We had a tragedy at the farm the other night; we lost some chickens to what appears to be a coyote or two. Coyotes are part of the natural circle of life and because we as humans basically eradicated their natural enemy the wolf, we’re forced to deal with these predators. Wolves don’t tolerate coyotes. When the wolves are depleted or hunted to near extinction, the more adaptable coyote moves into the niche.
To be certain, I’m going to spread a bed of fine sand around at night to see what tracks are left or use a game camera. What’s for sure is that, having had a taste of chicken; whatever it is will keep coming back. Here’s a picture of paw prints and sizes to help you figure out what you might have coming to visit your flock.
We’ve had chickens for several years and have never had a problem with any predator, be it; fox, raccoon, hawk, possum, skunk, or what have you. They are fenced in by 5 ½ ’ walls in the run and a pen fully enclosed in the barn except for a small 15” door to the run.
I’m certain it was coyote based on the fur I found on the outer fence and the fact the chickens were carried away with no sign of struggle or mess in the hen house. From now on, we’ll be locking the chickens in the barn at night by closing and locking the small entrance door.
- Use net-wire or electric fencing to keep coyotes away from livestock.
- Confine livestock in a coyote-proof corral at night when coyotes are most likely to attack livestock.
- Use lights above corrals.
- Remove dead livestock so coyotes won’t be attracted to scavenge.
- Use sirens or strobe lights to scare coyotes away.
- Motion detection lights are also useful.
- Use guard animals, such as dogs, donkeys, and llamas, to protect livestock.
- Harass coyotes with loud noises, clapping hands, yelling, throwing rocks at them and waving our arms to create fear.
- Don’t feed your pets outdoors.
- Don’t ever feed coyotes.
- Don’t let coyotes have access to rubbish or compost heaps
- Don’t feed feral cats / stray dogs / wildlife / anything except your own kids
- If you have sheep / goats / cows etc then collect any placentas in the birthing season as these will attract coyotes
- Call the local Fish & Wildlife or local law enforcement agency if coyotes attack humans, become too aggressive by approaching humans and showing lack of fear of humans, or if they attack small pets.
My favorite is the donkey. Who’d a thought donkeys are the ass-kickers of the animal world? Get it….Ass kicker? If you have the appropriate fencing, a donkey is worth considering. Donkeys have an unrelenting hatred of anything dog-like and are quite capable of dealing with coyotes and probably even a wolf or two donkeys can’t be fooled by coyotes, who have been known to befriend the farm dog and be allowed the run of the place.
Reinforce your fencing
Bury your chicken wire into the ground, go 18″ or so into the ground and then bend the wire to form an L shape so that a persistent digger digs into the “crotch” of the L and gets no where fast. Otherwise, some animals will dig under your wire even if its two or more feet deep.
Also, you can try running a line of barbed wire at the bottom of your chicken wire fence. That will keep burrowing critters out. Works with wild pigs and they are pretty persistent burrowers.
For diagrams and instructions on livestock fences please reference the following PDF document: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/nreos/wild/pdf/wildlife/COYOTES.PDF
Coyotes are not protected animals. Check your state’s Fish and Wildlife laws to see what is required to hunt coyotes. Some states do not require a license. Coyote are considered non-game mammals and can be taken at any time. In Ohio there is No closed season for hunting or trapping of coyote.
You want to let your flock free range but you have to ensure the safety of the birds. You can’t be upset with the coyote, it’s part of nature, part of farm life but what you do about it is up to you. If you shoot it, more will just take it’s place. I read once that a family had a dog to protect the flock but the coyotes were smart enough to lure the dog away and grab the chickens. It wasn’t until they got 2 Pyrenees dogs that the flock was safe.
Weight: 15-45 lbs.
Length with tail: 40-60″
Shoulder Height: 15-20″
Sexual Maturity: 1-2 years
Mating Season: Jan-March
Gestation Period: 58-65 days
No. of Young: 2-12, 6 avg.
Birth Interval: 1 year
Lifespan: 15 years in the wild
Typical diet: Small mammals,
insects, reptiles, fruit & carrion
- Only 5-20% of coyote pups survive their first year.
- The coyote can run at almost 40 mph and can get over a 8′ fence.
- Coyotes can breed with both domestic dogs and wolves. A dog-coyote mix is called a “coydog.”
- The coyote is more likely afraid of you than vice-versa.
- Coyotes maintain their territory by marking it with urine.
- Urban coyotes survive far longer than their rural cousins. A coyote living in urban Chicago has a 60-percent chance of surviving for one year, while a rural coyote has a 30 percent chance of living for another year.
- Coyotes also do some good – they help control rapidly growing populations of Canada geese throughout North America
- Coyotes are found in most of North America, except the cold Arctic tundra. Coyotes can adapt to most climates quite well.
- Coyotes account for 65 percent of all cattle and calf losses to predators and 61 percent of sheep and lamb predation
- The coyote is able to detect hunters coming from a mile away or even more.
Have you ever had any experiences with coyotes or other predators? How did you deal with it?
Here is a great link on how to protect your chickens from coyotes: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/coyote-chicken-predators-how-to-protect-your-chickens-from-coyotes
Ohh and thank you everyone for putting our blog past 800 followers. We are so very grateful!
Next Post, I’m going to go over the Poll from a few weeks ago, If you haven’t voted yet, Please do so: If you had all the land you wanted, what livestock would you keep?
Update: I think it might be a raccoon after all but I’ve already completed this piece on coyotes.