Bells and Collars for Sheep and Goats
Benefits of Bells...
We like the sound of bells echoing across the pastures as the animals graze. We suspect you too will find this to be uniquely pleasant. In addition to pleasant tones, bells on grazing animals have practical purposes:
- To facilitate locating the herd or flock. Listening for the sound of the bells saves time tracking them down.
- To provide assurance that they are still where they should be.
- To give warning of charging rams/bucks.
- To alert you if the herd or flock is startled because the sound is, obviously, different.
- Users report that bells deter predators.
- How do they do this? The sound of a bell is foreign to coyotes. It makes them wary. When coyotes or wolves approach, the increased sound from alarmed bell-wearing animals will notify guard dogs and shepherds that something is amiss.
- Do we only rely on bells to deter predators? No—we also use guard dogs and miles of electrified fences.
Pete Arambel, co-owner of The Shepherd magazine runs a flock of 6000 head in Wyoming. He too uses bells—about 1 per every 25 ewes. Pete says that bells go on ewes after shearing.
Ewes new to bells dance around a little bit but eventually become accustomed to them.
Perks? When grazing forested areas it’s easier to find sheep with bells than binoculars.
Guardian dogs become accustomed to normal bell tones. When a different sound is heard—such as a ewe being threatened by a predator—it causes the dogs to immediately investigate.
Gordon Shelangoski (a Premier consultant) uses bells on his flock as well. He noted that “anything maintenance-free that makes a predator nervous is worth doing.”
If a bell is not “dinging”—check the following:
- Broken clapper attachments.
- A “stuck” clapper.
- A bell that is full of mud or grass.
How tight should the bell’s collar be?
You should be able to slide your hand under the collar. Too loose and the collar may come off.