OUR FARMERS ARE DAILY NEEDING TO LEARN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO CARE FOR AND SUPPORT
GUARDIAN DOGS IN THE IMPORTANT ROLE THEY PLAY
Below is a link to a valuable facebook group “Learning about LGDs” Very experienced breeders and long time owners of these guardians often answer questions that are posed. One of those is Jan Dohner, who we have highlighted here on our Network. It is good to have a place to go to support each other.
IT IS WINTER TIME ~ A challenging time to farm; also a LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLE for wild carnivores.
It is important for you to know that carnivores walk this line of survival, that they are often on the edge of starvation in the winter.
That is why Guardian Animals are such an important part of your team in the winter. Note the photo above, taken by Billy Foster of the Foster Farm in Maine. Though his fencing is excellent, the deep snow would allow a carnivore to jump over it with ease.
BUT ~ His guardian dogs are present, and have been present all year. There is an UNDERSTANDING between them and the Coyote family who live on his farm. Note the Coyote tracks that REMAIN on the outside of the fence.
SO ~ if you are thinking about acquiring one of these amazing guardians for your farm, the following are some questions and thoughts to think about and research this winter:
Do your homework first
Do you need one at all/do you need more than one…why or why not
When should you use a Llama or donkeys instead of a guardian dog?
What makes a Guardian dog, a guardian dog?
What breed is right for you…differences in breeds?
What does a guardian dog do for your farm?
How to acquire a Guardian dog (breeders)
What is the role of a good breeder?
The importance of good fencing for your guardians
When and how to introduce them to the farm animals and farm
If ever you wanted to do research regarding the Guardian Dog that is right for your farm, this newly published book by Jan Dohner will be of great assistance to you. It is one of those books you would want to keep as a reference because it is packed with valuable information.
An Excellent opportunity to come learn about farming successfully with Carnivores will take place at THE COMMON GROUND FAIR in Unity, Maine on September 24 and 25.
At 1:00 PM on Saturday, the 24th we will host a panel of two outstanding farmers, Dave Kennard and Billy Foster, noted author and breeder of Kangals Jan Dohner, and Wildlife biologist and author Geri Vistein. Last year the tent was packed as we shared together in a lively discussion, our experience and knowledge. Our audience was amazing, jumping right in and asking excellent questions and expressing what has been happening on their farm.
Then, at 2:00 PM Jan Dohner will go more into depth about all the important issues regarding the decision to find a guardian dog, and then when they come to your farm…then what? Her new book Farm Dogs is just being released on time for the Fair, and her excellent 2007 book Guardian Animals: Using Dogs, Llamas and Donkeys to Protect your Herd is highly recommended She will also speak on Sunday, the 25th at 1:00 PM
SO COME IF YOU CAN! MUCH TO LEARN AND GREAT SUPPORT AWAITING YOU!
Guardian Dogs know what their work is about. They don’t need the farmer to teach them that.
BUT ~ when they are new to your farm, there is much for them to learn about the specifics of YOUR farm. It is exremely important that you take the time to teach them…..if you want them to be successful guardians.
The following is shared by Jackie Church of Windance Farm in Upper State New York. She is a responsible breeder of Maremma Guardians, and shares her knowledge and experience in a Manual she has written for farmers. Here is one section on introducing your guardian to your farm.
Setting your Dog up for Success
You must set your dog up to succeed. This applies to a new adult dog, and to the brand new young puppy that arrives at your farm.
You need to know what to expect from your dog and what ages you can expect it. Some dogs are exceptions in both the negatives and positives. You may have a dog that could never fail, no matter what you did. Then you have others who take longer to mature, and make you scratch your head more than anything in your life.
Again, what you put into this dog – is exactly what you will get out of this dog. If you toss a dog in the pasture alone, then you will get exactly what you are putting into it. Yes, the dog may (and an adult should) know how to keep predators out, mark the boundaries and bark.
But all the rest? The relationship it should have with the stock, with you, what the boundaries are, where and what – all that the dog does not know.
In all of the old world countries that use guardian dogs, they do not run just one dog. They work the dogs in teams. There is a smattering of ages –from some old dogs to very young dogs.
