GUARDIAN DOGS ARE LIKE A NEW PHD PROFESSOR AT A UNIVERSITY
They come to you with all the genetic know how that has been passed down for many generations in their breed. BUT….. like a new professor at a university, they have to learn everything about this new place where they will be working: the rules, getting to know the ones they will nurture, safety, relationships with their fellow humans and others, and the limits of their environment.
WE ARE ALL ABOUT SHARING! TOGETHER WE ARE TRANSITIONING TO THE FUTURE OF FARMING.
Here Abby and Jake from the Applecreek Farm in Bowdoinham, Maine share ~
We’re adding a new member of our farm team for this season. In the job description you’ll find requirements such as an attention to detail, a big bark, a thick coat and an ability to work from 6 pm to 5 am daily.
Who is this new employee? A Great Pyrennes pup! She’s been raised alongside goats and chickens at a farmstead in Massachusetts and will be joining us in March. This photo of the whole litter (below) may give you the same sense of excitement we have!
Our new girl will have her work cut out for her. Our latest blog post entitled, Who Else Lives on the Farm is about some of the other critters that call Apple Creek home and the recent uninvited guests who have been calling up on our hens! We have plenty of land and it can support an abundance of wildlife, but we’re finding it more and more challenging to ensure our animals stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors.
As you know our broilers, laying hens and turkeys are outside every day and while this is critical to our farming philosophy and their innate desires — it makes them susceptible to predation. Our new pup will be trained as an LGD or Livestock Guardian Dog in order to spend her days (and nights) patrolling the fields and deterring owls, hawks and other would-be predators. In doing so we’ll have happy, healthy animals that thrive outdoors and we’ll sleep better at night knowing everyone is safe.
This is the case we made to Food Animal Concerns Trust, FACT as part of our application for their Fund-A-Farmer grant. I’m happy to report they agreed! The grant award will offset the purchase and first year “start-up” expenses of our new canine. This is our second grant award, our first helped us install water lines in two of our fields ensuring clean, fresh water for all animals.
He lives in Maine in the United States. But his ancestors are from Turkey. They have for centuries been the guardians of sheep, working alongside their shepherds. Sharing here a short video of the life they continue to live there. Note the relationship they have with their shepherds, and how the very young pups are incorporated into the flock along with their adult companions. Note the spiked collars the adult dogs wear for their protection. Click below:
Wanting to share a true life happening that took place last week during the destructive California fires
ODIN a Great Pyrenees guardian dog refused to leave the baby goats he had been guarding, despite the explosions, heat, and the fast moving fire that forced his family to evacuate. The family returned, finding their way past police barricades and still dangerous areas, intent on seeking Odin and the goats…..with thoughts that they were all lost to the fire. But once back they found Odin weak, whiskers singed, limping, his white fur all yellow and burned paws with the small goats surrounding him. Not only that…..young deer sought Odin’s protection as well.
THIS IS THE COURAGE OF GUARDIAN DOGS. THY WILL SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES FOR THOSE THEY ARE TO PROTECT.
*Odin will have a full recovery, thanks to his caring family
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.