description is does sound more like a big cat or maybe a bear rather than a coyote.

I guess it's also possible that a dog did it. I've got nonclimb horsewire on my place and my sister's dog climbed it like a ladder and got into a pasture to attack a goat.

The goat did go into shock and if that is what happened to your goat, might be why the scene looked like it did. No blood trail or anything. She just kind of froze and dropped once the dog had her. (I was there when the attack occurred). She did recover.

I'm very sorry you lost your goat. Since you obviously have a large predator hanging around and you're not quite what your plans are- you'll want to lock animals up at night if nothing else.

Attacks happen fast and without warning. A predator most likely has been watching your place for a long time and you just never knew it. Be vigilant and watch for tracks, scat and other trace.

Again, I'm very sorry for your loss.

Here's a website that might be of help in identifying any trace that you see:

http://www.enature.com/home/

Search by species. There are usually tabs with photos or diagrams of scat, prints, or other trace.

Good luck.

wildlifer
Jun. 11, 2010, 10:04 AM
Don't rule out dogs. Far more likely than coyotes.

cheval convert
Jun. 11, 2010, 10:10 AM
Wow, a cougar. good luck.

I think the A Sheps are an EXCELLENT idea! You can get them a year or 2 old that have already been taught to guard. If you can afford more than 1 even better. If you watch them, they will lay so each one is watching a different direction. They are bigger and stronger than the other herd protection breeds and they tend to be more aggressive(in a good way, not toward people or livestock).

I did see a video of some people who were trail riding and were attacked by a cougar. 1 person was on a mule and they fell off. The mule however grabbed the cougar by the tail and actually beat it to death by swinging it and banging it off the ground. I'm betting that was a quite rare occurance though.

Did you actually see a video of this or a series of pictures. I saw a series of pictures of this story but when I checked it on Snopes, it turned out that the came upon the body of a cougar and the mule picked it up and beat it. But the mule did not kill it, cougar was already dead. (And yes, I was hoping it was a true story but I have become very skeptical of anything I read on the internet.)

CatOnLap
Jun. 11, 2010, 10:13 AM
well, it sounds like cougar to me and congratulations on harbouring this wonderful large and scarce cat.
If it is a cougar, you will often notice a strong cat urine odour within a few hours of their passing through.
I am sorry your goat died, though, but around here animals are kept in at night for that reason.
Although with increasing urbanization and development and infill housing in our formerly farm community, now a suburb, its been 5 years since there was a cat sighting around here. :(

My horse tangles with a cougar about 10 years ago- we figure a juvenile male was wandering during the day and the horse, who doesn't like dogs and large cats, went after it. He got raked down his haunch for that, and pulled a muscle in his hind leg, but the scratches were superficial and the muslce healed in a few months. We found the tracks in our groomed sand ring- twice the size of any dog, and also the remains of a bunny he'd eaten in our backyard and signs of the pounce and kill in the long grass.

We miss our big cats.

JSwan
Jun. 11, 2010, 10:22 AM
e cats, went after it. He got raked down his haunch for that, and pulled a muscle in his hind leg, but the scratches were superficial and the muslce healed in a few months.

A friend's field hunter bears the marks of a big cat attack. The horse originally came from out West somewhere, Wyoming or Montana.

There was a huge hunk missing from its haunch and a lot of scarring. Horse was sound, though.

Amazingly, the horse was ok with animals coming up from behind. I would think he'd have been a bit skittish but nope.

Root Beer
Jun. 14, 2010, 01:35 PM
An update for anyone that's interested. I spoke at length with a biologist at Fish and Game on Friday. I started describing exactly how I found Olive, and the biologist said "That's a cat, continue" I further described the 'scene of the crime', and she repeated "That's a cat". At least I now know what happened. The cougar was probably stalking the deer that drink at the creek that runs along the bottom of my property.

This has changed the dynamics of how I keep my herd in a big way. If I can avenge Olive in any way, it's making sure that it doesn't ever happen again. My critters are in the barn every night. I go down in the pasture and yell "Lock Down!!" a couple of hours before dusk. The sheep and goats come running into the barn, they have the new routine down pat. I still have to halter the horses to bring them in, but in time they will figure it out (I hope!)

