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Good Small Poultry Guard?  RSS feed

 
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We are planning to make the switch from electric net fencing to permanent welded wire fencing in the next year and one thing we wanted to do was to get a poultry guard dog. Most of the time when people talk about livestock guard dogs they are talking about the large breeds that can watch sheep and goats, but we are a small farm and do not want to feed such a large creature unnecessarily? Are there any really good small breeds that will drive off a fox or opossum but not harm chicks?

We got a Beagle/Husky mix and while she was the right size and loud like we wanted but she did not do well with poultry so now she is an indoor dog (though to be fair when we had an outdoor rat problem she was a great help and made up for it). We want to make sure before we get another dog that we are getting one with the highest chance of working out because we really don't want yet another indoor dog.
 
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The problem is, most dogs that are sized like you seem to want are not good for use as guard dogs against raccoons, foxes or coyotes, which are the predators you will mostly be dealing with.
Even a LGD alone is not a match for more than one coyote at a time, but they will deter the coyotes from wanting to come around. Foxes are going to win against many medium sized dogs too.

We have three dogs, 1 Boxer mix, 1 Catahoula Cur, 1 Pit Bull mix, none of them are allowed in with the  hogs and chickens but they do patrol all around the fenced in area they live in.
We have a very large pack of coyotes that hunt the flat lands to the north of our farm, they do not come onto our land because when they do their pre hunt calls, our dogs answer.
 
Thomas Partridge
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Even a LGD alone is not a match for more than one coyote at a time, but they will deter the coyotes from wanting to come around.



We don't really have coyotes, the worst we get is foxes and small ones at that (house cat size). I am also not desiring a fox fighting dog - I want one that will bark enough to startle it and to give it something else to worry about. Fighting the fox means vet bills that will probably cost a lot more than the chickens would cost to replace (only birds we have that have predator problems).
 
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We have a Great Pyrenees and she does a wonderful job protecting our flock, though she does cost us about $90 a month in dog food. She get's the good stuff (4Health grain free). I agree with Bryant that it's more about the size of your enemy than the size of you farm. And most small dogs are more likely to go after your chickens. An alternative may be for you to get a guard goose. I know Joel Salatin keeps one with his chickens and they keep predators away. Just don't get more than one or they'll care about each other and not protect your chickens.
 
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My Pitbulls are excellent for that and 100% reliable with my chickens and cats.  They wander through the birds with me as I feed them and work in the chicken run.  The chickens walk right up to them.
 
Thomas Partridge
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Justin Peck wrote:We have a Great Pyrenees and she does a wonderful job protecting our flock, though she does cost us about $90 a month in dog food. She get's the good stuff (4Health grain free). I agree with Bryant that it's more about the size of your enemy than the size of you farm. And most small dogs are more likely to go after your chickens. An alternative may be for you to get a guard goose. I know Joel Salatin keeps one with his chickens and they keep predators away. Just don't get more than one or they'll care about each other and not protect your chickens.



I like that! I had considered guard geese but I didn't know you could only keep one for that effect. Maybe I will see about getting a single gosling and see how that goes.

The problem with Pyrenees and other medium to large dogs is that they cost more to feed than a dog that weighs about 20lbs
 
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