Certified organic since 1990.

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A Predator Friendly Farm?

  /  A Predator Friendly Farm?

Predators can present major problems for livestock producers.  Although I have no statistics to prove it, predators may be the major reason for livestock losses in the neighbourhood.

On First Nature Farms, we not only have cows that can wander through miles of wilderness but we also raise bison, pigs (bears love pork), turkeys (coyote dinner) and chickens (raven treats). Our next door neighbour lost 9 calves a couple summers back. Another neighbour just two miles away had 17 pigs killed by a grizzly bear. Losses of sheep and lambs in the area are common.  Even people who live close to town have had coyotes come and steal their dogs.

One can start to wonder how it is even possible for someone so far away from settlement, living right next to the vast wilderness of BC, to raise livestock on in the forests and open pasture. I have often wondered the same thing.  I’ve raised livestock on pasture since the 1980’s but the number of predator kills and injuries have been minimal.  We’ve had the occasional turkey taken by coyotes but none for years.  For at least 2 years, all the calves that went out to pasture in the spring returned in the fall.

The ravens have it figured how to nab a chicken but lately, they don’t really seem to bother them. I had a friend who had to get out of the pig business because of coyote predation. I can see tracks that coyotes have made, right by the pigs and turkeys. Neighbours used to call “I saw a coyote in your pasture!” but I wasn’t worried.


For some reason, the predators seem to leave us alone.  In all the years I’ve been farming, I have never allowed the use of poison bait (suggested by the Government of Alberta), nor allowed hunters to kill or trap any predators.  I myself have never killed a coyote or any other predator.
Why? Honestly I don’t know.  Maybe the coyotes remember Joe the guard donkey from years ago.  Maybe “Jack” the Irish Wolfhound who mostly patroled the front of the deck.  Maybe the “electric turkey” I hooked to the fence years ago.  Maybe there is a balance that still exists between predator and their natural prey.

I like to think of us as a predatory friendly farm. We definitely have had some issues in the past. Problem predators have been black bears and coyotes. For some people it may be dogs. When the first signs of trouble appear I immediately set up an electric lesson. Then I find a dead chicken or other animal, ideally one that had been killed and tie electric wire around the body knotting it at the feet. I then hang the chicken from an insulator suspended from a tripod, the taller the better. I tie a knot there to keep the bird from touching the ground. A wet area along the predator trail is ideal. I then run the electric wire to the electric fence. When the predator sniffs that chicken with thoughts of dinner in mind….POW! The shock lasts for 3/10,000 of a second and the message suddenly becomes “Stay away from Chickens!” The predators also teach the next generation of the dangers of chicken.

If anyone is reading this who is having problems with predators, feel free to contact me.
Maybe I can help.