How small is too small? LGDs call me crazy....

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Why and Dotte, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. Why and Dotte

    Why and Dotte Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2010
    Little Rock,Arkansas
    I've been transplanted into a rural neighborhood, a couple chickens and Nigerian goat are two critters that I'd enjoy to have to make it semi bearable...but neighbourhood dogs are a known issue. My question is should I be content with a companion dog to keep these dogs at bay and pray that my training is sufficient enough to keep it from eating livestock? or would it be crazy to train a maremma for home/livestock protection? It would have 3/4 of an acre, fenced to be with the animals (finished laughing yet?)
    I've trained a border collie mutt previously to live with poultry but that was a very different dog, nearly convinced myself to forget livestock altogether would be the sensible thing t do.
  2. Tara Black

    Tara Black Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2013
    Dover DE
    We are getting a Karakachan/Pyr mix and doing the same thing, on the same amout of fenced in property. I spoke with the breeder and have visited her home and dogs, and I feel it is a perfect fit based on the breeds and her dogs personalities. When we visited her home she had 2 out in the paddocks with her goats and one patrolling freely around the chickens and rest of the house. The dog came up to great us as we got out of the car and was so sweet and calm, I instantly fell in love with her. They are great with people and the breeders kids, but take their livestock duties seriously and do their jobs. We only have chickens, and at night they get locked up in a very good predator proof coop, so we will crate the dog inside at night to curb the night time barking (we do live in a neighborhood and I don't want my neighbors complaining) but during the day she will be with the free ranging chickens. Since she will start her new job in winter, I won't have to worry about the kids distracting her from bonding with the flock, and she will be crated in our basement so she doesn't become a family dog and still focuses on her job. I just want some protection from my red tailed hawk problem though.
  3. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    A perimeter fence will be the best investment that you can have. This will go a long way with keeping neighborhood dogs at bay as well as other predators. They you can get a dog to watch over your yard/property. I would keep the chickens and goat in a fenced area away from the dog. There has been many instances that well trained dogs can mingle with chickens but it is best to have chickens, goats, and their poop in a dedicated area. Hope this helps!


  4. ken-t

    ken-t Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 6, 2013
    I agree with "4 the birds". But just FYI most states consider all poultry as livestock and dogs that harass livestock as a Rogue predator check local laws. one dog got into someone else's chickens and it cost them 40.00 per chicken in a lawsuit. I've herd of more. the sad thing is I like the people with the dog better than the Jerks with the chickens.
  5. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Quote: None of the reputable Maremma breeders I know would sell you a dog with that small an acerage.
    They really need several acres to be able to run
    They are large dogs that require lots of exercise

    I think you'd be better off with good fencing first, and maybe a mutt from the pound to have as a "yard dog"
  6. MunchiesChicks

    MunchiesChicks Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 1, 2013
    Russell Co Alabama
    My Beagles keep pretty much everyone away. They did guard duty when the chickens were out roaming and never had a predator kill and would lay there with the chickens pecking at them. We also lived on 3/4 acre and did pretty well. Sometimes big isn't always best. Smart, alert and able to alert me when there was a problem is important. One of the chickens scaled the fence and my dogs went ballistic trying to get me to come save it by barking and howling. Good luck and hope you find a solution
  7. SunnySkies

    SunnySkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2012
    A few thoughts, as a new LGD owner (I have seven acres, no sheep/goats, only poultry. Got LGDs after extreme predator pressure took half my flock).

    3/4 of an acre isn't a lot. Most LGD breeds like to wander a bit. And unless you have worked hard to train them to a radio fence or have installed an excellent perimeter fence, they will wander off your property.

    They bark. That is their job. Mine barked on and off all night up and down the fenceline bordering the woods last night. Something was out there, and their job is keeping that away.

    Most LGDs are active during the night. I tend to let mine sleep during the day and they patrol at night. Going against that defeats the purpose and can lead to unhappy LGDs. But a close neighbor would be unhappy about a large dog barking during the night.

    They will chase poultry as pups. Mine have even accidentally killed some. They loved them to death. It wasn't biting and chasing. It was catch and lick. All the LGD owners I know say to never leave babies with babies, and close supervision is required with poultry until the dog is an adult of about 2 years. I do NOT leave my dogs out with the birds during the day. They are 5-6 months old, so still babies, and can't be trusted yet. And they were born IN a chicken coop! If I am not supervising, they have a large kennel to stay in, where they sleep. My goal is to be able to leave them out 24/7, but...when they are young, and I do have to leave the farm sometimes, this is way better than letting them get away with catching and licking one of their charges to death.

