Researchers take aim at reducing losses to livestock predation

Research: News Roundup from the November 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Manitoba researchers are looking for beef producers interested in trying different strategies to reduce predation losses.

The study will look at methods to gauge predation risk on a producer’s operation while also examining ways to monitor and deter predators. Melanie Dubois, senior riparian and biodiversity biologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, says that the methods to be used in the study have proven successful elsewhere.

One method Dubois wants to test in Manitoba involves electric fencing with flags strung along the fence.The flags are also electrified and set a foot apart. Another method is a so-called “scary man,” which is an agricultural version of the flappy guy often seen outside car dealerships. Other potential methods include screamers and bangers.

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Dubois also plans to try collars, made by Digitanimal in Spain, that monitor a cow’s vital signs and GPS location and send alerts to a cell phone. Dubois wants to place those collars on a few cows in the herd and have producers watch for big spikes in vitals such as heart rate, which could indicate a predator. Producers may not be able to stop an attack, but they may be able to save an animal or at least recover the carcass to prove it was killed by a predator.

Producers who have had predator troubles and are located near watersheds at Riding Mountain, Swan Lake First Nation, the North Shannon (near Morden) and the Main Drain (southeast of Winnipeg) are eligible to participate. Participants will need to share information on costs, attitudes, animal husbandry, mortality management and past losses. They will also need to help with fencing and installing equipment, monitor fences and trail cams weekly and move equipment regularly. Producers would also be expected to participate in demonstration events and interviews.

For more information, contact Melanie Dubois at 204-578-6646 or on her cell at 204-573-3535. She can also be reached via email at [email protected].

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