If you’re a cattle owner, you know how important it is to protect your herd. Livestock loss is a major issue to ranches all over Florida, especially calf loss. According to the USDA’s 2015 report on livestock loss, ranches suffered a loss of 4% of their calves, with 25% of those losses due to predation. Another study from 2016-2019 showed a higher loss of calves at 13%, with 3% of those losses due to predation. In today’s blog, we’ll explore some methods from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences blog that you can use to identify predation loss in your cattle, and therefore work to mitigate it and protect your herd. Visit our blog for more on herd raising

Why is predation identification important? When you see a loss to your herd, it’s important to properly identify it for a number of reasons. First, you must rule out infection or stillbirth. Birthing difficulties can be reported to a veterinarian for monitoring, and infections should be researched to ensure it doesn’t spread to the rest of the herd. If you discover it is a predator, identifying the species can help you prevent further losses from the herd by putting preventative measures in place, as well as providing accurate information when reported to local agencies and neighbors.

What predators are in the area? Some common predators to cattle in Florida include bobcats, Florida panthers, coyotes, snakes, black bears, and alligators.

How do you properly identify the site? When looking at the site of a loss, search for predator signs like scat and paw prints, as these can help you easily identify the cause. Coyote and dog predators will typically attack the head and rear areas, bears the back, and big cats the upper and lower neck and throat. Are there signs of a struggle? These are all good clues to identifying the predator. 

To learn more about what we do at Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch, give us a visit by taking one of our agritours. We look forward to seeing you and working together to help protect our community and our cattle from unnecessary predator loss.