February 09, 2009

Coyote Howls and Guardian Angels

This is a recording of the coyotes yipping and howling at dusk on our farm. This is an every day occurrence at night and especially at dusk on our farm. Their yips and howls are actually quite loud and near by, but for some reason my camera did not record them nearly as loud as they actually were while standing on my back porch. So turn the volume way up. The barking that can be heard over the coyotes on the video is our livestock guardian dogs hard at work doing their job of warning the coyotes away from the goat pastures.

According to Davidson College, "Coyotes have at least three different types of vocalizations used in various situations. The first call is lone howling done by a single coyote. Lone howling lasts a long period of time and has a higher pitch compared to the other types of calls. This call is thought to be a type of communication by lost or separated members of a pack. The second type of vocalization is group howling. This type of call is characterized by several coyotes each giving a lone howl at the same time. The third type of vocalization is the group-yip howl. The group-yip howl is identified by patterned high intensity yips and howls performed by multiple coyotes in a group. Both the group howling and group-yip howling appear to serve the same functions. One function is to advertise the location of the group’s territory and the second is to coordinate group hunting strategies. By announcing the general area of a coyote pack’s territory they can reduce the risk of encountering another pack of coyotes which may result in a violent and costly fight.


Coyotes are always going to be a challenge for people like me that raise goats, sheep or other livestock but I have given myself an advantage over the predators by putting some real life guardian angels on the farm's payroll. These protectors of the herd work for just food, board and the occasional bonus pat on the head. Meet the hardest working and most important animals on the farm, our Great Pyrenees dogs.

This is Dreyfus...aka "The Babysitter", because well, he usually ends up babysitting the baby goats. He is amazingly tolerant of bouncy baby goats jumping on him while he tries to nap, but he is all business when it comes to patrolling the fence and keeping coyotes and other predators away from his charges and his territory.

This is his backup, meet the ever watchful mother and daughter team that is Abby and Bayla. Abby is the mom and the smaller one sitting down in this picture. Even though Abby is the smallest of our livestock guardian dogs at 90 lbs...this "little" girl is all heart, she doesn't back down from anything or anyone but she also has a soft side for any farm baby. She loves the baby goats, watching over them from birth and making sure all baby goat faces and bottoms are clean on this farm.

Bayla is an Abby & Dreyfus daughter and the dog that is standing up in this picture. Bayla was born and raised on our farm. She was born with lots of great natural guardian instinct from her parents and what she wasn't born with she learned from her mother and father in the goat pasture. I have watched her grow from a fat little puppy into a truly great guardian I can trust the very lives of our goats too.

Coyote picture courtesy of Cal Poly land. edu


Hot Belly Mama said...

We thought about getting llamas after hearing that the make GREAT guard animals. Hope your flock will be protected!

Anonymous said...

How scary but good thing for your LGD's!

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

so your pastures are fenced? and your dogs run up and down the fence line warning the coyotes?
Listening to those coyotes every night, I'd be fretting something awful. Have you ever lost an animal to coyotes or predators?

Thank you for the soap advice. Last night I threw out the Friday batch and we'll see how the Sunday batch turns out. How long does it usually take to get to trace with your recipe that I used (except I substituted water over goats milk). Mike helped me to carefully measure out the grams. I'm actually thinking I didn't get to trace, where I could see a drop hold on top. geez, these are expensive mistakes.

Leslie Moore said...

I love dogs and goats, so I'm thrilled to have discovered your blog. Wonderful stories about your guardian angels. I'll look forward to reading your previous postings and new ones to come.

Carolyn said...

Such cute doggies...and useful too.

Someday I hope to have enough goats to need a guard dog.

I can't wait to make goat's milk soap...I won't be afraid to use lard :). I got two bars from the lady who sold me my goats and I have savored every shower and bath.

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

Hot Belly Mama - If you do get a llama as a guardian, make sure you get a female or castrated male. We had an intact male llama and had problems with him acting in appropriate with the goats & stressing them out that we never would have had with a female or fixed male llama.

Amy - Thanks! I think you need to post some more pictures of your Pyrs!

Joanna- Yes, our goat pastures are fenced with electric fence. It is a deterrent but certainly not predator proof so we depend a great deal on our guardian dogs to protect our goats. No, I am proud to say we have not lost a single goat to predators since we have had our Great Pyrenees dogs in with them. It usually does not take too long with a stick blender. I saw in your blog picture that you were using a mixer/beater? I have never tried that so I don't know if that would make a difference over using a stick blender.

