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Dogs in the orchard, garden, and food forest.

 
dan long
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I am planning on building a sustainable homestead when i move back to NW Washington next year. I will be taking between 6-10 Formosa Black mix dogs with me. They need to have a large run as they can't be trusted to stay on the property or behave themselves properly without supervision. I would like to be ale to incorporate them into my system so that they can provide some tangible benefit to the homestead.

Formosa Blacks are chasing dogs. They have a strong chase instinct that cannot be trained out of them. As soon as I turn my back, they would for certain go after any and all small animals. Since i can't supervise them 24/7 they cannot be around chickens or baby animals. The benefit to this trait is that they will happily catch mice which do a lot of damage, particularly to the pumpkins.

The next problem is dog poop. Carnivore poop is unsafe unless well composted. Going through a half acre run with a poop scooper is obviously not a practical long-term method so they obviously can't be with the low-growing plants. I suspect they would be just fine in an orchard where their feeces wouldn't come in contact with the fruit.

Because of how territorial they are (much more so than your golden retreiver or lab) I worry about letting them stay with the: horses, sheep, and turkeys that are already there or even the goats and pigs i might eventually get (there are chickens too). But I want them in close proximity so that they can discourage coyotes. I DON'T want them free-ranging because they are all between 35-50 lbs. More tha small enough for a pack of coyotes to take down.

Then there is the advantage/problem of an orchard in general. While fallen fruit can feed: pigs, goats, chickens and turkeys (the latter picking the bugs out) the fallen fruit can attract harmful bugs. Since dogs don't eat fruit, they will have to be companioned or rotated with an animal that does.

I have many ideas. Please feel free to add to them or criticize.

The first idea is to not have an orchard at all, but rather have animal runs where fruit is grown.

1) Dogs and adult turkeys can hang out in one section where pumpkins and relativly few fruit trees are grown. The dogs will protect the pumpkins from mice and the turkeys will take care of bugs on the fallen fruit. The pumkin mounds will have to be fenced off to protect the roots of the pumpkins from digging but the pumpkin fruit will be out in the open. This means that the pumpins will not be suitable for eatng (except pumpkin seeds. yum!) because of risk of fecal contamination but they can be used as pig feed after halloween. Other flowers that attract beneficial insects but are not intended for eating can also be grown, but i wouldn't count on them not being: trampled, broken, rolled on and or dug up by playful, fuzzy monsters. Baby turkeys will be banished from this section for their own safety.

2) the next section would contain sheep and goats. This section would be loaded with trees and companion plants. Again, the trees and their companions would have fencing around them to keep the companions from being devoured. The trees would be built on large mounds (maybe hugel mounds) so that the fruit is likely to roll out of the fence. The sheep and goats can help to trim the companion plants.

3) Chickens and baby turkeys go in this next section and this section is PACKED with trees that have large canopies. Eagles are a problem here and I hope the canopy will provide protection (do you have any other ideas? maybe another animal that would intimidate the eagles?) I will err to the side of overplanting trees to guarantee there is a good canopy at the expense of fruit production.

4) If get pigs, they goe in this section. It seems, from what i have read, that pigs dont get along with ANYTHING. In fact, the only reason to have a pig is to turn waste into meat and fertilizer. This section will have the ideal spacing of trees complete with companions and lots of sun chokes in between. I suspect the pigs to be more than happy to dig those up ad cut my feed bill. Will the pigs destory the roots?

The next idea is to do pretty much the same, but rotate them weekly so that the animals who shouldn't eat too much fo the fruit don't. Turkeys and dogs take care of the bugs and are followed by pigs who eat whats left of the fruit which are followed by chickens and baby turkeys which dont really serve much purpose in this case except to get whatever the turkeys and pigs didn't which are followed by goats and sheep which are most likely to get sick from eating too much fruit.

The final solution is to give everybody their own place. Dogs in one. Chickens in another. Turkeys in yet another. Goats and sheep in the field with the horses. Food forest in yet another section. Annuals in another. Every day i'll break my back: hauling feed, mucking stalls, scraping fertilizer off the ground, and cleaning up falen fruit. While im at it, ill get some pesticides, herbicide and chemical fertilizers. Then i'll get some GMO plantsfrom Monsanto and go french kiss a jaguar. Hey, stupid people do stupid things, right?

All jokes aside, what criticism or contributions do you have to this plan?
 
L. Zell
Posts: 33
Location: Missouri
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First, dogs will eat fruit. We had a lab growing up who would pick out the biggest apple on the tree and jump, if neccessary, to pick and eat it. All of my current dogs (7) love fruit. Melons and dogs are difficult, because they can smell them getting ripe and will usually pick them the day before I am ready to. They also love squash/pumpkins. I've had more than one dog pick their own tomatoes and sweet peppers. My parents dogs will nip the tips off the asparagus as it comes up. And help themselves to sweet corn and snow peas. So, I don't think growing veggies in the dog runs will work. However, they could work to pick up falls in an orchard. Otherwise, what we do is have smaller runs for the dogs (6 or 12' by 12') and let them out to run for a while each day, with supervision. Most of them are hunting dogs, so they will chase things if given the opportunity. They are also trained to come when called, and if we are having problems with a particular dog, they will wear a training collar as a reminder. The chickens are in a tractor, and get some time out most days when the dogs are up.
 
Irene Kightley
pollinator
Posts: 382
Location: South West France
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We have five hunting dogs (Who hunt regularly.) and a young Border Collie. All of the dogs (Including the Collie who killed a turkey when he first arrived.) have at one time or another killed our poultry but little by little and with a lot of training, they now can be totally trusted.

