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Urban livestock guardians

 
Kirsten Simmons
Posts: 32
Location: Atlanta, GA
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Semi-hypothetical environment - ie, doesn't exist yet, but I'm working towards it and it may see reality in the next year.

I'm starting an entrepreneur's incubator on an urban permaculture farm. We'll have between 1 and 5 acres (still negotiating the exact location for the pilot site) and the number/type of animals will vary accordingly - either chickens and ducks on the low end to a flock plus a few goats on the high end. I'm planning to use rotational paddocks to clear brush and build soil, so fencing will be electric. Natural predators are hawks, raccoons, maybe the occasional coyote, fox, or roaming dog. But we're also likely to have to deal with human 'predation' - all of our potential locations are in low income neighborhoods, and it will take time to build community ties. I'm not thinking hungry folks stealing animals so much as unemployed teens taking potshots.

My brainstorms include a mix of structural and guardian approaches - keeping animals further from the property lines in the initial months, planting thorny yet prolific raspberry hedges on the borders and putting the word out that the fruit is free for the taking to build community relationships while simultaneously deterring trespassers, keeping guardians of some sort with the animals, etc. The type of guardian would have to take into account the location, as well - dog bites are not good community outreach, regardless of whether the person bitten is trespassing.

Thoughts on the best way to address the range of predators?
 
Jan Dohner
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Posts: 39
Location: Michigan
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In an urban area where you want good public relations and little liability, a dog is probably not the best answer. Either a llama or a donkey - choose one who doesn't exhibit any human aggression at all - is you best best. On the other hand, they won't do anything for human predation. A dog would but that would defeat your attempt at positive relations with neighbors and liability. The dog would also bark a lot which generally doesn't go over well in urban areas. Barking is the number one reason LGDs are turned in to rescue.

Can you fence really really well? Can you use electricity as a scare wire? Both would help with predators - human and otherwise.
 
Kirsten Simmons
Posts: 32
Location: Atlanta, GA
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Yeah, definitely going to have living fences planned and planted from day one. I think we may just have to accept some loss of stock to humans as an initial price of business, since I doubt we'll have the funding to secure the entire space from the beginning with dead fence. Nor do I want the place walled off like Fort Knox; the goal over time is to become a valued part of the community.

You did just give me a thought, though - there are a couple of companies in the area that clear land with sheep and goats, and I've seen them in urban spaces with LGDs. I should reach out to them to ask how they handle barking and liability.


Thank you!
 
C. Hunter
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A LGD that will take on humans is a HUGE liability in an urban environment. Talk to your lawyer. I'd think the best option would be a donkey, as many states have liability waivers for equines/equine activities.
 
Kirsten Simmons
Posts: 32
Location: Atlanta, GA
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My lawyer's been my best friend on this project thus far!

A donkey offers the potential to stack functions, as it would also be a manure source and could help carry loads.
 
Nathan Pickard
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If your city is anything like my city, you'll be lucky to be allowed to have anything other than dogs and cats. The ordinances are usually very restrictive about farm animals in urban areas.
 
Kirsten Simmons
Posts: 32
Location: Atlanta, GA
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Atlanta's actually decent in this regard. I've got a lot more research to do, but there's a nice loophole for 'pet' livestock. So the smaller breeds - kunekune pigs, babydoll sheep, nigerian dwarf goats - are fair game with established examples. And chickens/roosters are allowed. Most of it is the size of the lot, and then it's also possible to get an agricultural business zoning that allows much more flexibility on said larger lot sizes.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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