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Lions, Tigers, & Bears - Oh my!

 
Deborah Reid
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We have been using LGD's since 2012 when we got an adult Maremma Sheepdog to guard our poultry, goats and cows. We had been losing some chickens to the local wildlife - foxes and possibly weasels - up until we got our LGD. The poultry losses stopped!

Our first LGD was not raised as a livestock guardian, however, she came from working parents and an experienced breeder who also strongly believes in health testing, good temperaments, proper structure and instinctual guardian ability. We were lucky!

Now we have 2 young LGD girls who are growing up to protect our poultry, goats, cows and pigs from bears, coyotes, foxes, wolves, cougars, neighbor dogs (which so far have not been a problem thank goodness!), and the occasional smaller varmit that thinks it can get away with an easy chicken dinner! Even though our two are not mature enough to full time, unsupervised, guardian duty, just their presence, their routine barking to let the predators know they ARE HERE!, has been deterrent enough that we have only had one loss, and that was when they were very young!

We are looking forward to the time that our two Maremmas can go on active duty 24/7 with the livestock on the full acreage. Our oldest will be 2 years old this coming July and our younger girl will only be a year old this coming February. We have even decided to fence in the complete property, which will include our new little orchard, the poultry area, barn-yard and future shop area, so that the Maremma's can guard the whole place instead of just the pasture area. We have a lot of fencing yet to do before we reach that point LOL.

Deborah
Black Alder Ranch
 
Jan Dohner
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Location: Michigan
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Hi Deborah

What a good story about raising livestock guard dogs (LGDs) for success as well. And it illustrates something I have seen over and over again, having an LGD on the property extends his protective influence into areas beyond the actual pasture he may be in. Dogs around and next to poultry areas are very successful at frightening and warning predators away. I've seen my dogs keep predators out of the entire small farm even when they are confined to one area. How do they do this? All the barking is one reason - they are alerting the neighborhood predators that there is a dog on duty. Every yip or howl from a coyote is answered. Predators are also aware of LGDs in other ways like patrolling and scent marking.

Even if you don't want or need a full-time livestock guardian, the LGD breeds make excellent farm and family guardians - good old fashioned farm dogs who live outside and protect your place.
 
Deborah Reid
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Last night was a prime example Jan.

The girls did their normal evening routine - they bark in the morning right before dawn, and in the evening right after dusk. I think that barking is something a lot of people are unprepared for and do not understand, but it truly is part of the protective layer that an LGD provides. Once you have had an LGD for a while, you will start to notice pattern barking - that the dogs always seem to bark routinely at certain times. I have come to find this is when the predators in your area are most active, ours are at dawn and dusk. The girls do bark periodically throughout the night as well, some of it marker barking (barking to let the predator know they are here) and sometimes it is alert barking, a bark that says "I see you/smell you/know you are there - back off!" - again, once you have had your LGD for a while, you can start to hear a difference in their bark which is very helpful in determining if your LGD may need you to come investigate or assist them!

So last night at about 3:00 am I woke up and I could hear a pack of coyotes singing quite loudly not far away - and my Maremma's answering every call and yodel with a response of their own! I listened for a little while, to make sure the girls were just answering and not telling me there was a problem (like the coyotes coming in too close) and went back to sleep, knowing my LGD's had it handled

Deborah
Black Alder Ranch
 
Jan Dohner
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Location: Michigan
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I completely agree with your observations about barking. There is marker barking at dusk, dawn, and periodically. We ignore that. If they keep it up or continue barking at things they should come to accept, we thank them and ask them to 'stop barking".

There is "I heard or smelled you" barking. We generally ignore that as well. And there is that slightly hysterical, rapid, high -pitched barking that is a sign of something is coming too close and pushing the boundaries or attacking. That's when we flip on the lights to provide backup to the dogs and ask them "what's up." We absolutely don't interfere in a real attack and I don't advise it unless your dog is outnumbered or overpowered by a large predator.

Barking is one of the tools your dog uses to work. I've told this story elsewhere - one summer a pair of coyotes decided to build their den and raise pups right outside our back pasture fence. It was one long exhausting summer filled with lots of barking but we didn't lose a lamb or sheep and the coyotes moved on out as soon as they could. That's what I hope to accomplish through using LGDs - live and let live unless you cross the fence line and attack my animals.
 
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