Farm Dogs

Livestock Guardian Dogs

At Green Cedars Farm we utilize Livestock Guardian Dogs to prevent predation by coyotes, foxes, raccoons, bald eagles, hawks and other predators.  Initially, we incorporated donkeys to protect our sheep, but we quickly found that while the donkeys were very effective against coyotes, they did not perceive other predators as a threat – particularly bald eagles.  We lost eight lambs the first season to bald eagle predation.  Once we identified the problem with the help of a professional trapper, we introduced livestock guardian dogs.  (The dogs do not kill the bald eagles, they just bark at any bird that flies over and discourage them from landing – or catching lambs).

Name: Walker T.R. (Texas Ranger)
Born: 2008
Breed: Maremma mix
Job: Head of Poultry Security

Our first dog was a four month old, inexperienced Maremma cross puppy that we named Walker, T.R.  The T.R. stands for Texas Ranger.  Walker provided some security, but went through a stage where he would kill chickens when they got out of their assigned areas.  I think he actually was trying to get them back into their pens, but didn’t know how to do this without killing them.  We also had a series of dogs that didn’t work out for various reasons, including killing goats and chickens.  Then we found Buck.  Buck was living on a farm in Alabama with a flock of goats.  The farmer said that the dog was free, but I had to buy all the goats to go with him.  So, I did.  Buck was very partial to the goats in our mixed sheep/goat flock.  As we transitioned from mostly goats to mostly hair sheep, Buck lost some of his goat buddies but made new friends with the sheep (although he still has Santa Goat).  He was maturing and also taking on more livestock guardianship characteristics.  We have had no predation by coyotes or bald eagles since Buck moved in.

Name: Buck
Born: 2007
Breed: Great Pyrenees
Job: Commander of Sheep Security

Buck and Walker make a good security combination. Buck is a 90 pound Great Pyrenees and is assigned to the most valued and/or most vulnerable livestock. Buck stays in the pasture that he is assigned. Walker, on the other hand, is smaller and can come and go under most of our gates and can react to threats anywhere on the farm. When out on the farm at night, it is almost eerie to suddenly become aware of Walker’s presence in the dark. He always shows up when I am out and about at night, indicating that he is aware of all that is going on around the farm during the hours of darkness. He doesn’t necessarily do this during daylight. In fact, during the day, all of our livestock guardian dogs appear to sleep all day. However, at night they are ever vigilant.

Strider-001

 

Name: Strider
Born: March 25, 2011
Breed: Great Pyrenees
Job: First Lieutenant of Sheep Security

Strider is our largest dog, very gentle with the sheep but ferocious with potential predators.  We keep him with the ewes and their new lambs.  One teacher reported after a school group tour that a student wrote a story about him titled “Strider, the Great Protector,” and that has been his moniker ever since.

Sochi002Name: Sochi
Born: Christmas Eve 2013
Breed: Great Pyrenees
Job: Lamb Security

We liked Strider so much that we went back to the same breeder for our latest addition (same mother and father, different litter).  Sochi, our newest Great Pyrenees puppy who was named for the location of the 2014 Winter Olympics, was placed in a pen with a group of weanling lambs and chickens to bond at 8 weeks old as this starts the critical socialization stage between 8-12 weeks. The lambs were not aggressive, nor were they big enough to physically hurt Sochi.  After less than a week, they were seen sleeping together and hanging out together.  As we wean more lambs, Sochi’s flock will grow and we will eventually allow her and the flock out into increasingly larger paddocks.  We have high hopes that Sochi will more dual-purpose than the other dogs, closely bonded with both the sheep and the chickens.

 

Dogs are useful for many purposes on the farm.  Other farm dogs include:

corgi farm dogs

Left to Right: Parker, Jasper & Wally

Pembroke Welsh Corgi boys

The Corgis are primarily pets, but are occasionally used to help drive the sheep from one pasture to another (whether we want them to or not).

StitchJack-001
 
 

Name: Jack
Breed: Giant Schnauzer
Job: Gate Keeper & Door Bell

 

 

 

Banjo-5

Name: Banjo
Breed: Terrier
Job: Vermin Control

 

 

 

 

 

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