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Guard Animals Guarding the homestead

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Old 01/05/17, 01:14 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: California
Posts: 411
Coyotes - time for an LGD?

I will start by saying that I pasture-lambed sheep for 9 years, in an enclosure that was within a very wild horse pasture in the Santa Cruz mountains, and never lost anything to coyotes. Far as I knew, none ever dug under to get in with the sheep, even though they lived in the pasture surrounding my field-fenced enclosure.

Fast forard: We have lived at our current place for four years. 40 acres that had dilapidated barbed-wire fencing of the perimeter. Coyotes worked the fallow acreage hunting gophers and ground squirrels. Then we came along and fenced the perimeter with field fencing topped by two strands of barbed wire, and graze our sheep on the 40.

At this time of year, with the rain softening the ground, we have coyotes dig under. I've seen one out there during the day, hunting gophers. The sheep are mostly unconcerned, though I have seen them flock together at times. In these four years, we have had no attacks, though I know these coyotes manage to get in. We walk the perimeter and block the holes with branch wood from the old plum orchard that used to be here, but that of course doesn't stop them.

I have been dreading committing to a LGD but fear the time is near that we will have to go there. I am hoping these coyotes remain unambitious and content with the gophers. Where I kept the sheep before, there was coyote scat full of rabbit fur from the abundant rabbit population, so the coyotes just never felt it necessary to go after the sheep. I am worried that if we kill these coyotes, worse ones could replace them.

So, I have several concerns about introducing an LGD. We have herding dogs, and I train on the sheep. I would need for the dog to know that my dogs are acceptable. I've seen video of BCs gathering sheep with the LGD present without trouble. So, the dog would have to be socialized with my other dogs. Doable. I also have visitors come for herding lessons. So, I'd put the dog in a kennel during these times. Any problem with that?

The other concerns are our cats. They are indoor/outdoor and like to go out in the pasture to hunt gophers. How to ensure they'd be safe with the LGD? I know the pup is supposed to live with the sheep (in a pen to begin with?) but would it work to bring the pup up to the house for short stints on a daily basis to see the cats? Same with the chickens, which live in an area separate from the pasture?

Lastly, we have a real problem with foxtails and rip-gut brome during the dry-down of late spring/summer, and I worry about a dog living out in those conditions. Someone mentioned the short coat of an Anatolian might be more suitable, but they seem more problematic with unwanted aggression Does anyone here have experience with using LGDs under such conditions?

Advice welcome!
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Old 01/05/17, 10:07 AM
barnbilder's Avatar  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: va
Posts: 2,947
A good coyote (one that isn't acclimated to eating livestock) is the most effective livestock guardian you can have, no vet bills, county dog tags, or feed bills. Good coyotes will chase away bad coyotes just like any dog. Every once in a while, one, or a pair, break bad and have to be dealt with. The same can be said for LGDs. Sounds like with your fences, and recognition of coyote dig-unders, they would be super easy to eradicate.
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Old 01/05/17, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Michigan's thumb
Posts: 15,887
I have to agree with barnbilder. The coyotes are not bothering your border collie or your cats. The coyote parents will continue to teach their offspring that gophers and rabbits are food, so each generation will kill them for you.
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Nothing is as strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength - St. Francis de Sales
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Old 01/07/17, 07:37 PM
wendle's Avatar  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,129
If you aren't having problems you may be fine. If you start having problems with coyotes keep in mind it will take a year for a pup LGD to be able to protect against coyotes. If you are having a problem you will likely need two LGDs. Started dogs cost a little more, and are hard to come by. It's not a bad idea to prepare by starting a pup.
The LGD will learn to work with the border collie and tolerate the dog if he is raised with them.
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Old 01/09/17, 10:51 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Eastern Panhandle WV
Posts: 2,944
What about adding a donkey or mule? Hot wire on bottom of fence?
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