Saturday, August 29, 2009

Coyotes 5, Sheep 0

Now for some sad news... we have been having predator attacks on our sheep this past week. It started last weekend when I was in Florida to judge the Cotee River Cat Show. Bob called to say that when he counted the sheep we seemed to be missing 3 or 4.

He had walked the pasture but hoped that they had gotten into the neighbor's pasture and weren't ready to come home yet. Most noticably missing were the "twins," our youngest lambs. I had promised them to a young man who was going to show them in 4-H.

By the time I got home Sunday night, he still hadn't located them, so we planned to call around the neighborhood on Monday. Monday evening we took an inventory and realized that the twins' mom was in the flock and was very depressed and thin. Another young ram lamb was also missing. We assumed the worst and I wrote the dreaded email to the potential buyers.

Tuesday they called and offered to search some more since we still had not found any signs of "foul play". While we were at work, they came over and looked through the pasture again. This time they found one of our ewe lambs, mostly eaten. We had been penning the sheep up at night so we didn't know when she was actually killed.

Wednesday we stayed home and wormed all the sheep and tagged those that hadn't been for better identification. Thursday we turned them out during the day with all four llamas, hoping that would be enough protection. That evening we were missing another! Bob drove around the pasture and found one of our two year old ewes was partially eaten near our stock pond. Bob went into town to buy a shotgun and watched for the predators to return to the body. No luck, so far. We still don't know what is doing the killing during the day. We thought maybe a pack of dogs, but friends say mother coyotes teach their pups in the daytime so we are expecting they are the culprits.

We've since gathered that llamas don't work well together as sheep protectors. Only singles should be used. We have the sheep all locked in the pens at the barn now until we come up with a solution. We aren't even letting our mini filly out for fear they may be hungry enough to attack her.

We are open to any suggestions!

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