The older mature dogs that know their jobs are the teachers of these young pups. This is done by example and correction. If you take a young pup and place it in the field without an adult dog who knows the ropes –then YOU become the teacher. YOU become the mentor. YOU become the one to provide the instruction. If you do not, any failure of the dog is not because of the dog, but because of the lack of guidance and training.
A successful livestock guardian dog, like this adult Great Pyrenees, is an invaluable member of your farm. There are important actions that you can take to help them be successful. In the link below, Cat Urbigkit, a successful rancher in Wyoming, who uses guardian dogs to protect her sheep, offers 12 of those key factors. Valuable information coming from years of experience!
Our Chickens are by far the most vulnerable to predation by our carnivores,
especially when the carnivore in question is being subjected to human persecution.
HERE IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO OBTAIN A VALUABLE GUARDIAN DOG
THROUGH THEFOOD ANIMAL CONCERNS TRUST
FACT | Food Animal Concerns Trust
FACT is delighted to announce another free opportunity for poultry farmers — the chance to receive a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) puppy and participate in an immersion training session! New this year, FACT is partnering with a current Fund-a-Farmer grant recipient to place four LGD puppies with selected poultry farmers who raise their birds humanely (one of seven certifications is required). These selected farmers will receive a LGD puppy and attend a free weekend training session this summer in Wisconsin, along with additional educational resources and expert technical assistance throughout the year. FACT’s LGD webpagefor more information.
On May 20 of this year, some very fortunate people came together in Rockport, Massachusetts to learn more about these amazing Guardian Dogs ~ the Kangals. They are an ancient breed in their homeland of Turkey, and have been protecting the shepherds flocks from predators for centuries..Now we have them here as well.
We were all so fortunate to learn from Stuart Richens of the Banks Mountain Farm in North Carolina. She and her husband Bob, carefully breed these amazing Kangals. She shared that Temperament and Health are what they are selecting for, resulting in a trustworthy and stable dog. When their pups are 6 weeks old, they go out to pasture with their goats, and are carefully watched over. They want their dogs to not only be great guardians, BUT also to have a HAPPY AND HEALTHY life. They are very careful as to who is “worthy” of purchasing one of their dogs..Any responsible farmer also would have it no other way. To learn more about them, you can go to their website: www.BanksMountainFarm.com
HERE ARE A FEW MORE PHOTOS OF THE KANGALS THAT WE SHARED THE DAY WITH ~
Mary McGuire, an experienced and excellent breeder of Great Pyrenees Guardian dogs shares this night time event on here farm. It is actually an excellent time of the year to share this event, as Coyote pups will be born soon in April and May….Spring time. Listen carefully to her words ~ she is successful and happy in all she does, because she understands the world of the Coyote, and respects it. Life is good OR as we say in Maine “The way Life should be!”
“ I just spent the hours between 3AM and 5 AM listening to a couple of my Pyrenees kicking up quite a ruckus. It is Spring and time for all good coyote parents to hunt for their new pups. Of course this can at times really anger the Pyrenees who are in charge of our south barn and pasture.
There is a nice little stream that runs thru the pasture on the other side of their fence and many nights the coyotes travel down that stream looking for late night snacks. Since their hunting duties are much heavier during this time of the year it can cause them to take more chances than usual. Most of the time the coyotes stay far away from that area but hunger does cause the predators to gamble a bit. On this particular night, I got the chance to hear Justus and Kate (my Great Pyrenees Guardian dogs)first warn the coyotes to “get away” and then go into full voice “get the heck out of here” mode as the coyotes came closer. The yips of the coyotes seemed so tiny when compared to the huge full throated barks of this pair. They would run from one end of the field to the other up a big hill and then down to the bottom that borders the creek quite closely. I could almost hear their huge feet pounding the ground as they ran barking right past my bedroom window. This is the closest field to the house so it does give me the chance to observe these two patrol, and then go into full defense voice. It is so nice to just listen with no fear of any loss of sheep or chickens. They are an intact breeding pair, who are quite devoted to each other. Each Pyrenees works very hard at their job but also loves to play with their partner and then lay quietly with the sheep in the afternoon sun. This is a much nicer way to protect my livestock and also enjoy a beautiful dog do the job they were bred to do. It certainly is better than trying to shoot or trap or poison the coyotes. Meanwhile the predators can keep the groundhogs in limits along with a few other “varmints”. Nature can do the job if we just allow it to do so.”