guardian animals

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by betty modin, Jan 8, 2005.

  1. betty modin

    betty modin Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone here been sucessful using a mule as a guardian for sheep? I will need a guardian-even with 4 foot high wood and woven wire fences-and had planned to get a llama to do the job-though I've been offered a burro. I've got mountain lion, bear and coyote in national forest next door...all of which have left tracks (cat), been seen on the road (bear) or heard singing....and the plan is to have them inside my stout barn at night. I'd like to have a trail riding mount because of the sheer beauty of the area and I don't have enough room for all of the above. Dogs are out for me-I tend to turn them into 4-legged children...not much good for guards sleeping in the house...or lounging by the back door! betty
     
  2. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Good Luck without a good LGD, I doubt a burro or llama will cut it with bears, coyotes and worst of all Mountain Lions. If I were in your shoes I'd have at least 2 Anatolian Shepards or not raise sheep. A burro or a llama is just another prey animal for a mountain Lion or a bear.
     
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  3. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    I can say after having 3 donkeys with my sheep that I just would not ever have one for a guard. All 3 were extremely aggressive and would attack the sheep. How those with donkeys actually guarding their flock does it is beyond me but I have had serious sheep injuries due to the donkeys. I wouldn't own another while I own sheep! (I know you weren't specifically asking about donkeys but thought I'd pipe in with my donkey exp. as I would imagine the possibilities would be similar with a burro or mule.)
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    We had some luck with one donkey two screwed it up. I've heard as many horror stories as success with dogs. I've never liked have an attack animal out of my control, even if "they've always been nice to people before" I'm sure guard dogs work if you know how to train them, actually do the work, needed and aren't put off by getting rid of the duds that don't work out. If you want a mule anyhow then get one but any livestock protection will be a bonus, its just too hit or miss to be a certainty. Electric fences, some practice with a capable gun, and common sence management seem to have the most success for most people.
     
  5. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    If you look into a Guarden Donkey, only get one, a Jenny, and one raised with the animals you want it to protect. Other wise, they will stomp your animals silly.
    Same with a Llama.
    I went the llama route with my sheep, and well lets just say, it did not work out at all, and I was very careful.

    I do have a Donkey in with my miniature horses. She is working out well as a early warning system. But She is a Jenny, was raised with miniature horses and is 5 months old. She warns me if anything is moving about that shouldn't be there, and with that Bray I can hear her for miles. Then my Handy Dandy 22. or 30-30 will come out.

    But like was said before they are pray animals and can't defend your sheep from a large packs or mountain lions or the like.

    As Ross said a LGD could work, but you need to train them, and training a puppy even already raised and started with livestock will take a lot of work.
    One reason I haven't gotten one yet. That and the cost for a good one.

    A good strong, tall Woven field or cattle panel fence, with many lines of hot wire on both sides and a charger rated for Predators would be a good start.
    Learning to use correctly and having a Shot gun or such will also help.
     
  6. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    And a tent so you can spend more time with your sheep. Remember attacks happen usually very early in the morning when most of us prefer to be asleep.
     
  7. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    A few years back I had a pair of llamas...not as guardians, but because I thought they were kinda cool and wanted to do some packing. The guardian instinct takes a couple years to kick in, and not all of them get it. Of the two I had, one would have done well, the other would have made better llama-burger.

    We've had multiple cougar and bear sitings here, and coyote, too. I've got two little dogs that no-one would ever consider a threat to wildlife, but they're vocal, and that seems to do the job. They go outside about 10 to do their final patrol, and are up again at 7. One morning about 4 Rufus began talking and wanting out, so I got up and opened the door. He shot like a bullet out back, and something LARGE went crashing through the trees. I couldn't see it, but Ruf had known it was there. Two days later we saw the cougar crossing the road, and the neighbor told us she'd found it napping outside her bedroom window the day before :eek:

    Anyway...short story long...even indoor dogs can play a role in saving your flock!
     
  8. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

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    We have had excellent luck using LGDogs ~ two Pyrenees and one Anatolian. They work off natural instinct if they are raised with the sheep, they naturally bond and want to protect them ~ no training involved at all. Just leave them alone as puppies with the sheep and most will bond and protect. Don't make the mistake of petting on them or letting them come to the house. Yes, you do need to watch that they don't "play" with the sheep as they mature but an occasional reprimand was all that was ever needed here. Never a life lost to predators and we are thick with coyotes and bobcats. We do also have cougars in the area. They will even chase the hawks, eagles and owls that fly over ~ now that's a good dog! :D
     
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  9. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    I second what Sue said. We have 3 Pyrenees and they guard instinctively, NO training needed or wanted. Ours are affectionate with us and wonderful with our kids (infact, they guard the children too if they venture out into the woods) but not "pets" like our other dogs. They sleep in the barn and pasture and are perfectly happy with the arrangement. We have cougars, bears (black and grizzly on occasion, wolves, and coyotes, and while our neighbors find tracks right near their homes, the predators steer clear of our sheep and goats, as well as our property lines.
     
