When raising goats, a major concern for many farmers is keeping their herd safe from predators. While wildlife predators vary based on geographic location, neighborhood dogs are the most common goat aggressor. At the same time, the use of livestock dogs is one method of predator prevention.
Given that domestic dogs are among the most common goat predators, it stands to reason that wild canine species -- think coyotes, wolves and foxes -- will also prey on goats and other livestock. Coyotes are one of the most common livestock predators in the United States. They typically attack with a bite to the throat. Wolves typically prey on larger livestock, but will attack and kill goats if they're available. Foxes will attack goat kids. While wild predators attack for food and typically only kill one animal every few days, a pack of neighborhood dogs can kill as many as 20 to 30 goats in a night, often just for sport.
While the neighbor’s dog may pose a threat to your goats, the neighborhood cat will not. Mountain lions and bobcats, however, will target goats and other livestock when available. Young kids are often the targets of bobcats, while mountain lions more often target larger animals. Mountain lions are capable of killing an entire herd of goats in one evening.
Other predators depend on the location of the goats and their age. In areas with large eagle populations, young kids are vulnerable to attack. Feral hogs also pose a threat to young goat kids. Bears are another common predator. After killing a female goat, or doe, a bear will often eat just the udders.
While neighborhood dogs pose a threat to goats, trained livestock dogs, such as Great Pyrenees, offer herd protection. Other animals providing predator protection include donkeys, llamas and alpacas. In addition to providing animal company to your goats, electric fencing helps to keep wild animals out of goat enclosures. Given that most wild predators hunt at night, bringing the goat herd into a barn at sunset offers protection, especially during the spring breeding season when wild animals are hunting to feed their young and young goats are especially vulnerable.
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images