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Predator safety for poultry

 
                                      
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We live in a mountain community where there is a relatively dense population.  Our property is bordered on all side by houses.  I love the idea of live guard dogs for protection and pasturing the chickens in the four corners of the property.  We have coyotes, bears, racoons and occasionally mountain lions.  With the close proximity of the other homes, would live guard dogs be realistic?  I have been told they like to "talk" at night which is when they are primarily awake.  Would portable mesh electric fencing be sufficient to keep all of our predators out?
 
Leah Sattler
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electric fencing keeps predators out if it is on and working. your domestic animals will have been accustomed to and likely respect it even if it is "down". however a wandering predator approaching your stock for the first time must encounter it when it is hot. I have continuous trouble with electric fence grounding out and either completely sucking the charge or making it weak. however I do not have netting just steel and aluminum. I also have a solar charger (the largest I could buy locally) which may not give as good a zap as a good standard charger.

the dogs have pros and cons as well as donkeys and llamas. the barking is one reason why I have resisted aquiring one.

 
                    
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Sounds like you might need a special breed of guard dog. I have had experience with a few breeds that have surpassed my expectations. If barking would be an issue, I would go with a breed like the Dogue De Bordeaux or their ugly cousin the Cane Corso. These dogs have the tendency to lie around until a problem arises. Then they get loud and mean. Also great with children, but a firm handler is definitely required. Also, if mountain lions are a serious issue, I would look into the African Boerboel. These are massive babies, but God bless the person or thing that crosses them. As the above breeds, they are great with kids, but a firm handler is needed. One negative aspect of these breeds is that they are quite costly, but in my honest opinion a step above all other guard dogs. There are no equals. Specifically the Boerboel, once again in my opinion, the most loyal family pet available. 
 
Jami McBride
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books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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Stully - you've got it. 
Great Pyrenees are a good guard/family dog too.  Check 'em out here http://www.akc.org/breeds/great_pyrenees/

These dogs are to be raised with livestock, sleep with them and such.  I don't know how you might work that out with chickens.... but they only bark when doing their job.  The livestock keeps them company/family and gives them their purpose.  Dogs with a purpose don't do the usual irritating dog things.  But we are talking about 'working' dogs here and not house pets. 

If you don't get one of these special breeds and/or cannot raise it with livestock I would suggest you get two dogs.  Giving your outside guard dog a 'pack' helps the needless barking to an extent, and of course training to give them a specific job helps too.

One more thing - even though these special guard dogs will cost more than an animal shelter dog - when raised with livestock you don't have to do much training yourself.  For some people this fact alone is worth their price.   Proper training of working dogs can take a lot of time and work, so matching the dog breed to the need is well worth it IMO.

 
                                      
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Thanks for all your input
Do you know of anyone who has used the portable electric fencing at www.maxflex.com?
 
                    
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Giving your outside guard dog a 'pack' helps the needless barking to an extent


eeehhh.....I dunnooo.....sometimes two dogs can kind of egg each other on with the barking.  One starts, the other goes off too.  Not always....but sometimes. 

All the advice about specific breeds is awesome, I'll need one of those non-mutts in the future maybe.  My mutt seems to do the job ok, but I think we got randomly lucky and ended up with a rhodesian ridgeback (another african dog - bred for lion hunting) pitt bull mix.  I'll be happy when he finally stops growing and stays awake more often.  Sleepy growing puppy!

Guard dogs are supposed to bark!  That's how they keep stuff away.  It may seem to us that they're barking at "nothing" but there are many things on the wind they pick up that we don't.  Do your neighbors have dogs?  If theirs bark around enough you might not need a whole lot of extra doggie patrol. 
 
Jami McBride
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Location: PNW Oregon
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If there is reason to bark dogs will bark, and do encourage one another to join in.  If there are neighbor dogs their backing will signal your dogs to bark - everyone is saying to the approaching-thing "this is my territory and I will defend it"!  When one dog hears this warning he too adds his warning even before he smells or hears the approaching-thing.  Although they do smell and hear things way before us humans.

The barking I was speaking of is that of a lone dog fenced in, chained, contained and board.  The backyard dog that seems to bark all night because he is outside while the family 'his pack' are inside.  The dog that seems to bark all day, because his people have gone to work and school leaving him.  This situation would be better served by having two dogs raised together outside.  Yes they will bark when they see, smell or hear something or when far off dogs bark, but they will also stop barking and play, guard, etc.

Sounds like you would be better served by a fence for your chickens....
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Livestock guardian dogs don't usually bark just to be barking, nor because they are fenced in with their livestock (chaining them would be counter-productive, as they wouldn't be able to do their work that way).  But if you have close neighbors I wouldn't go that route, at least not with Great Pyrenees, Maremma, etc.  They may only bark when there's something to bark at (although I think some of their barking is to let predators know that their territory is already claimed, not because of a specific threat), but unless all your neighbors have their own barking dogs, they aren't likely to be happy with yours.  Those big voices carry a long ways, too.  I like LGD's, but they only work in some situations, and close housing isn't one of them, IMO.

Kathleen
 
                    
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The barking I was speaking of is that of a lone dog fenced in, chained, contained and board.


ah yes, he's saying "someone!  pay!  attention!  to!  me!  please!"  Agreed that two dogs keep each other entertained.  Our poor lone dog (not fenced or chained though) is needy for attention.  I want him to be a  bit older before we get another one.  Have to space them out so you don't have two elderly dogs at once. 
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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