  10. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Sue & Lisa,

    Who did you buy your LGD's from?

    My Biggest worry, is not all will guard/protect, and knowing friends that have had their LGD kill their cavles and ewes.
    Wonder maybe in this day and age, its certain lines within a breed along with being raised with the animals they are to guard with their parents makes a big difference?
     
  11. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not all of anything will do its job - just look at humans and I'd wager big money that more LGD's are doing their job effectively than humans doing theirs.

    That said the LGD must be raised with sheep or goats from birth. We raise anatolians and have never had one returned to us, although the offer is made to everyone who buys one from us with their purchase price being refunded if the dog doesn't work. Our last dog to go is so sheep oriented that he helps the ewes lick off the newborn lambs and they don't mind a bit. He is a whopping 8 1/2 months old and already perfectly safe with sheep. He is 3/4 anatolian 1/4 great pyr. His full sister (also 1/2 sister to my other anatolian female dog who is full anatolian) will be bred this spring, whelping in summer I guess. She is with my valuable registered California Red ewes right now at 8 1/2 months old.

    I would not sleep well at night without these dogs. We also have never lost a chicken to a predator either.
     
  12. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My friends with donkeys are quite pleased. The donkeys have to be standard or mamoth, not miniature. The minis are just too small, though they will guard. Not all donkeys will work out as guardiens. If you want a guard donkey, it would be best to contact someone with several donkeys, and ask which one will guard the sheep. Donkeys can live to be thirty years or older, so don't be afraid to buy a mature donkey. You can use a jennet or a gelded jack. If your jennet has a foal, she will be more interested in her baby for a while than in protecting the herd. If you have a large flock, you will want more than one.

    We have six sheep and two young jennets. The donkeys form one subset, the sheep another, but they keep near each other. Donkeys hate dogs. They need to become accostomed to the home dogs and will tolerate them.

    Llamas need to be trained to be guards. You don't just buy a llama and stick it in with the sheep. They have to be raised with sheep and think they are one. That said, llama guards are always gelded as they can kill the ewes when they try to breed them.

    If you want a dog, get a dog. If you don't want a dog, get a llama or donkey. Donkeys can live for thirty years, so you can buy an older animal and still have many years with him.
     
  13. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

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    My three good working dogs were purchased locally from different breeders as young 6-8 week old pups that were raised outdoors, but not with livestock. None of them are registered or come from any special bloodlines but they are all definitely pure blood as I saw the parents. We brought them home and immediately put them in pens with the sheep. They were raised from that day on with the sheep. They do not chase our chickens or horses either. The only trouble I have with them is that they insist to be with the sheep at ALL times. I can not move sheep into different pens or the working chutes without their dogs with them. If left behind, the dogs will go over the fences to get back with their flock. This is a very intense natural bond.

    I have a good friend who runs a couple hundred head of sheep on a very rough 300 acres of hills and hollers here in the Ozarks. She had five donkeys as guardians and started losing sheep left and right. She quickly sold the donkeys and bought five young LGD from several different sources. She locked up the sheep in smaller pastures until the dogs were old enough to do their job. She then turned them loose again and she has not had a loss since (over two years now). These dogs were all bought from different breeders ~ one Anatolian, two Pyrs, and two Akbash. She got lucky too and they all work well ~ no training whatsoever ~ all natural instinct.
     
  14. CountryGoalie

    CountryGoalie Well-Known Member

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    I was just noticing all of the posts from folks who have said that they have Pyrs or Anatolians as livestock guarding dogs - are there any here on the board who are using or have ever used, a Kuvasz as an LGD?

    We used to breed and show Kuvasz. Our guys are all retired now, and serve as an early warning system for any runaway critter or vehicle that they think moves too slowly in the vicinity of our house. They were not, however, raised with chickens or rabbits, and as such, most would gladly have them as a midnight snack. But, the dogs stay in their kennels, the rabbits stay in their section of the barn, and the coyotes avoid the barn due to the dogs. It works.

    We had a couple that were actually sold to folks as LGDs, to be raised with the livestock, and we never got any complaints back (we, too, have a return policy). We also had one go into a program to assist a disabled person. Being a Kuvasz, she was a bit too independent to complete the program, as there were one or two things that just didn't suit her, but she went to live with someone in a wheelchair who helped run the program.

