How to Protect Calves from Coyotes: Non-Lethal Solutions

Two Calves Needing Protection

Calf Predators Are a Fact of Life

Coyotes target calves as easy prey. In a 2011 NASS report, predators cost Kansas producers about 800 cows and 3900 calves with a value of $2.2 million. While this illustrates the high cost of predation, it also points out the extreme vulnerability of calves compared to full-grown cattle.

Protecting Calves Is a Lot More Difficult With Plenty at Stake

Calves fresh from their mothers’ wombs are natural targets for coyotes. They’re not very mobile, basically defenseless and extremely easy for coyotes to kill and consume. It’s a significant problem for those raising cattle and can affect the viability of your breeding program. As your calf numbers dwindle, so goes your business’ future. If you have a significant amount invested in genetics, the cost per coyote kill can skyrocket.

Your Future Depends on Discouraging Coyote Attacks

Coyotes actually target newborns, killing on the first day of life if they can so they can make quick work of the little one’s meat and its internal organs. Unless you find a way to discourage them, they’ll return season after season to feast on calves, especially in hard times. They’ll also expand their hunt to your other creatures, significantly reducing the success of your livestock breeding program and overall farm production. It’s tempting to employ a lethal coyote control program, but there are other simpler, and often more effective, livestock protection options.

Llamas and Donkeys and Dogs, Oh My!

It can seem a bit comical to set llamas to work on your ranch or farm as guardians of your newborn calves, but it works. Llamas, donkeys, and dogs all have natural instincts to chase and harass intruders such as coyotes, making the coyotes’ attempts to kill calves much more difficult and reducing the chance that they’ll be successful and return for further kills.

Protecting Calves With a Bit of Profit as Well

Llamas are increasingly popular animals on many farms, and a key component of mini-farms because they are so easy to raise. Their hair is valuable for textile use — around 600 tons are used annually to create wonderful yarn for sweaters and other clothing. Llamas are natural protectors, and in conjunction with guard dogs and possibly even donkeys, they can give the coyotes a run for their money as they try to move in on your stock.

Up Your Fence Quality, Coverage and Voltage to Protect the Young Ones

Your cattle fencing is probably designed to provide a boundary for mature cows and bulls, not to keep smaller wildlife out. Changing that can help a lot, and you don’t have to provide new fencing for your entire ranch to get the job done. Since calves are the primary target and easy food source for coyotes, a calving pasture can be an effective answer.

Keeping Calves Together and Highly Protected Helps

Higher quality fencing that blocks coyote access to the calving area will at least force them to try to find a way around, and electrifying the fence will discourage them further. Once the calves and their mothers are ready for the regular pasture, you can let them roam and take care of themselves.

Explore Genetics As a Predator Solution

Some breeds of cattle are less mobile when they are first born, making better targets for predators. Cows with longer gestation periods also can give birth to larger, more awkward calves and have difficulty protecting them after challenging births. By choosing genetic lines that produce more protective mothers and nimble calves, you can help prevent natural selection from being a factor in predators’ access to your herd.

Herd Management Strategies Help

Experts note that crossbreeding for more vigorous calves and increased maternal instincts in cows can help increase survival rates. Even so, make sure that calves are raised away from brush and other places where predators can hide and make an approach. Coyotes are generally born from early spring until about May, and as they are raised during the summer, your calves will make ideal training targets, so this is a critical time to protect them, especially by using effective deterrent methods.

Use Technology: Convince Coyotes That Their Own Enemies Got There First

There’s a kind of electronic scarecrow available now that’s finding all sorts of jobs around the ranch and farm. It recreates that eerie look of animal eyes flashing in the nighttime, and as coyotes approach your precious newborns, they see that they’re not alone and back off. This gear has had great results in protecting crops, beehives, other livestock and even housing from animal encroachment with little or no maintenance. It just sits in a strategic spot, charging its battery during the daytime and starting to show its “eyes” as dusk arrives and on through the night. It doesn’t need battery changes or a power line to operate so it can be positioned anywhere on your land where coyotes tend to approach as well as near your calves and other animals. Nite Guard is a premium provider of these ingenious lights.

Nite Guard Provides Deterrent Lights And Helpful Advice

Pretty much everyone who puts these lights to work sees some degree of results, but a talk with the Nite Guard experts can make a big difference, too. They can help identify the kinds of predators you’re dealing with based on scat and other clues, tell you a bit about their nocturnal habits and where the lights should be placed, and help with any other elements of your protective strategy.

We’re proud of Nite Guard and glad to help you put it to good use. Ask about other uses such as around chicken coops, beehives, gardens and even your house. Since it’s affordable and effective with little maintenance to keep it going, many people use it as a first strategy for solving predator problems, and often it’s enough. Call us at 1-800-328-6647 or send us an email.

Categories: Coyote