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Livestock Guardians From Scratch


When we originally moved to our farm we realized very quickly that we were at the heart of coyote population in our area. We already had sheep at another farm and we planned to move them to our current farm but knew it was only a matter of time before the predators figured out what an easy meal they could have.

We had previously tried to use Great Pyrenees from a working farm to watch over our sheep but found that they spent more time roaming and trying to watch other farms livestock than our own. So we chose the seond time around. We brought home a 3 month old puppy that had been raised with goats but had very little human interaction. He bonded quickly with our sheep but he started trying and successfully killing our ducks and chickens. We tied him on a chain at our sheep barn and let him grow up mentally and heavily discouraged him from messing with our poultry. We would let him off line periodically to see if he had outgrown the fascination with trying to kill our poultry. After he turned around 9 months he could be let off the chain for extended periods of time without incident. After about a year and half he no longer harmed poultry. He was very strongly bonded to sheep almost to the point of taking lambs from their mothers to guard and care for so we had to chain him once again during lambing season. This dog presented us with a huge learning curve.

We have since learned that there are a variety of temperaments in Livestock guardians, some are solid from day one with very little corrections and then some take a couple of years to be trustworthy. Bloodlines matter greatly as we introduced a few different dogs that were each different and noticed that certain personalities made for easier training for livestock guardians. For smaller farms we prefer a more laid back LGD, for larger farms and stock that travels long distances you want a more energetic dog that will follow them every step of the way.

After we were able to get the first dog well started, each added LGD puppy learned from the older dog, the other dog provided companionship and leadership, so we found it was always best to have an older dog to teach the puppy. It is not 100 percent fool proof in every instance but it does help and is better than starting from complete scratch with a new one.

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