Whether you raise goats or cattle or even just chickens you likely have a predator problem. Anything from neighborhood dogs to a random fox can pose a threat to your food production animals. Confined animals, such as chickens, are particularly tempting to a predator because they have no where to run.
Herd dogs are a common way dealing with potential threats to your herd. Unfortunately, they can become threats themselves. You have a short window to teach a puppy what animals are to be protected and not eaten. This is great if your farm is fully established and you don’t plan on bringing in any new species, but if it’s not then your herd dog can suddenly become your problem predator.
A better option for controlling predators on a growing farm is to get donkeys. Donkeys are friendly animals in general, but they have proven to be quite aggressive towards predators. They will eat feed, but the survival of your herd may be worth it.
Llamas are chosen as herd guardians for the same reasons that donkeys are. They are generally friendly animals, but they will protect the herd against predators at all costs. Their primary cost is just in their upkeep as there isn’t a lot you can do with a llama.
Dogs are still the most prevalent herd guardians because of their teeth. If confronted with a predator the herd dogs will fight and unlike donkeys and llamas they will stand a fighting chance of surviving the encounter. Most good herd dogs are of a larger breed. These dogs should be confused with the smaller breeds like collies whose purpose is more to herd the animals in at night rather than protect them from an actual predator.
Good fencing will also do a lot to keep predators away from your herd. A single line of electric wire on the outside of the primary fence can serve as a good deterrent to predators. There are even farmers who have bought motion activated radios whose sound scares off predators before they even get close to their livestock. The radios also serve as an alarm to the farmers that something is out there that shouldn’t be and give them time to grab a weapon before heading out to check on their stock.
It is always wise to confine herd animals to the barn at night if the area is known for predators. The barn itself will act as a deterrent. Other methods include aversive scent markers for territorial predators like coyotes and wolves. Solar flares set up around the perimeter of the fence that are motion activated can help by scaring away the animal, but they can become accustomed to this deterrent over time. It’s not a long-term solution. Herd owners have to come up with a combination of predator protection and deterrents that fit for them because every situation is unique.