Leslie - Thank you Leslie, I really appreciate your kind comments.

KathyB. said...

Beautiful livestock guardian dogs ! Those wiley coyotes are even a bit admirable when you think of how well they survive in the midst of urban America, but I don't like them at my place feasting on lamb.

Electric fencing seems to have helped here.....

Esther Garvi said...

Live guardians are the best! A friend of mine in Sweden had one of those, although she was just a personal pet. What a lady she was! Not to be messed with. It's so cool with animals that live for what they do, and LOVE doing it. Like a horse, that just enjoys bringing you places. We humans don't always understand how lucky we are and what potential there is out there in the animal world... :-)

Warm greetings from Africa!

Leslie Moore said...

We once had sheep and a goat (I was in heaven!) and I got a donkey to guard them -- Abijah. He did a wonderful job and was quite a character, too!

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your words of encouragement. I may be asking for pictures of your beautiful goats to add to my farm animal collection of pen-and-ink and woodblock art.

Nancy M. said...

Your guard dogs are beautiful! I think I need to look at getting me some like that.

Becky said...

I hate those night time sounds.But I do love those dogs of yours. Big strong lovable lumps of fluff.

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

Carolyn - Thank you!

KathyB - Thank you! Yes, we certainly can't hold it against the coyote. He is just looking for a meal to feed himself and his family. That is one of the reasons I like livestock guardian animals, they are an environmentally friendly way of dealing with predators, since they warn them away and only confront as a last resort if some coyote or bobcat is foolish enough still try to get in the pasture.

LGDs much better and more effective alternative to poison, traps etc. This is the reason the Cheetah conservation people give farmers in Africa LGDs, it actually saves the Cheetah's lives because with the dogs the farmer's no longer have to shoot the cats.

Esther - Thank you, I loved your comment. Aren't animals great? :)

Leslie- Thank you! Donkeys are great, such characters, I have never owned one but I always kind of thought it would be nice to have one around the farm. Sure, ask away anytime, I think it would be really neat to see one of my animals in a beautiful piece of artwork on your blog.

Nancy M - Thank you and thank you for visiting my blog!

Becky - Thank you!

Mom L said...

Did you take that amazing photo of the coyote? I actually enjoyed hearing the coyote "music", but then I'm a city apt. dweller so it's a novelty for me. I might not be so pleased if I had a farm to worry over! Your pyrs are beautiful - I have yet to see one in person, so am always glad to see the photos. Such amazing dogs!

Nancy in Atlanta

DayPhoto said...

We have those nasty critters, so far we have not had any real problems with them (knock on wood). Your Angel dogs are beautiful.

We also have lots, and lots of Fox. So every evening the chickens and cats and little things are put away in safe secure houses.


Diane L. Dodd said...

first, love your new blog heading photo!
we heard coyotes at night last fall but haven't heard any in awhile- i actually saw one and it was smaller than i had imagined. i didn't know that about their different types of howels.
your dogs are good guardian angels and so beautiful! love that dreyfus.

Flartus said...

I, too, found the coyote yipping lovely...and kind of exotic. And I would love to see those fluffy goat lovers in person! I posted a pic on my blog from a local goat farm; I think they may have pyrs also, or at least a mix.

Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill said...

Good information. Now I know what I have been hearing. For the most part I hear the latter of the sounds that the coyotes make (yipping, and sometimes sounds like barking).

Our neighbor has lost livestock to coyotes, thankfully we never have. I know they are out there, and I also know Caleb (our LGD), is a big help in warding them off. Caleb is a pyr/mareema/anatolian mix. We get tired of him barking at nothing, but I know the goats are much more safe.

Thanks for the great article, Jennifer.

Christy said...

We have lots of coyotes here. I hear them almost every night! It scares me. I think we are going to get 2 female llamas this weekend to be guards once we get our goats.

JLB said...

I like listening to them howl, as long as they're far enough away from here that I don't have to worry. We have three dogs now so getting a gaurd dog as well is out of the question right now. Our heeler does thankfully throw a bloody fit when coyotes get too close though. (skunks, hawks, eagles, coons and everything else get ignored) After being surrounded by them though I look for my gun everytime I see one now.

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

Your dogs are so cool! I'd be worried the coyotes would get to them! Our dog is only 42 lbs., your 90 lb. one is more than twice its size! That is huge!

Congrats on your SITS day! Enjoyed your blog!