Control of Predators and pests on the Farm
There are many predators on the farm, usually those who most would not consider a threat at all. On the farm we don't kill a predator unless it is a threat to our livestock or livelihood. Unfortunately, this results in execution more often than not. Many city dwellers don't understand that control of species is absolutely necessary to survival as there are species that will take over and destroy all else. We can not simply let things run uncontrolled as invasive species has shown throughout history.
- Domestic Dogs - Domestic Dogs, so-called pets, illegally allowed to run loose are the most dangerous threats to our livestock. Domestic dogs chase just about any animal including cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. This often results in severely injured livestock as in the process as they run through fences etc. Domestic dogs will also corner and kill livestock given the opportunity despite the fact that they usually aren't hungry. Dog owners are 100% responsible for all damages to livestock caused by their dog.
Despite the fact that Tennessee law prohibits it (T.C.A. 44-8-408), irresponsible pet owners all to often simply let their dogs run free. When so called "pets" are allowed to run free, they often pack up with other neighborhood dogs and then wander around chasing livestock and other wildlife. When dogs stray onto the farm, sometimes we shoot near them to scare them off which is usually effective, and many times they will not return. If we see dogs chasing livestock we shoot to kill them on the spot and bury them promptly. The dog is dead because of its irresponsible and negligent human owner. It is these humans who are the real problem.
- Coyotes - When we first began to farm, we strongly defended the Coyotes as we didn't think they would bother our cattle, then one day we came home to find three of them eating one of our young cows that they had just killed, and which had a 12-week old baby (the baby is doing fine). Our attitude abruptly changed. The population of Coyotes had grown significantly, and they were hungry. Coyotes are invasive to Tennessee and most of North America as they were only native to the desert southwest. They have no predators, and left uncontrolled, multiply quickly. Coyotes are very hard to hunt as they are smart and attentive to their surroundings. They are a serious threat to all of our livestock and will kill without warning. There are many videos on youtube of coyotes taking down adult deer. We actively hunt coyotes. See also, Coyotes in Tennessee, and Coyote control for farmers.
- Racoons - Racoons are cute, but very destructive on the farm. They will destroy a whole corn crop in a single night as well as kill several chickens in a single night usually wasting much of what they kill. We actively trap and dispose of racoons when activity of them has been indicated.
- Opossums - Opossums are oportunistic foragers of just about anything edible which can be chickens, eggs or grains. A single Opossum will kill several baby chicks in a single night, and eat several eggs thoroughly contaminating nests which then must be cleaned entirely. We have to control the Opossum population near the farm.
- Snakes - We never kill snakes unless we find them near the chicken house. Once a snake becomes wise that chickens or eggs may exist, they will always remember where they found them, and return time after time. If we see a snake near the chicken house, we have no choice but to kill it.
- Domestic Cats - If we see wild cats such as the occasional Bobcat, or the occasional domestic cat straying through, we don't bother them. However irresponsible people let their domestic cats run wild without neutering and without any sense of responsibility, as a result they breed freely and over-populate. To us, uncontrolled and/or wild domestic cats are a pest and a nuisance, so if we see more than the occasional stray, we have no choice but to take action.
- Skunks - Though Skunks are often considered a pest or a predator, we have found that with minor control, skunks do far more good than not. Skunks love bees, so we keep the bee hives 16-inches off the ground (two concrete blocks high), and then the skunks can't reach them. Skunks like chicken, so we have an electric wire just 4-inches off the ground around the chicken compound which keeps skunks, racoons, opossums and coyotes away from the chickens for the most part; on occasion however a predator does get through. Skunks keep grubs and bees nesting in the ground cleaned up. We welcome skunks on the farm.
- Foxes - Though we have foxes, and they prey on chickens aggressively, we haven't had a problem with them due to the eletric fence around the chicken compound. Foxes cause no other apparent problem therefore we simply leave them alone.
- Groundhogs - Groundhogs are cute, and we don't like to harm them, however they are bad for digging holes in fields that result in broken legs of livestock. If we can't chase off groundhogs, we have to kill them.
- Rodents - Rodents are not much of a problem. We have plenty of hawks, snakes and other predators that keep the rodent population in check for the most part. In the barn, we put out poison in obscure locations which keeps the rodents out. Once in a while, a rat will tend to move in near the pigs, but if we shoot it promptly, the problem disappears.