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What to feed an LGD?

 
Posts: 17
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What are people's thoughts on what to feed an LGD? They seem to be hardy breeds which I assume require a lot of food. I feed my house dog a raw diet, plus veggies and yogurt. This is quite expensive. I wonder at what point you would break even based on fatalities to your stock vs cost of food for the LGD. Im sure that is different for each location, but a consideration to be made. I recently had something in the chicken coup, so this crossed my mind. Luckily the #1 rooster was able to fend it off(not sure what it was). There was blood everywhere. He did not survive the next day, but he did his job. I suppose cost is not much of a consideration if the LGD is considered a pet. Being an outside 24/7 working animal, I am not sure I would. Anyhow just ramblings to see what others think.
 
Posts: 130
Location: Northern California
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If you're raising chickens, you should be able to feed your LGD the offal/viscera anytime you process chickens, as well as any eggs that are unsellable (cracked/dirty). Stew that up with any unsellable veg, and you've got tasty, well-balanced, free feed. I don't think that'll meet all the caloric needs, but it'll put a dent in the feed bill.
 
Bob Schubert
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Krauss, good points for sure. All trimmings and offal from game animals that are harvested are utilized as well.
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Some LGDs will refuse parts of the animals they have been guarding! I had a pyr that seemed horrified that I was offering chicken heads and feet. He was food insecure too but would steal eggs occasionally. My Australian Shepherd with eat WAY more than my LGDs. TONS more!!! The LGDs need a low protein food once grown.
 
Posts: 48
Location: twin tiers of WNY zone 5A
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My great Pyrenees eats roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of dog food, as my golden retriever. Neither dog would eat my culled roosters. Be careful feeding whole eggs to your dog or you might accidentally creat an egg thief. My experience, HTH.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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If you want to feed eggs to your dogs, it's better to cook them anyway. It makes more protein available to them.
 
author
Posts: 39
Location: Michigan
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LGDs require less food than folks generally think. They are not super active dogs. While fresh or raw food is great, not everyone has access to butchering byproducts like a large ranch operation often does. A good quality kibble is also fine. LGD pups are best fed large bred puppy food but you need to take care not to overfeed them. They should grow slow and lean to avoid bone and joint issues. Many people take them off puppy food very early and just feed a good quality adult food that is well balanced supplemented by raw when available.
 
Mountain Krauss
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To CJ and Ray's points, I would never feed anything that is recognizable as the animals they are guarding. That's why I'd make a stew using rejected garden veggies. I'd also make bone broth (for humans) two or three times, until the bones are crumbly, before sending them to the dogs. Some nutrients are lost by cooking, but it seems like a worthwhile trade off to me.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Mountain Krauss wrote:To CJ and Ray's points, I would never feed anything that is recognizable as the animals they are guarding. That's why I'd make a stew using rejected garden veggies. I'd also make bone broth (for humans) two or three times, until the bones are crumbly, before sending them to the dogs. Some nutrients are lost by cooking, but it seems like a worthwhile trade off to me.



This is a tricky one! I like to give them raw offal, feet, heads and whatnot. It hasn't effected their guarding and doesn't make them kill the animals. They will naturally eat the animals they are guarding if dead. There are always stories about panicked LGD owners thinking their dog has eaten a new born lamb or kid. I can almost guarantee it was a still born they ate so as not to draw in predators.
 
steward
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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Ok so i just watched this video on YT where the man suggests that the majority of his Maremma's diet is sheep feces. He apparently leaves some kibble in a jug hanging on the fence. It looks like a couple of cups of food and he says it lasts his dog a week. Here's the video


First question: How much validity does this have? I've certainly seen dog eat feces but I never thought it made a up a significant part of their diet. Does it?

Second: What concerns are there with dogs eating various animal feces? I figure it's bound to happen if they are guarding the animals full time. Right?

Third: Considering all this, these dogs must have pretty tough stomachs. I butcher a lot of small animals, (chickens, ducks, rabbits) as well as pigs. The supply of offal and scrap bits is pretty steady but not always the same. One week could be all rabbit and then pork for a month, then maybe a few chickens. What steps can one take to ensure that this variance in diet isn't upsetting the dog's stomach too much. What portions of these animals would you avoid feeding to a dog? Are there nutritional considerations when selecting which offal/bone to mix together with kibble to ensure good nutrition?

 
Jan Dohner
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Posts: 39
Location: Michigan
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So I thought that I had heard everything in 35 years of using LGDs, but the idea that dogs can live on a couple cups of kibble and sheep feces is, pardon me, a load of "crap." I have heard people say that LGDs can hunt and kill enough small prey animals to feed themselves. Also bunk.

Of course, dogs may eat feces and afterbirth in the field. They may also eat small animals such as rabbits they catch, a dead animal, or a deer carcass. They need to be checked for parasites and wormed if necessary.

All hard working dogs living outside, especially in winter, deserve good quality food. My Kangals eat about a 2 qt scoop of kibble a day, occasional raw food, and they are supplemented with fats and animal protein in winter (I live in Michigan). They weigh 120-150 pounds. Working dogs also need shelter from heat and cold. I don't feed raw food exclusively but there are good guidelines available.

I do have one recommendation. If you butcher at home, remove your guardian dog when the animal is killed and butchered or do it away from their line of sight. They may indeed hold a grudge against someone who harms their animals and many dogs find it distressing. After the animal is butchered, they absolutely can eat it and they do not associate it with their former charge. I wouldn't give them the skin on or off the carcass because it will smell like their former charge.

Sometimes a LGD will guard, bury, or even try to eat at dead stock animal. Just like they may eat afterbirth, they are trying to dispose of it so it will not attract a predator. At times it can be confusing to determine whether the animal died or was killed by a predator, not your dog.
 
Posts: 6
Location: Willamette Valley
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Thanks for all the great replies, Jan!

Extending the feeding discussion to feeding logistics, how to LGD owners manage feeding in remote pastures that cannot be visited daily? How does one protect feed from livestock or rodents while still accessible to dogs? Also, what kind of shelter, particularly in winter, is commonly provided in such cases?
 
Jan Dohner
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Posts: 39
Location: Michigan
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Feeding a dog remotely is less desirable than feeding your dog every day because it reduces your opportunities to monitor your dog, give him some attention, and protect his food from weather and insects. Some dogs may also overeat. You also may not be aware of problems such as dog not eating. If you choose to self feed, you still need to check your dog for signs of illness, injury, or poisoning. Asking LGDs to live alone for long periods is not typical of their roles in their homelands, where they worked with shepherds. Even ranchers who use open range grazing usually check on their dogs every day or so, if they are not out on the range with them. Some dogs and some breeds are not content with living more remotely and with less human interaction.

However, in some cases self feeders are necessary and teaching your dog to use one can be helpful if you need to be away from home at times. Your can buy steel feeders, which is preferable to plastic due to chewing damage. The feeder needs to be secured away from stock. Some folks use livestock panels to construct a feeding pen that the dog can also use as a retreat. A porthole, jump gate, or dog door can let the dog in while excluding the stock. The feeder should be sheltered from rain, prevailing winds, snow, etc. The feeder can certainly attract rodents, wildlife, and insects.

If you are using raw food, you need to be cautious about leaving large amounts which may attract scavengers or predators.
 
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