    I do love having my LGDs, but I don't think they are right for every situation, and I'm not sure 3/4 of an acre is right. I'd be more inclined to fence that very well to keep out the neighborhood dogs myself. In the long run, it would be cheaper...these dogs of mine eat a 40lb bag of food every 5 days, plus flea control, heartworm meds, etc, for XL dogs costs a bit.
    2 people like this.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Consider fencing perimeter of 3/4 acre to serve as your paddock. Fencing which can be enhanced by electrified wire can be an excellent deterrent against dogs not yours. Your resources a little short to justify expenditures for a full time dog but the companion dog can still be an alarm system at night even when inside and may have very effective enforcer capabilities against nocturnal predators if you loose dog on them.

    Problem you will run into is ground will become overgrazed which with chickens means they are going to try and get to other side of fence which means being beyond your effective predator management options. That is an overwhelming consideration for me. I rotate pastures to compensate but 3/4's acre if too tight for that unless you use chicken tractor or the like. Consider fencing off some little patches chickens but not goats can get into. Can serve as cover from raptors and help keep birds away from perimeter.

    Consider running electrified poultry netting as like shown below for goats. It can contain most birds and even dog if dog not allowed to learn how to jump it. Most of the dogs we have at work are fully capable of jumping such but never learn to do so, most that is, one was just busted running amuck around my ponds. Cost a bit up front but IMO well worth it. Such can be scaled down easily to 3/4 or less and can be adjusted to allow portions of grazed area to rest.

    Fencing shown designed for goats / sheep but similar available for poultry. These setups have dogs inside.

    Same paddock from different aspect. Area encompassed is just over 1 acre but can easily be smaller. I keep juvenile flocks in little 1/10 acre paddocks where weed are allowed to grow up. Young birds stay tight in there.

    Another paddock grazed down by sheep and goats that does not have attributes my chickens like when cover is important.

    For other ideas see long thread where behavior / interactions of birds, predators, and dogs are considered. I use smaller dogs but even those cost more than flock value itself can justify. My fencing is porous to my dogs but stops dogs of others not familiar with setup and critters like raccoons and opossums that can not jump it.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  9. SunnySkies

    SunnySkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2012
    I have found a couple LGD owners with dogs on as little as 2 acres. Even they agree 3/4 of an acre is too small.
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I do not know enough to hold a position on dog area requirements but at work around about 10 dogs are moved about with herds of varying size. Most of the dogs operate singly except where does / ewes are birthing. Dogs there I think serve more as backups. Paddocks the herds are kept on vary from 1/2 acre to pushing 10 acres. The herds are moved pretty frequently, especially those on the smaller paddocks. The acreage seems to be more a function of a herd's needs and the ability of the pasture to handle grazing pressure over extended time intervals.

    Dogs kept with herds in larger paddocks like to spend at least some time away from charges and some like to run a bit although the Great Pyrenees seem less inclined to display athleticism.

    I have not seen health issues, mental or physical, associated with paddock size. Where I have seen dogs in poor shape is where care is suboptimal (not enough quality feed or protection from heat) and here plant seeds were causing issues with coat. Most battle damage has been from conflicts with other LGD's, usually of same operation. Also some such dogs are kept out beyond retirement age as imposed by what appears to be arthritis. Dogs of any sort can be expensive and living out in weather can be tough especially with extreme temperatures. Dogs I watch do not take advantage of shade provided nor do they use option when kept singly to pile up like wolves when it gets really cold. Some may be sleeping among livestock but many clearly do not.

    The smaller paddock size, to me is more a function of quality pasture for livestock. Too small an area promotes overgrazing with decreased nutritional quality of forage and increased erosion. This means number of animals that can be supported must be reduced or husbandry tends towards being a feedlot where most nutritional needs are met year round by hays and feed. With most of the smaller feedlot type setups which seems to represent the bulk of what it is with chickens, a cheaper alternative to dogs capable of handling larger predators is to simply upgrade fencing. With such an arrangement when poultry are still targeted by smaller predators, the smaller dogs can be very viable options since making fences capable of keeping little stuff out like foxes and hawks can be difficult without pricing you out of game.

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