I’m starting a new category today, Reviews, to lay out some of the successes and failures of miscellaneous farm products that we’ve tried over the years. I’ll eventually tackle electric fence and water equipment, but here I’ll address predator deterrents.
When the owls and coyotes first started to be a problem with our pastured poultry operations, we happened across Dan of Wooden Bridge Farm at a PACSAC meeting. He had had some similar problems, and recommended the Nite Guard predator light to us.
We purchased 4 lights, set them up on a mobile post so we can vary the level of protection provided to our different paddocks, and prepared to thumb our noses at the bloodthirsty baddies out there.
Sadly, that was not to be. It turns out that the lesson we learned the hard way is that the lights are very effective against migratory predators, but not resident, year-round ones. That’s a little problematic in the land of Great Horned Owls, Barn Owls, and Coyotes (all resident, non-migratory species). I think it also explains why Dan had more success than we did, since he’s in Skamokowa, a delta-and-wetland environment that is going to see lots of seasonal variation in both predator and prey species.
When we got out of the chicken game, we loaned the lights to our friend Chenin, who had pastured laying hens, and a severe Great Horned Owl problem. Same story as ours, the Owl laughed off the little LEDs and feasted regularly throughout the winter. She’s also in a more upland site like we are, as opposed to a more wetland environment.
When we talked to the Nite Guard folks, they were skeptical that we were having these problems. Ironic, since I study migratory birds for a living. When we laid out the issues and situation, only then did they say that the lights only work on migratory aerial predators, and not resident ones. No where on the website do they mention this. An oversight that could have helped us a lot.
In Nite Guard’s defense, when we finally communicated our situation, and returned the lights, their honoring of the money back guarantee was swift. The units were compact and well made, with a solar cell and good battery powering the unit. The only downside on the design is there was no access to the battery compartment, so when it died, you were out the whole ~$30. We didn’t have them long enough to get to that, though.
The take home message on this one…know your predators.
It looks like Google strikes again…we received a letter from Nite Guard. Read it here
I’d still stand by my initial assessments…despite what they say in the letter, Owls weren’t coming in from higher than the lights (which were at ~10′), since there weren’t many perches up high. One particular Barn Owl was raiding the broilers from the downhill side, since we found an occasional feather stuck on the house there.
All that said, I still greatly respect the company…their money back guarantee is ironclad, and the product seems to deter predators at many other locations.
I’ve received replacement lights from them, and will give them to a local farm to test them out….more to come!