We have a “small” problem on our farm. I call it a small problem, because the animals themselves aren’t all that large, but the number in which they are here…that’s where the issue lies.
Last year it started as a nuisance. I warned Boss Man that I thought the deer around our house seemed to be getting closer and closer, and seemed to bring their extended families with them. At first, he kind of brushed off my concerns, saying that they had never really bothered the hay before and that they would probably move on shortly.
In fact, they seemed to rather enjoy themselves, and made themselves right at home. As you can see here: (Warning, this is the first video I had ever shot, so please excuse the nausea-inducing zooming and movement…I’ve learned…well, at least a little.)
This year is a whole new ballgame. We have already enrolled the help of our state Game and Fish, who have come up with some interesting tactics. (For instance, a really neat gun-looking, bottle-rocket-on-steroids type thing!)
To explain it from my husband’s point of view, I’ll just give you the run-down of a conversation we had:
“It’s a double-edged sword. If they eat my hay, they won’t starve. They’ll be stronger and healthier, but then they’ll also survive winter and there will be more next year.
“If they don’t eat my hay, they’ll starve. But they’ll be weak and more susceptible to disease, exposing my herd to who-knows-what.”
And this is what we’re talking about for this year:
So, you see, we’re in a tough spot. If we don’t feed the deer, they will get sick and die. But may expose our cows to all sorts of unwanted stuff.
If we feed the deer, they won’t leave, and could still get sick and die. And we will still have exposure to whatever it is they are carrying.
We have already spent money on buying panels to place all around our feed, such as the silage that we cut and the freshly-ground hay. Game and Fish suggest that we space our hay stacks closer together, but our insurance insists that our hay stays further apart. I personally don’t believe that where our hay is located would make much difference to this large number of animals.
The amount of money that has been lost through the hay and feed that has been destroyed is almost nauseating. But the danger to the health of our herd is what has us the most concerned. We are doing all we can to protect our livestock, but it would be nice if there was a better system in place to assist producers that come across these issues.
Trust me, this is something that Boss Man and I will be working on.