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Winter can bring about additional challenges with predators. In this first part, we will focus on recognizing damage caused by predators.

Identifying predator damage in the winter can be challenging due to the snow covering tracks and hiding evidence of attacks on livestock. High school students studying agriculture may learn how to recognize signs of predator activity and implement strategies to protect their animals during the winter months.

Dr. David Fernandez, a livestock specialist with the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff's Cooperative Extension Program, warned farmers and ranchers to expect increased problems with predators as winter draws near. As many birds fly southward and as reptiles, amphibians, and rodents burrow beneath the surface or under deep snow, it becomes more difficult to find prey. Livestock can easily become prey, especially if they are kept on smaller acres.

When most livestock producers consider predators, they typically think of coyotes. Coyotes are effective hunters because they usually bring their prey to death. They consume the majority of their kills by biting the neck. It's possible to yank the digestive tract out of the carcass and leave it behind.

Dogs can also pose serious risks to livestock, according to Dr. Fernandez. Dogs are often left loose, and it is possible for a single dog, a pack of dogs, or both to attack and kill cattle. Although they rarely target the head and neck, dogs typically target the flanks, abdomen, and legs of animals. Because they are ineffective predators, they frequently hurt or maim cattle rather than killing them.

He noted that lips, noses, and ears are frequently severely mauled. Lost productivity and a hefty veterinary expenditure are the outcomes. Mauled animals frequently pass away despite receiving a lot of money and attention.

Dogs frequently thrill kill rather than consume their victim. According to Dr. Fernandez, 20 to 25 ewes can be killed in a matter of hours by one or two dogs. Small canines, 10 pounds or less, are capable of bothering and hurting animals.

While they rarely attack adult sheep or goats, bobcats have been known to steal young lambs and kids. Typically, bobcats strike from above, puncturing the victim's head or neck with their teeth. Bobcats prefer to eat from their hindquarters, leaving their forequarters uneaten.

Although fewer farmers take feral hogs into account, livestock losses are rising due to their growing numbers in Arkansas and other places. Pigs don't leave much behind. According to Dr. Fernandez, their trails indicate that they were accountable.

Similar to feral hogs, black bears are growing in number and posing a threat to livestock farmers. Bears can shatter your neck with a slap or bite. Carcasses are frequently severely ripped and mangled. Liver, hearts, and urine are consumed, and the animal's intestines are frequently dispersed across the scene of the slaughter.

Remember the assailants from the air, he said. As they migrate north to nesting areas later in the year, and south for the winter, hawks, owls, crows, and eagles look for prey. They can all kill or maim small or young animals. There might only be the sheep and goats' rumen and skins remaining.

Dr. David Fernandez of UAPB alerts farmers and ranchers to the possibility of an increase in predator issues as winter draws near. Due to a scarcity of prey, animals such as cattle are targeted by coyotes, dogs, bobcats, feral hogs, black bears, and even raptors like eagles and hawks. Dogs and coyotes frequently attack the flanks and neck, while bobcats hunt young animals. Bears and feral hogs can cause more damage and leave less trace. For efficient management and a decrease in livestock losses, it is essential to identify these predators. #FarmingIntheWinter #LivestockSafeguarding

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