On Wednesday I spoke with a local breeder of Anatolians. He didn't have any pups/dogs to sell, but he made phone calls this weekend. He called me yesterday to tell me of an older couple that wanted to re-home their 2YO Anatolian, and the goat that he has bonded with. I called the lady, and today we're bringing home Timber (the Anatolian) and Hunter (his nubian-cross goat). I'm finally going to get some sleep at night, with everyone tucked into the barn at night, and a massive guardian dog as insurance.

And now, I can find the time to take out for a good long cry for my Olive. I've been in a state of shock since finding her, doing all the pro-active things, and now I have the luxury of a good cry. I will miss that goat forever. I'm just kicking myself for not doing all these things sooner. You live, you learn.

Go Fish
Jun. 14, 2010, 02:02 PM
On Wednesday I spoke with a local breeder of Anatolians. He didn't have any pups/dogs to sell, but he made phone calls this weekend. He called me yesterday to tell me of an older couple that wanted to re-home their 2YO Anatolian, and the goat that he has bonded with. I called the lady, and today we're bringing home Timber (the Anatolian) and Hunter (his nubian-cross goat). I'm finally going to get some sleep at night, with everyone tucked into the barn at night, and a massive guardian dog as insurance.

I think that's a good decision. I have a neighbor that uses Anatolians to guard her goats, sheep, miniature deer and llamas as well as every type of chicken/duck/goose/p-hens/turkey imaginable. Since she got a pair of these dogs, she hasn't lost anything. Amazing dogs...

The one thing that cougars are extremely frightened of is dogs...

Root Beer
Jun. 14, 2010, 02:09 PM
Go Fish, you're totally right. The breeder I spoke with wants to come out next week to see how I'm doing with Timber. And he has offered to help me with training the dog. How dedicated is that?

My new motto is: No More Freakin' Cougars!

Go Fish
Jun. 14, 2010, 02:18 PM
Go Fish, you're totally right. The breeder I spoke with wants to come out next week to see how I'm doing with Timber. And he has offered to help me with training the dog. How dedicated is that?

My new motto is: No More Freakin' Cougars!

Very cool! A word of warning...these dogs shed like the dickens! I thought my Corgis were bad, but you could bed a stall with the hair that comes off an Anatolian in the spring!

Catersun
Jun. 14, 2010, 02:26 PM
awesome on your new additions rootbeer... keep us update of how timber does!

Root Beer
Jun. 14, 2010, 02:28 PM
Oh great! another animal that needs grooming. Just what I need. Let's see, I've got four horses, three goats (soon to be back to four), two Barbados sheep, a long-coated barn cat, two Border Collies, a Westie and two Ragdoll cats to groom. Sweet! I'm going to have forearms like Popeye before long.:)

Root Beer
Jun. 27, 2010, 01:51 PM
I just wanted to let everyone know how things are going with the new additions. Timber (the Anatolian Shepard) has turned out to be an awesome farm dog. He loves the grandkids and is totally my dog. He follows me everywhere when I'm doing the barn chores, and I feel so safe with this 140lb dog next to me. I've put a deposit down on a bitch pup so I'll have two of these majestic animals in my pasture. I may end up showing the new pup, as I've become quite devoted to Anatolians since I've had Timber. He's exactly what I needed. He's not an indiscriminate barker, if he's barking; it's because there's something that needs to be barked at. Wish I could say the same for my Border Collies.:winkgrin:

And Timber did come with his BFF, the nubian-cross goat. His name is Harley and he is fitting in nicely with the rest of the herd. When I can capture some video, I will post it to youtube. You see, Harley likes to hump Timber. It's too funny, really. It's wrong on so many levels. Firstly, Timber and Harley were raised together. That's incest. Secondly, they're both neutered, so what's the point? Thirdly, they're both males, and that's so gay! Fourthly, the whole inter-species thing. But I love them both, and my farm is feeling much more secure now that they're here.

After the experiences of the last two weeks, I will always have LGDs on my farm. I don't know how I managed without them!

cwill
Jun. 27, 2010, 02:36 PM
I've been interested in guard dogs for a while but I've always wondered how they would fair with cougars. Are you still bringing your animals in at night with the guard dog around?

Anyway, it's cool to hear of a way of dealing with cougars that doesn't involve guns.

Root Beer
Jun. 27, 2010, 02:52 PM
cwill, I'm still locking everyone up for the night. I'm not taking any chances. Timber lies at the top of the pasture every day, just watching the herd. It's very comforting to know that he's always looking out for my herd of babies.