Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Livestock Guardian Dogs’

This is not the year of the chicken for us.  Early this morning, Wes, one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs, got into the field with chickens and killed a number of laying hens and some of the broilers we were going to process this coming weekend.  Several other hens were injured or traumatized.  So for the time being, eggs are off the product board.  We will attempt to fill current standing orders, but casual and occasional availability will be extremely limited.

The good news is we have around 30 baby hens who will begin laying sometime around the first of the year.  Until then, please be patient.  We’ll keep you posted as to when we have eggs.  Thanks.

Also, Wes is looking for a new home.  If you know of anyone who needs a Livestock Guardian Dog, but doesn’t keep poultry, let us know.  He’s good with goats, sheep, cows and donkeys.

 

Read Full Post »

The first 10 days with our Livestock Guardian Dogs was pretty traumatic.  We were concerned for several days that it wasn’t going to work out.  The adjustment period was anything but smooth.

The dogs are very friendly.  They love to jump and cuddle and kiss.  But 85 lb puppies with heads the size of basketballs can be pretty overwhelming, even when they are being loving.

The dogs went straight to work.  From the very first night, they would take turns patrolling the perimeter of their field.  Since the arrival of the dogs, our predators have disappeared.  We do have some neighborhood cats who like to watch the rabbits for an opportunity to grab a quick snack, but they are not a threat.  Our turkey pen has been completely unmolested. Our chickens are ranging happily around most of the farm.

On occasion, the dogs hear or smell something in the woods.  When they do, they jump up and run to the the end of the pasture and warn off the interloper with a brief chorus of barks.  Then they return to their regularly scheduled naps.  These dogs do sleep a lot.  I’m a bit jealous.

The dark side has been that the dogs weren’t raised with chickens and consider the birds as intruders.  They killed several the first few days.  We were heart broken and thought we’d made a huge mistake, but learned quickly to keep a strong fence between the dogs and the poultry.  After some early mishaps, life has calmed down.  The dogs have learned to coexist with chickens in the adjacent fields and the chickens couldn’t care less about the dogs.  They are chickens and have pretty short memories.

We had to make some fencing adjustments like fixing the gates so the dogs could neither climb over nor under, but we got that done and life is quieting down.  It’s been a week now with no loss of feathered life from predator or guardian.  Long may it continue.   I hope it didn’t just jinx it.

 

Read Full Post »

It’s rather well known that one of the best predator prevention programs is to enlist the assistance of Livestock Guardian Dogs.  LGDs are different than herding dogs, in that their primary job is to defend the flock.  Traditionally, they come from the large working breeds like Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, Komondors and even Old English Sheepdogs.  There are a few other breeds as well.

The life of a Livestock Guardian dog is quite simple and useful.  They live with the animals, rather than with their humans.  During the day, they sleep and frolic among the sheep, goats, chickens or cattle and at night they patrol the perimeter of the pasture keeping intruders at bay.  Generally, LGDs work in pairs.  At the approach of danger, one dog rounds up the livestock and paces in front of them while the other goes to confront the interloper.  Usually the very appearance of a Guardian Dog sends a coyote, fox, mink, raccoon, possum or bobcat running for cover.  Occasionally, the predator learns the hard way.  In the event of a larger animal, like a Mountain Lion or wolf, both dogs work together to eliminate the threat.

During daylight hours, LGDs can be very affectionate with humans, even strangers.  At night, when they are on duty, even human prowlers would do well to find another address to invade.

Brittan and I have been thinking about Livestock Guardian Dogs ever since our predator problems began a few months back.  We’ve lost dozens of chickens and several rabbits.  We don’t want to lose any more.  The problem is, LGDs are expensive.  Especially trained ones.  We can’t do expensive right now.  You can replace a lot of chickens for the hundreds of dollars even one Livestock Guardian Dog would cost.  Our farm would need two pair, one for each side of the driveway.  The money tree just wouldn’t let that happen.

Yesterday (Sunday), Brittan and I went up to Gainesville, GA to a Kiko goat farm to discuss getting some breeding stock for our meat herd.  It was a wonderful experience and we know what we’re after.  It’s just a matter of time.  Within the year, we’ll have our foundation stock.  In the meantime, we’ll buy some feeder goats from the auction or from Craigslist.

While we were there, we noticed LGDs everywhere.  Mostly Great Pyrenees and Anatolians.  We asked a few questions and received an interesting reply, “Do you want some? I’m looking for homes for some pups that were born in January”.

Brittan followed, “Well, how much do you want for them?”

“You didn’t understand me, I just want a good home for them.  It was an accidental breeding between a Pyreneees and a mixed breed LGD.  Everyone wants papers and these dogs don’t have them.  They have been training with their mother, ‘Smiley’ since they were born.”

Needless to say, we had to go see them.  These dogs are gorgeous.  They are only 5 months old and are already pretty good sized.  They look a great deal like St. Bernards.  Each of them has its mothers tendency to ‘smile’.  It’s so cute.  It looks like a snarl, but really is a sign of affection.  Belgian Sheepdogs do the same thing.

Brittan picked out two pair.  Since they are siblings, they will be spayed and neutered right away.  In June they will make their way to the farm and go in duty.  They will stay in the fenced pastures  with the other animals and I’m already less worried about predators.  They will even keep away snakes and most birds of prey.  I feel much better about the rabbits and baby goats, as well as the chickens and turkeys.  The donkeys and cows can take care of themselves.

Our little farm in the suburbs is becoming quite the operation.  We have great animals, helpful neighbors, awesome landlords and the best customers in the world. Later this summer some tasty veggies will just about make the picture complete.  Once the Tilapia farming begins, we will be firing on all cylinders.  Stick around, it’s going to be great fun.

Read Full Post »