    It's amazing how versatile LGD breeds can be. Mine double as pillows. :haha:
     
  15. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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  16. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    We just got a great pyrenees female she is approx 4-5 years old and never been around sheep or chickens. She doesn't mind the sheep, chickens, ducks, or geese. She keeps the coyotes, bears, huge bobcats, and other predators away. We intend to breed her to a 3/4 anatolian 1/4 great pyrenees male this summer. We also have not lost a chicken since she arrived. We did have a really bad problem with opossums (sp?).
     
  17. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    Wow, I checked the link given above and they want $800 for pet quality pups!! Around here they sell for around $100-150. Thats what we intend to sell our pups for. :eek:
     
  18. CountryGoalie

    CountryGoalie Well-Known Member

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    Just a question ... will this be her first litter? Having a first litter later in life can up the chances of having complications in pregnancy or in birth, so if you do plan on breeding her, do it as soon as possible.

    And as always, I advocate health checks for the parents. Eye, and especially hip dysplasia, problems tend to be more common in the large breeds and should be screened for.

    Good luck with your new girl. :)
     
  19. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    She has had pups before. This will be our first dog to have puppies. I can't wait!! :D Thank you!!
     
  20. MeadowSong

    MeadowSong New Member

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    On llama and donkey guards: Never use a male llama at all, even castrated, according to a large llama breeder I talked to. She said the castrated males will eventually start trying to breed the sheep and kill them even if it's years down the road. I did have a castrated male for a couple of years with no trouble, but replaced him with a female. The llama people said that many llamas don't guard and your best bet is to buy from someplace that has several and pay attention to know who's keeping the predators back.

    In my experience most donkeys DO guard (they don't all). They don't need to be put with livestock when they are babies and raised with them, although that certainly works. But they are highly intelligent, social animals and you need some idea of what's going on in that head of theirs to make it work. First of all, an intact male is likely to be way to aggressive to run with anything but cattle--and some will kill newborn calves (horse stallions sometimes do too, some just do). YOU ONLY GET ONE--otherwise it won't bond to the sheep. A jenny is by far the best bet, and she should be halter broke if you don't have the skill to teach her. They only like the sheep because they don't have a donkey friend. Sometimes two will guard (esp if it's a momma with her offspring), but I wouldn't bet on it, one is much better. They are bossy and expect the sheep to comply. If the donkey is getting too rough on the sheep, tie that sucker up for a while. After they think for a while (a couple hours), they are cool again. We've had to tie up a new donkey a couple of times. I can holler across the pasture and my donkey knows to "Quit", it happens a few times when they are new. When you have babies--don't lock them in the barn away from the donkey and then suddenly turn them out! That donkey will see that lamb 'chasing' the ewe and go after it. I lock ewes with new lambs in pens in the barn where the donkey can circulate freely. If I do have one out of site of the donkey, I introduce them when I bring the newbies out. Watch carefully when you have your first babies with a new donkey--esp a young one (starting with one no younger than four is nice, unless it was born there with your sheep). Be ready with a longe whip (for training horses, has a long lash), stick and string (also for training horses), or cattle sorting stick with a 4-5 foot light rope duck-taped to the end. When you can reach your donkey from the distance you are with the stick and string, you can separate the donkey from the sheep if you have trouble. Then catch the donkey (quietly) and tie them up. After a while (couple hours) carry the lamb over. Then lead the donkey to the ewe and lambs. Be ready to tap her/him back with the stick or the lead rope. You can teach them (most of them, but don't even try with an intact male) decent behavior. If they don't have donkey friends, they will bond to the sheep, but may need a few lessons on what's OK.

    I keep a donkey AND a llama with my Katahdins. The donkey and llama don't care much for each other, but each likes the sheep. When I wean, I put one with each group. When I've had just one or the other sometimes I've had a loss, but the two seem to be able to handle it. The only predators I have are lots of coyotes and some stray dogs (which are about worse). Guardian dogs are great, but I only have thirty acres and keeping the dog home is a problem. But the dogs I've had were not bonded to the sheep. They've still been good guards, but patrol the whole place (and the neighbor's places) and so I've had losses in my sheep. After a loss then the dog keeps a closer watch--but with the donkey and llama, no losses.

    This is rather a long piece, but wanted to help someone out with what I've learned. If you don't have experience with horses, you might have problems with donkeys--donkeys are easier than horses (and smarter as much as it hurts me to say it), but still require some understanding. If you don't have horse experience, perhaps you could find someone to give you some lessons, or a book, to help you understand equine social behavior. I'm a horse person to start with and really enjoy the relationship I have with my donkeys.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013