In 2005, Tom Karr saw black vultures hanging around his cattle farm, in Meigs County, Ohio, for the first time. That same year, he lost 11 calves to vultures during the calving season.
“I didn’t know much about them then, but I’ve learned a lot about them since,” Karr, board president for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, told Farm and Dairy in a phone interview.
Now, 17 years later, he regularly sees them on his farm, and all over the nearby town of Pomeroy. They perch on houses, dumpsters, cliffs and trees, and intermingle with turkey vultures. But unlike turkey vultures, they also attack live animals. In recent years, Karr has downsized from about 300 brood cows to 150 and cut back on fall calving, partly due to issues with the vultures. Continue reading →
Few animals elicit such strong, and opposing, emotions as the coyote. But love ‘em or hate ‘em, after decades of range expansion across the United States, coyotes are an established predator throughout Ohio. So, the question we can all agree on is: How do we minimize potential conflicts with coyotes in this state? And to answer that question, we need data.
Livestock production is a cultural and economic staple in Ohio but it differs in many ways from production in the western US, where most of the coyote research has been done. Although Ohio produces more sheep and lambs than any other state east of the Mississippi River, the average flock size is 36 head, which means the loss of even a single animal exacts a disproportionate financial toll from local operators. Additionally, ecosystems in the Midwest are vastly different than those in the west. For any management strategy to effectively protect against coyote predation in Ohio, we need to know more about Ohio coyotes. Continue reading →
With winter upon us, and lambing and kidding season near, I’m sure that most shepherds and producers are making their last minute preparations eagerly awaiting for the arrival of their next lamb or kid crop. For me, winter also comes with more time spent indoors researching ways to improve the American sheep industry. It’s no secrete that producers from across the nation face production issues associated with predation. For us in the eastern United States, coyotes rank amongst the top predators. According to the 2020 USDA Sheep Death Loss Report, approximately 600,000 sheep and lambs were lost in 2019 nationwide, with 32.6% of adult sheep and 40.1% of lambs lost due to predation. As markets for small ruminant products continue to grow, we must find strategies to reduce these losses. As you visit with family, friends, and fellow producers over the holiday season, you may discuss ways to dampen these statics. For those interested in taking matters into their own hands, take a look at this series of coyote trapping videos from Kansas State University Research and Extension.
(Image Source: USDA National Wildlife Research Center)
Livestock losses are an unfortunate reality of ranching and the use of traps and snares is a common way to attempt to reduce predator-livestock conflict. However, one USDA study (Shivik et al. 2003) noted that for many types of predators, there is a paradoxical relationship between the number of predators removed and the number of livestock killed. Surprisingly, these researchers found that as more predators were removed, more livestock were killed.
Similarly, in a 14-year USDA study at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center (Conner et al. 1998), researchers found that trapping of coyotes did not reduce sheep losses. In fact, scientists found that as trappers worked more hours, more lambs were killed by predators. The unexpected results in these studies can be explained by Continue reading →
When coyote predation becomes a problem for a livestock operation, it can be a major issue that requires extensive measures to address. For this reason, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife proposal to designated coyotes as furbearers generated concerns from Ohio’s agriculture and hunters and trappers.
“There are a fair amount of hunters that don’t agree with it,” said Mike Rex, who sits on the Ohio Wildlife Council. “They see coyotes as vermin and not a furbearing animal like a fox, and they don’t think there should be any additional regulation.”
With the furbearer designation, coyote trapping by any person (including landowners) would be limited Continue reading →
Tommy Springer, Wildlife Specialist, Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District
When the Ohio Division of Wildlife released its proposed changes to the 2020-2021 hunting and trapping regulations, probably no proposal received more attention than the one to clarify the classification of coyotes as a furbearer and include them in the regulated trapping season along with other furbearers such as raccoon and fox (OAC 1501:31-15-09). Under current regulations, coyotes can be hunted and trapped year-round. This new proposal would only affect the trapping portion. Hunting will remain open all year with no bag limit.
As this proposal clears up the legal language that coyotes are considered furbearers, in addition to having an annual hunting license, this proposal requires hunters and trappers to also purchase the fur taker permit that is required to hunt or trap furbearers. Currently, hunters and trappers targeting coyotes are Continue reading →
In our latest Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson highlight a unique ruminants species (pseudo ruminant that is) that can be used in any livestock operation as a means to control for predators. As Ohio legislation begins to reassess the status of the coyote in terms of being a fur-bearing animal and as a result producers may be limited in how they may be able to trap these predators, producers may be forced to find alternative means to manage this controversial wildlife livestock interaction. Continue reading →
Small ruminant producers are very familiar with “the three P’s” – Predators. Pathogens. Parasites. The three P’s account for most livestock losses on-farm. In order to be successful, producers need to tailor their management practices to minimize the impacts of predators, pathogens, and parasites.
That was the main focus of Session #3 of Southeast Ohio Sheep & Goat School on May 10 at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (EARS). Presenters from OSU Extension and USDA Wildlife Services shared information about the environments of the three P’s, how they thrive, ways to deter them, and how to adjust management strategies when issues arise. Continue reading →
(Image Source: Morning Ag Clips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Flickr/Creative Commons)
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal scientists are trying to decide if it’s time to let the big dogs out.
Nearly 120 dogs from three large breeds perfected over centuries in Europe and Asia to be gentle around sheep and children but vicious when confronting wolves recently underwent a study to see how they’d react to their old nemesis on a new continent. Continue reading →
Stan Smith, OSU Extension Program Assistant, Fairfield County
Over the better part of at least the past 15 years, Ohio livestock producers have increasingly experienced problems with black vultures. Unlike its red headed cousin the turkey vulture that feeds only on the carcasses of dead animals, black vultures are an aggressive bird that will, on occasion, kill other animals for food. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for a black vulture to attack a cow or ewe in the pasture while in labor in an effort to prey on the newly-born offspring even while Continue reading →
Joy Aufderhaar, OSU Extension, Agriculture Program Assistant, Shelby County
After 30 years of our family raising market sheep, this past April we had a first… our ewes and lambs were attacked by dogs. We have had many close calls with coyotes and stray dogs, but never an actual attack. A family friend witnessed the attack and contacted my husband. After receiving the call and knowing my husband would arrive at the scene before I would, I began to worry about his comment, Continue reading →