Armadillo feed on invertebrates such as insects and earthworms by digging in loose soil. This digging can become a nuisance when it happens in the home landscape. Damage is generally most pronounced in the summer months as lawns are irrigated which makes the soil easier to dig in and brings invertebrates closer to the surface. Armadillo damage is easy to identify as it is noted by multiple shallow holes (usually up to 6”). Also, they will often root similar to pigs, especially in loose mulch.
Armadillo frequently dig and root in lawns or in mulch. Tree squirrel and skunk damage can look similar but is usually smaller in diameter and depth compared to armadillo damage. If damage is excessive and exceeds tolerance, trapping should be considered. While armadillo can be caught farily easilly, after a few episodes of trapping and disposal of the animal you may decide the damage is tolerable after all. If so, consider cutting back on irrigation to lessen the liklihood of future damage.
Armadillos are not protected in Oklahoma and may be trapped all year. Trapping is highly effective using an approximately 12 x 12 x 32-inch live catch trap and funnels to direct the armadillo into the trap. Poultry wire (at least 12” tall) held up with rebar or other rigid stakes works well for the funnels. Do not leave any space between the trap door and the wire or the armadillo is likely to push through the gap. Place the trap either in the area of the landscape where damage is pronounced or where armadillos are entering the landscape (if known).
Irrigate the area immediately around the trap to increase chances of capturing the armadillo as they seem to be attracted to freshly irrigated lawns. Also, line the bottom of the trap with freshly dug soil to attract the armadillo and to help them feel secure entering the trap. Armadillos are generally easy to capture in a live-catch trap using funnels. This trap set has used existing barriers such as a tree to help funnel armadillo. Notice the poultry wire held in place with rebar. Fresh soil covering the bottom of the trap would also be a good idea.
Once trapped, it is not legal to move the armadillo to another location and release it unless you have landowner permission. If you do decide to kill the armadillo, do it as humanly as possible or call a professional nuisance wildlife control operator (https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/law/nwco-operators) to have them remove the animal.
A shot to the head or spine with a 22 caliber rimfire rifle or high velocity air rifle will work. Before shooting, make certain that there are no rocks or other hard objects under the armadillo to prevent a ricochet. Also wear eye protection to prevent debris from injuring your eyes. To reduce the potential of leprosy transmission, use gloves when handling the armadillo or the trap. For additional tips on dealing with nuisance armadillo, see http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-11773/NREM-9029-2.pdf.
Forage testing -- A key decision aide
Hay fields in most areas of Oklahoma are producing an average to above average number of big round bales this summer. The quality of the hay will be quite variable. Some will supply a great deal of the nutrients needed to maintain body condition on beef cows this winter. Other hay will be lacking in protein and energy and will require a substantial amount of supplement to be fed or the cattle will lose weight and body condition during the winter months.
Forage analysis can be a useful tool to remove some of the mystery concerning the hay that producers will feed this winter. The out-of-pocket costs of protein and energy supplements are further fuel to this advice. Testing the grass hays this year for protein and energy content will help the producer design winter supplementation programs most appropriate for the forage supply that is available. To learn more about matching supplements with available forages, download and read Oklahoma State University Fact Sheet ANSI-3010 “Supplementing Beef Cows”.
There are several good methods of sampling hay for forage analysis. Most nutritionists would prefer to use a mechanical coring probe made specifically for this purpose. The coring probe is usually a stainless steel tube with a serrated, cutting edge. It is 1 inch in diameter and is designed to fit on a 1/2 inch drill or brace. Cordless drills make these tools quite mobile so that the hay bales to be tested do not have to be hauled to be near an electrical outlet. The hay samples are place in paper or plastic bags for transfer to a forage testing laboratory. Cores are taken from several bales at random to obtain a representative sample to be analyzed. More selections for forage sampling tools can be found on the National Forage Testing Association Website.
Grab samples can also be obtained and tested. To receive the best information, grab several samples by hand from about 6 inches into the open side of the bale or the middle third of a round bale. Place all of the sample in the bag. Do not discard weeds or stems, just because they look undesirable. They are still part of the hay that you are offering to the livestock. Be certain to label the forage samples accurately and immediately, in order for the laboratory analysis to be correctly assigned to the proper hay piles or bales. Obviously the more samples that are sent to the laboratory for analysis, the more information can be gained. Just as obvious is the fact that as the number of samples increase, the cost of forage testing increases. Any of the potential nitrate accumulating hays should be tested for nitrate concentration. Detailed information about collecting hay samples can be found in OSU Fact Sheet PSS-2589 “Collecting Forage Samples for Analysis”.
Samples can be taken to the OSU County Extension office near you and then sent to the OSU Soil, Water, and Forage Testing laboratory in Agricultural Hall on the campus at Stillwater. The price list below gives some of the options from which producers may choose to best fit their situation. There are other commercial laboratories available that also do an excellent job of forage analysis.
Dove Field Management
The mourning dove is a popular game animal in Oklahoma and many landowners manage fields for the purpose of hunting dove during the fall. Fields for mourning dove can be as small as one acre, however larger fields will attract more dove for longer periods of time and can accommodate more hunters. Generally fields at least 10-20 acres will be ideal for optimal dove hunting. Fields of this size can generally accommodate 10-20 hunters safely depending on field layout. There are several agronomic plants that can be managed for dove including: corn, cereal/small grains, grain sorghum, millets, soybean, sunflower (e.g. Perodovik), and buckwheat.
The most important consideration for any managed dove field is that the seed must be available on relatively bare ground before dove can use it. Dove fields with a thick thatch layer of litter or dense overstory of plant material will not be used! This means that some type of manipulation of the crop will be needed in most instances. Management practices that increase seed availability in dove fields include: burning, mowing (and potentially raking), herbicide, and grazing. Additionally, portions of fields or entire fields can remain fallow to provide openings and food availability for dove. Each of these various practices has advantages and disadvantages depending on the amount of litter, the type of plant, and the time of year.