Duane Urch free ranges his birds in Summer and Fall. I asked him once how he keeps them from predators? He said, "Get yourself a Black and Tan Coonhound and they won't let anything come around." Personally, I don't like the sound of a coonhound baying, so I skipped that and put up fences.
You on the other hand, probably did yourself the best favor and didn't even know it!
Dixie came before the farm but she is a natural farm dog. She was never around other hounds growing up so I don't think she knows how to howl/bay really which is ok with me.
her nose is sharp though. Ive turned her on the trail of coons when ive seen them around the farm last spring and she found their trail even with no formal training.