To avoid predation, livestock husbandry practices prove useful. Treves and Karanth (2003) suggest, “Risk increases where more livestock are present, when sick or pregnant animals roam far from humans or buildings, when carcasses are left exposed, when humans are distant or absent, and when herds roam near cover” (p. 1495). Changing human and livestock behavior can reduce the risk of predation.
Sheep and other small stock, because of their docile nature and inability to defend themselves against predators, require special protections. Human herders and several types of guard animals (llamas, some breeds of dogs, and burros) can be used—especially to guard against coyotes and black bears. Also, sheep and goats can be bonded with cattle, which more aggressively defend themselves. Guard animals are one of the most effective and efficient means to protect stock when animals are in proximity to each other and not diffuse on the landscape.
During lambing and calving season, livestock housed behind barriers such as fences, barns, pens, or sheds are more protected but barriers can be breached and should be coupled with other non-lethal methods. Research on synchronizing the birthing season with that of wild prey species has also proven effective as it swamps predators and diverts them from livestock. Because coyotes (even breeding coyotes) generally do not specialize on sheep, ranchers can minimize their livestock losses by concentrating sheep into small, well-guarded areas.
Scaring devices such as strobe lights, flashing highway lights, firecrackers, sirens, shock collars (for wolves), noisemakers, or flagry (flags tied to ropes or fences) offer yet other alternative. Aversive conditioning methods also provide means to prevent predation, but have limited success with some carnivores because they can learn to avoid chemicals. The removal of livestock carcasses prevents scavengers from habituating to the taste of domestic animals. Using two or more methods together is the most effective, according to a host of authors.
Investment in non-lethal alternatives is not only more thrifty, but more effective. Several common sense animal husbandry practices can prevent predation on livestock.