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a closer look @ our livestock guardian dogs

Hard-working, protective, helpful?  Or relaxing, lazy, sun-soakers?  These are our two livestock guardian dogs and they really do work hard, protect our property and animals and are super helpful.  As Great Pyrenees, they are also nocturnal by nature which is why we see plenty of this snoozing in the shade during daylight.  However, at night, they are an asset to our farm in immeasurable ways.

We chose Charlie and Mara as our guardian dogs due to their"I get extra pay for these turkeys, right?"

  • docile nature with people as we have many visitors to the farm
  • natural instinct to protect and guard
  • needing a new home, we adopted them out of an Arkansas home that no longer needed/wanted them

 When they first arrived on our farm, we had to teach them their new property.  Charlie, then 18 months old, who had been kept on a chain his whole life, reveled in the joy of 40 acres.  Being a puppy, Mara learned as she grew.  Jeff took them for walks around the perimeter several times each week.  They joined us for chores and learned the routines of the animal rotations.  We invested in an electric fence that surrounds our property to reinforce the boundaries when we are not in the pastures.  The dogs wear transmitters on their collars and get a warning beep when they are within a few feet of a fence.  If they were to approach the fenceline, they would get a small shock.  They quickly learned to give fences a wide berth and also to stay on our property.  We want them safe from cars and other dogs and we also want to ensure that they are not causing any problems for our neighbors.

Our LGDs patrol the farm, particularly at night, to keep predators away.  It is really cool to watch them in action as they really seem to 'come alive' during the night.  They actively patrol separate from each other, but call for each other when needed.  This winter, Jeff was doing a late night piglet check and witnessed the dogs in action.  Charlie had cornered a racoon and gave a distinct bark.  Within seconds, Mara came tearing thru the woods, ready to protect.  Charlie and Mara protect our animals from racoons, skunks, possums (all three common chicken predators), cats, coyotes and other dogs.  Who knows what else they have scared away?

They're not perfect of course...they've killed a few chickens as they 'played', occasionally test the boundaries, and eat eggs if they can get access to them (I was so mad at Charlie on one of our early farm days when he opened and ate the whole dozen of eggs I had proudly gathered).  Most of these issues are management issues on our end and we have addressed them as they arise.  We are learning how to be good LGD owners.  We've had very few predator issues and we think it is largely from the presence of our LGDs.  It takes a lot of training, but we find it is worth the effort.  We are very glad to have Charlie and Mara as a part of Synergistic Acres.

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Reader Comments (2)

We are anticipating using LGDs on our farm, but I'm curious... how noisy are your dogs at night? Does their barking keep your family (or your neighbors) awake? I love the idea of having LGDs and think they would be a wonderful addition to a sustainable farm enterprise, but wonder how "convenient", for lack of a better term, you find them.

Our LGDs are not noisy really. Yes, they bark, but it is with purpose and only when needed. They don't bark incessantly like some city dogs I know. They do not wake any of us up and our neighbors are not bothered by them (they all have dogs, too). I wonder if on less acreage, there might be more issues with barking at miscellaneous sounds? The LGDs are not necessarily 'convenient' as they require a fair bit of training and attention to be a good LGD, but we definitely think they are a helpful addition to our farm.

I hope you find your future farm site soon!

April 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterFarmer Hamons

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