Management Alternatives

Management Alternatives for Minimizing Livestock Losses

by Dale Rollins

The coyote is as much a part of the Texas landscape as the familiar mesquite tree. Like the mesquite, the coyote is locally abundant, well-established, adaptable, and resilient to fires aimed at its control. Up to a point, both the mesquite and the coyote are compatible with most livestock ranching, but when the population of either species becomes too dense, livestock producers can suffer.

Livestock losses to predators, primarily coyotes, can and do occur statewide, but the sheep and goat industry suffers the greatest impact. In 1988, the loss of sheep and goats to predators in Texas was about $12 million. Predation is the number-one cause of death to sheep and goats in the Edwards Plateau region. The rangelands of other areas of Texas are well suited for sheep and goat production, but ineffective means of preventing predatory losses preclude large-scale grazing by sheep and/or goats. Additional losses occur in the cattle, poultry, swine, and melon industries.

Minimizing livestock losses to coyote predation requires:

  • understanding the coyote’s ways,
  • learning to interpret coyote sign and recognize coyote kills,
  • reducing the exposure of susceptible livestock,
  • learning how to control problem coyotes, and
  • developing a plan of action before the problem reaches a crisis level.

The objective of this publication is to increase your awareness of these required skills and, in doing so, to help minimize your livestock losses to coyotes.