LGD, Donkey or Llama

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by flannelberry, Jan 6, 2007.

  1. flannelberry

    flannelberry Pure mischief

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    Hi everyone

    I was wondering what the general feeling is about protection for sheep. I realize that the LGD can do more by way of protecting but IME they also are more work. Do people find that llamas or donkeys are sufficient or do you *need* a dog. We're trying to decide if we should get another LGD or something else and just looking for opinions.

    FWIW -we live in a small, medium and large sized predator area. Everything from raccoons to bears and cougars (although cougars are rare, bears are not).

    I'm just interested to hear what people have to say. I lean towards LGD but my old llama was the biggest chicken anywhere! He wasn't much of a representative for llama guarding work.
     
  2. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    I say get a Maremma, but I may be biased ;) How could you NOT want one of these?[​IMG]
     

  3. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I use and raise Anatolians. The picture of the Maremma is sure cute, but the long wooly coat here in texas would be a disaster with grass burrs. A slick coated dog does better here with sticker burrs.

    BTW, I have 2 22 week old Anatolian Pups (both females) left for sale. These pups are safe with my newborn (1 week old) registered Cal Red lambs.
     
  4. MTDeb

    MTDeb Well-Known Member

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    Oh my gosh! How could you resist one of those cuties!!

    We've had a donkey and now we have a llama. Both the donkey and llama were great guards, but they only have to guard against stray dogs roaming around. We don't have any experience with them guarding against anything bigger than that.

    The only problem with the donkey was that he ate SO much. They eat as much as a horse, of course. The llama eats way less and they make wonderful fertilizer too. :p
     
  5. Oregon Julie

    Oregon Julie Well-Known Member

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    If you have bears I would go with LGD's rather then donkeys or llamas. From what I have heard about donkeys as guardian animals some are great, but others are other of no value at all or worse yet they do damage to what they are meant to protect. I am also not so certain that they could be effective against a bear. I tend to believe that a couple (or more) barking LGD's would be far more likely to keep even the larger predators at bay. And as much as I love our llama and feel she does a nice job of keeping the coyotes away, I think she would be overwhelmed by much more then one or two at a time.

    When I first moved to Oregon I lived in an area with lots of sheep and lots of bears and mountain lions. I was the only person for many miles up and down our road that did not have losses due to predators. I was also the only one with LGD's. My feeling was this was due to the 2 wonderful Anatolian Shepherd Dogs that I had. They did a great job of making the unwanted critters very aware of their turf and that they were meant to stay away from it.

    We had a situation here last spring where our dogs where moved off the property, stock stayed. I lost a nice high % Dorper ewe and my neighbor reported an increase in coyotes seen and heard. As soon as the dogs came back, no more problems. We have 2 ASD's and 3 Kuvasz. Two of the three Kuvasz are with stock, the third was almost 2 by the time we got him and has not a clue as to how to be with stock but he is hell bent to keep our property clear of unwelcome visitors. One of the ASD's is a rescue who did not work out with the goats, but is great at property guarding and the other is fantastic with stock and property guarding.

    I have had LGD's for about 18 years now and I will never be without them, a good one is worth its weight in gold IMO. Do note the good part, plenty of ill bred, ill raised ones out there who are more of a problem then they are worth.
     
  6. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Boy...I looked at LGDs last year, and nearly got one, too. I think they're priceless in many situations, but you've got to ask yourself if you're in that situation. How much land have you got to protect, has anyone had large predator issues, are you set up for a dog...it all factors in.

    In my case, there have been a few cougar attacks on cattle in the county over the past ten years...many more sightings of both the cats and bears. My sheep are at home for the most part, close enough for me to feel comfortable as it's just a couple acres that I've got them on. During the summer they get moved to the neighbor's property which hasn't got quite the 'security' of a home sitting right there. It also isn't fenced well enough for me to put a dog on (and risk the injury to neighborhood pets if they wandered onto the property.) Because most of the properties here are between 5-10 acres, and more a rural life-style than real life, I decided a dog may actually be more trouble than the potential predator.

    If your biggest issue is coyote, then llamas or donkeys are good for the job (not all will be protective, as you've discovered!) I'll have my horse out with the sheep on summer pasture this year to deter those pesky critters (although, knock on wood, we've never lost a lamb to predators...just chickens to racoons!)
     
  7. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If I had to contend with cougars and bears I would have a pair of Anatolians. preferably a male and a female. Usually the female hangs back with the flock and the male presses the attack - much better if multiple predators are involved. Once my last puppies go today I will have 6 anatolians.
     
  8. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Coyotes have been known to distract the guard animal while another coyote makes off with the livestock. If you have coyotes or coydogs, you will want more than one guard animal, esp if you are using donkeys or llamas. If you decide on a donkey or llama, they need to have been raised with the type of livestock you have. In the case of llamas, a trained gelded guard llama will cost more than another llama. Another thing to consider is that your donkey or llama will only guard the herd, not your house.
     
  9. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Do a search here on guard dogs. Our very best year for no losses was this year, only diff? We put the horse and two ponies in with the sheep. Zero losses. Oh and they stay behind standard farm fences, don't chew up your sheep, and are multi-role animals if you like horses.
     
  10. Slev

    Slev Well-Known Member Supporter

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    First, I'm glad you gave enough information to let others respond to your question.

