Protecting lambs from predators

Author: Alana Baker   Date Posted:11 September 2018 

For many of our valued customers, this time of year is lambing season. This means that cute, adorable little lambs will bouncing around paddocks and frolicking with their little lamb friends. To protect these precious creatures, and the livelihood of our farmers, there are some simple steps to take in order to protect them from predators.

The more lambs a ewe has, the more she needs to feed and the more she needs to protect. Ewes can only do so much and predators can be very cunning. Foxes, hawks, wild dogs and wild pigs are just a few of the predators that could harm one's precious livestock. It is true that no one strategy will ensure success but it is always good to do whatever you can to protect young lambs.

Some non-lethal ways to control predators include:

  • Fencing
    • Woven wire or net
    • Vertical no more than 6 inches apart and horizontal no more than 2-4 inches apart
      • No more than 2-4 inches from the ground to the bottom of the fence
    • Electric fencing
    • Proper fencing is costly but losing livestock is far more costly
  • Livestock Guardians
    • 45% of sheep farms engage guardian animals to protect their stock
    • Guard dogs
      • Some known guard dog breeds for livestock include:
        • The Great Pyrenees
        • Komondor
        • Akbash and Anatolian Shepherd
        • Maremma
        • Polish Tatra
        • Tibetan Mastiff
      • Genetics and proper nurture are key in raising the perfect guard dog
      • Ensure to buy a dog or puppy from a reputable breeder to guarantee the dog has the appropriate genetics for guarding
    • Alpacas
      • Two alpacas are always needed in this instance as they need companionship to properly function
      • Their care and feeding is similar to sheep and does not require special diets
      • Alpacas are known to live for a long time and are not prone to accidental death
    • Donkeys
      • Donkeys have a natural herding instinct and are very aggressive towards potential predators
      • They bond very easily to sheep
      • Best suited to flocks of less than 100 ewes
      • Some donkeys can be too aggressive with sheep so ensure you get a jenny and foal as they provide the best protection
  • Property management
    • Predators and foxes especially will mainly attack at night. During the day, it is a good idea to do possible feeding patrol which can include:
      • Disposing of dead livestock to prevent scavenging
      • Shed lambing instead of pasture lambing
      • Shifting ewes to a flatter, less bushy terrain during lambing season will ensure less hiding places for predators
  • Frightening devices
    • Light and sound guards such as the Electronic Guard combines these to ward off predators when they most likely would strike i.e. night time
    • These devices turn off during the day
    • Provide light and sound to give the impression of humans around which can scare off hunters
  • Plastic collars
    • This device covers the animals’ cheek and neck which prevents predators from obtaining a lethal grasp and ultimately giving the lamb a chance to run away and ewe/ guardian animal more of an ability to protect
    • These can be fitted on lambs from a few days old to a year old
    • Quick to install and remove and needs to be replaced every 3 weeks for young lambs
    • This collar patent won several environmental awards from South African investors


Good luck to all our valued farmers this lambing season, from Allingtons Outpost 

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