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Protecting the Herd Isn't Easy
When we moved to our ranch in the year 2000 we noticed a lot of coyote and feral dog pack activity. When we got goats, the activity really increased. We needed a way to protect our animals and we needed it FAST! David located an available LGD (livestock guardian dog) in Texas and made the long trip there and back as quickly as possible. At that time we had over 20 coyotes a day circling our livestock pens! The new dog, Blue, was awesome. He was a 5 year old Anatolian Shepherd and he sure knew his job. We had no more coyote/dog problems. But, the new problem was that Blue was exhausted from all the work he was doing. We had to find him a partner!
Kira, another Anatolian, came to work for us. She and Blue formed a partnership and really did a great job. Having a pair of working guardians is an awesome thing. We could sleep soundly while the dogs did most of the work.
But that was years ago and both dogs are gone now. We tried replacing them with high priced Anatolians which didn't work out due to their lack of bonding with the herd. We tried lower priced Great Pyrenees that felt their job was to dig out of the fencing and protect the neighbors cats instead (even though the neighbor was 5 miles away!). We really wanted dogs that would protect the herd and not feel the need to wander (wandering is a notorious Great Pyrenees trait). The time, purchase price, food bill, and vet costs that we put into these dogs only to have them NOT do the job we wanted, is truly heartbreaking.
After years of working with supposedly "Livestock Guardian Dog" stock and not having any luck, we finally found some Anatolians that actually LOVE their goat herd and stay with it no matter where the goats go. No more "LGD's" digging under the fence to wander off, no more "LGD's" eating the poultry they were supposed to protect. These Anatolians really do the job.
That's when I realized that not all LGD's are created equal. Some love their job, others look for something different. The LGD's we have now are TRUE Livestock Guardians. We can now sleep soundly at night once again.
Here are the introductions...
Kailin is a hard worker. She patrols the property and really takes offense when the coyotes take up howling too close by. Kailin works up close with the goat herd, keeping everyone safe while the other LGD's go on patrol. Kailin was born January, 2010.
Little did we suspect when Anatolian Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) Mattie came to work here in November of 2011 that she had a secret. However as the weeks went by we eventually guessed that secret. On January 3rd, 2012 Mattie took some time off from guarding her goat herd to whelp 9 beautiful, healthy puppies. Mattie was a great mom and did a wonderful job of teaching her pups how to be LGD's. They have all gone to new homes now and are working very nicely.
Mattie patrols the 280 acre property several times a day and has even taught Ranger to help with that job.
We have brought a new critter into the operation – an English Shepard puppy named Kingman. Kingman’s job will be to hunt the prairie dogs that are trying to take over the ranch. So far he isn’t much interested in hunting, but he has settled in amazingly well with the various animals and is a very silly fella. He and goat Opal seem to enjoy each other’s company.
Our barn cats work hard to keep the rats, mice, and birds out of the animal feed. The loss of feed when cats aren't around can be 10% or higher. Plus the rodents make a real mess of things. Having cats around keeps the feed safe and clean.
Our barn cats aren't neglected or left unfed as some people do. We feel that to leave the cats on their own to find dinner just isn't a fair way to treat them. These cats love to catch the "bad guys" even if they don't need them as food. They reward us with doing a great job of keeping the barns free of vermin and they still love to have their bellies rubbed or heads scratched.
Friends No Longer Here
Blue (7/8/97 - 11/2011)
Blue, DOB 7/8/97 is our hard-working 75 lb. male Anatolian Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). Purchased from a fantastic breeder/trainer in Texas in late January of 2002, Blue took immediately to our goat herd (his charges) and has been fiercely protective of his territory from all types of predators. We've seen him really in action and he is awesome.
12/09 Update: Blue has been a terrific dog. He has fiercely protected his goat herd and has kept them safe against dog packs and coyotes. But Blue is over 12 years old now and enjoying a bit of well deserved retirement. He sleeps through the day curled up in the doe barn and helps the younger dogs out at night if the "bad guys" get too close.
11/11 Update: Blue is still with us! He totters around the barn yard and feels that he needs to meet everyone that comes to the ranch. He is well over 14 years old now and his battle wounds are taking a toll on him. Blue has been a very important part of our ranch and he still makes us smile as he goes about his business.
12/11/11 Update: Blue was a wonderful worker and friend and will be missed greatly now that he has passed on. Not one single goat was lost to predators during his time here, though he almost lost his life several times defending them. Blue, you will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Bosco (2/8/00 - 10/27/10)
Bosco, DOB 2/8/00 is the perpetual baby and our "all-purpose ranch dog". He's a black lab mix with a innate ability to be able to figure out any situation and do exactly what he's asked to. He loves to run constantly for miles and miles at a time and chasing jack rabbits is a favorite past time. He has greatly improved his skill at getting through barbed wire during his time here - he had more than 25 stitches in various places over his body during his first few months here (but none at all for a while). In 11/01 we purchased a veterinary skin stapler in anticipation of Bosco's next major boo-boo but he has delighted us for having not had to use it... yet.
The one thing that Bosco does NOT understand is not to jump into strangers cars. He loves to do that and has now found homes at three other places, the last time for several months before we could track him down! We are very glad to have him back.
12/09 Update: Bosco is almost 10 years old now and definitely slowing down. He has a touch of arthritis and a lot of grey hair. Instead of running for miles now he much prefers to ride in the Polaris Ranger. Even though he has his own private dog bed in the back of the ranger, his favorite place is riding in the front seat right between his people.
10/28/10 Bosco developed a cough about a month ago and really started losing weight. Tests showed that it was probably cancer. Bosco died in his sleep last night. Bosco was buried here on the ranch along with his favorite stick. He will be missed tremendously.
Kaylee (1/1/06 - 4/10)
DOB 1/1/2006: Kaylee is a purebred Anatolian that came here as a puppy. She is now well over 100 pounds. She is friendly and good natured, but is learning to take her job guarding the goats very seriously. When Kaylee has just a youngster, she spotted a pack of dogs on our property. She wanted to play, but the dogs tore her up pretty well. She came home and hid for several days. When she recovered from the shock, we could see that she had learned a big lesson. Since that time, Kaylee has been a great protector of her herd and won’t make that mistake again.
12/09 Update: Kaylee has been the key guardian dog on our team ever since Blue started to slow down last year. She goes out on patrol and leaves the boys home to guard the herd. This summer we noticed that Kaylee was losing weight, slowing down, and sleeping a lot. Sadly, she has been diagnosed with a heart disease and will only be with us a short time longer. Though still thin and not feeling well, she still goes out on patrol, sounds alerts when trouble is near, and dearly loves her goats. We will miss her enormously when she is gone.
4/10 Update: Kaylee was a trooper right up until the end, but her heart and lungs just couldn't sustain her any longer. She did a great job for us in her short 4 years here. Thanks, Kaylee, we sure do miss you.
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