    For starters, YOU need to contact the American Sheep Institute and seek their advice. When I did they told me for across the board preditors, LGD's were the best defence against attacks. They even provided a rating-like all the way down to thew horse, (which was like 1 in 200 of being a protection animal!) I'm glad that both Ross and myself seemed to have found that "one"

    However, before I bought my horse, (to ride, not guard -that's just an added bonus) We went with a pair of Maremma's, who ranked right in the middle on agressive behavior. We couldn't be more happy with them. I will add this though, I think with ANY LGD, they will roam/patrol whatever areas THEY feel needs protection. No matter what type of fence ot barrier you try to put up, mine have done whatever they wanted, gone whereever they think they need to go. I have worked with them somewhat to understand to at least stay in their field while I'm at home!!!! LOL

    Also, we bred our Maremma to an Anatolian and you know what? We really like his style too. Kinda different, (but that may be because he falls within a ranking system already in place, who knows) His bark is such that I may need to replace the siding on my house! he sounds as bold as a lion! which strikes me funny because Anatolians are what is mostly used in Africa to fend of lions from goat & sheep herds! wow! However I will add this, my Anatolian seems as friendly as my Maremma's.

    My vote says go for multiple LGD's and maybe one Donkey. (While donkeys may eat a lot, they are way less work than Llama's and you don't have to worry as much about even a nutered donkey trying to mount your ewes in heat, unlike some Llama stories I've heard about.... (plus there's the sheering question...
     
  11. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    Part of our decision was based on the county regulations for livestock density. A llama or horse or donkey counts as "one animal unit", equal to three sheep. There's a limit to how many animal units you can have on your land (which is just good stocking practice, really, but the county does enforce it - I presume to prevent folks from overstocking).

    Dogs, well, you can have 2 on land less than 10 acres (I have 6.3). With the county rules in mind, I can have my small flock of chickens, fifteen sheep, and two dogs. If I wanted a guardian llama, I'd be down to twelve sheep. The dogs are better all-around protectors, I like dogs anyway, and I know how to look after them. If I got a llama or donkey (I really did consider the donkey...) that'd be one more critter I had to learn to look after, and it meant fewer sheep.

    The dogs are indeed a fair bit of work - especially training the puppy, oi! - and they roam, as has been mentioned, wherever THEY think they need to go. As I don't have any full time neighbours (the land around me is 'weekend retreat space' for some city folk who are, thankfully, VERY tolerant of my dogs) it is hard to convince the LGDs that they aren't supposed to guard all of what they can see. I've pretty much accepted that they'll do what they think is best, and resigned myself to trying more boundary walks once the snow has melted and we can actually GET to the fences.

    I suspect it depends a lot on what you've got for neighbours, predators, and land. The combination will indicate what will be best in your situation.
     
  12. JasoninMN

    JasoninMN Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One thing to add about donkeys. If you are using them as guardians and raising sheep you will need to sperate them during lambing or the donkey will most likely kill the lambs.
     
  13. wendle

    wendle Well-Known Member

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    When I had a small flock that was easy for the donkey to manage he did a great job. Anytime there was something he thought was danger he would round up the sheep and bray. I had an old ewe with triplets one time that was hard to get to the barn with all three lambs at once. It involved getting the ewe and one lamb up locking her up then going back for the other two. When I got back from getting the ewe up my donkey was guarding one of the lambs, just standing by it, such a sweet picture. As my flock grew so did any coyote problems so I got a llama, he did a great job for a time and still does. Now I am up to around 80 ewes and would have some coyote trouble if the sheep were split in more than one group or out in the bigger pasture. I went with guard dogs which eliminated the problem. I have one anatolian/pyr and one anatolian/maremma. Both are easy to be around, and great flock guardian dogs. I like the fact that they don't have as much hair to take care of as some of the other lgds
     
  14. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Our donkey "mothers" the lambs so yes see if you need to seperate them, but he's never tried to kill one. Good news you can seperate the donkey for a month or two and reintroduce them back and they carry on guarding. Just be sure you can manage the guard animals failings and costs, they all have them.
     
  15. flannelberry

    flannelberry Pure mischief

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    It's funny Ross. I have a friend who just had a horse with a serious birth defect - will never be a riding horse - but too nice to put down this young and she's willing to give her to moe. Perhaps that's the route we'll go. Feeding'd be nice and easy too!
     
  16. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    I have zero experience with guard dogs, so I can't offer an opinion there. However, I do know a bit about donkeys. If you do choose to go that route, be sure to use only jennies. Others on here have mentioned seperating them at lambing, and sometimes attacking what they are supposed to be guarding. I will be willing to bet that if you checked, a donkey that attacked the sheep or goats will always be a male. Even a gelded donkey will sometimes attack the flock, but jennies will not.
     
  17. flannelberry

    flannelberry Pure mischief

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    Thaks very much. I hadn't heard that before. We'll definitely keep to Jennies.

    Much appreciated.
     
  18. chicamarun

    chicamarun Well-Known Member

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    We have 2 guard llamas - 1 for the boys and 1 for the girls. They both do an excellent job - don't eat a lot and stay with the sheep.

    If the llama was gelded very young they will not mount the ewes - or you can always get a female if you are worried about it. We have an 18 year old gelding and he does just fine out there. The in-tact male is in with the rams - he's about 9 and just pretty to look at :)

    Barrel shearing isn't difficult and doesn't take a lot of time - I did it this past year myself and I had never sheared anything before. Each one took a slow novice like me about 20-30 minutes (one had a lot of fiber!)

    Look around your area and see what is available and that if you have a problem you can get answers.
     
  19. flannelberry

    flannelberry Pure mischief

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    Hi Dana

    I do have a friend who's been trying to give me a pair of llamas for ages... maybe I'll have to see how they do with stock!

    You guys are great -thanks for giving me so much to think about.
     
  20. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    I couldnt find this ASI or the list you mentioned. Do you have a link?