We have about 50 chickens and at the moment 60ish chicks, ten ducks plus ducklings, turkeys plus turkey babies and two geese. They all have access to about two or three acres of forest garden and ponds and some also go further afield into the sheep and goats' grazing fields. Also, about 20 chickens are in our veg garden at any one time, although there are some who can't fly over the fence and we've made a barrier for the turkeys who are really destructive in the garden.

Just next to the house, we have a 56 acre training park for hunters and their dogs, populated with wild boar, deer and smaller game and our dogs go bonkers when they hear the other dogs following scents and giving voice. We keep them inside the house then and allow them out only when the clients have gone. We were nervous that the noise and excitement would encourage them to kill our poultry but it's been OK.

Honestly, we've hardly any problems with the dogs or the poultry and everything is nice, balanced, calm.
 
dan long
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You both give very good input. Doubly so since you are speaking from experience. Thank you!
 
Jennifer Herod
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
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what about double fencing the perimeter so there is.a.dog run encircling the property in the shape of a C with.the entrance to home and hearth, driveway,.etc at the opening? These running dogs could run to their hearts desire and romp and play all the while discouraging wild beasties. The fruit or nut trees could be planted there for shade. In the center the C you could segregate other animals as you described above.

We are pondering this for our own little plot. We have two big running dogs who want to protect the place.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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The double fencing idea is very interesting. I've been planning a double fence design for a chicken moat, but a dog moat is also a good idea. We have a lot of whitetail deer here, and a double fence ismore effective than a single fence, and the fences don't need to be as high.

I'm just curious, what were chasing dogs bred to do and why did you choose them? And why so many?
 
Jennifer Herod
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
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We have a lab that runs like the wind, and a rhodesion ridgeback (bred to chase lions in africa). Both are rescued strays.

I was also curious about the gentleman's six chasers...
 
dan long
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Matu Collins wrote:The double fencing idea is very interesting. I've been planning a double fence design for a chicken moat, but a dog moat is also a good idea. We have a lot of whitetail deer here, and a double fence ismore effective than a single fence, and the fences don't need to be as high.

I'm just curious, what were chasing dogs bred to do and why did you choose them? And why so many?


Short version: They are all rescued strays. Most strays in Taiwan are Fomosa Black mixes probably because nothing else survives the streets or runs away from the dog catchers (the dog catchers in Taiwan wont chase dogs or pick up aggressive ones. They only catch and kill the nice ones that let themselves be taken). They are an old breed, brought here by aborignial Taiwanese people, presumably as hunting dogs. Today, some aboriginal people who live in the mountains will still hunt wild boar with them. The dogs chase and wear down the boar so that the people can (no joke) finish the boar with spears.

I said "chasing dogs" as just a way to describe their habits. They are all Formosa Black mixes that I rescued off the street. Almost all of the stray dogs in Taiwan are Formosa Black mutts. Not that there is alot of infomation of how they were bred or what they were bred to do, but the impression I am under is that they were brought over and informally bred by the Taiwanese aboriginal people. No dog shows or anything. Probably more along the lines of "this one didn't bite any children, and it has caught lots of boar so it gets to live (and breed)". Since Taiwan has been colonized by so many different peoples (the Dutch, Japanese and Chinese) who brought their own dogs with them, pure bred Formosa Blacks are rare and usually have genetic disorders from the shallow gene pool because there are so few.

Very few are kept as pets the way that mine are. Working Formosa Black mutts have one of two jobs: guarding and hunting large game. They make good guard dogs because they are extremely loyal. I say "extremely" because most absolutly will not tollerate strangers. This make them very difficult to rehome which is one of the reasons i have so many (we were originally a "foster home"). Some of them will even pick and choose "masters" within the house and avoid, bite or ignore other family members. Obviously, if you know how to train a dog properly, they wont bite or ignore family members, but we have one dog who loves my wife but avoids me when i don't have food or a leash. They are also used to hunt wild boar. When they bite, they don't latch on. They snap and then jump back. This makes them very capable of hunting dangerous game. They will hunt with a pack of dogs and their masters. When they catch a scent, they will chase it down, surround it, and wear it down (as oposed to latching on and triying to kill it). The tired boar is easier for the humans to catch up to and finish off with spears (the guns they are allowed to use in Taiwan are too weak to damage a boar through its thick skin).

 
Jennifer Herod
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
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Your pups sound similar to my Rhodesian Ridgeback, bred to help hunt lions. They have similar behaviors, very special fuzzy friends. They are good companions on walks on country roads...and running off strays that wander up.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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The next problem is dog poop. Carnivore poop is unsafe unless well composted.


Myth. No worse than herbivore poop.

Since dogs don't eat fruit, they will have to be companioned or rotated with an animal that does.


Actually, they do eat fruit to a minor extent. They're not complete carnivores but more omnivore towards the carnivore end of the spectrum.

What we have is double fence lines between our grazing paddocks. We grow orchards in these double fenced areas so the trees are protected from the larger grazers (sheep and pigs in our case, maybe cattle and goats in the future). Small animals like chickens, ducks, geese, lambs and piglets get to creep graze under the wires. Small trees get protection for their bark. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2012/10/01/perfect-pear/

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2011/10/03/rootless-in-vermont/

We have a lot of dogs, a large pack of livestock guarding and herding dogs to protect and move our herds of animals (400 pigs mostly) on pasture. The dogs cause no problem for the orchards. We teach them to stay out of the gardens. They are no problem in the forest. The dogs hunt, kill and eat vermin and predators. These represent a significant portion of their diet.
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