LGD advice

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by BirdOfPray, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. BirdOfPray

    BirdOfPray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 29, 2010
    Hi y'all,

    I'm here with yet another change in circumstances. Last time I posted, I was stuck with an HOA that wouldn't allow chickens so we were looking into rabbits. Things happened and now we're living on 14 acres shared with my parents with plans to get cows, chickens, rabbits, and bees. Definitely a pleasant surprise. :) We don't have critters yet because we're waiting for the financial dust to settle and figure out what we can afford when. But in the meantime, we've seen significant evidence of possums, coons, and some good-sized coyotes as well as owls and red-tailed hawks. We're definitely going to have predator problems.

    I've been thinking the best solution might be a livestock guardian dog. While browsing to see what sort of options we might have, I ran across a 1-year-old Akbash needing to be rehomed due to issues with lambs and some other circumstances (owner isn't on site, senior dog meant to mentor this one now has medical problems preventing that). Other than that specific issue, she sounds like a great dog. We don't plan to have sheep or goats -- our fencing isn't suitable for those. The dog is fine with cows and calves, but hasn't been exposed to poultry. The owner is willing to let us bring her home on trial and see if she'd work out for us. I'm home full-time and would be able to put time into acclimating the dog to chickens when we get them. I also have friends with poultry who I'm sure would let me bring a dog to see how she reacts on a leash or the other side of a fence. But it could be a few months before we have chickens, depending on a number of factors.

    Is it worth potentially bringing a dog home ahead of the stock? I might be jumping the gun, but it seems like a good chance to get a near-adult guardian dog that may be hard to find later. I don't really want to start with a puppy. Our just-a-pet Border Collie is finally growing out of the puppy stage and I don't want to go there again anytime soon! It sounds like this dog is overall good at her work -- she kills rats and possums and other vermin and is generally great with her stock, but for whatever reason was a little too rough with a couple of newborn lambs. Adoption fee would be a great deal, but of course there'd be the expense of keeping her and we need to set up shelter and an enclosure for times when I can't supervise her before she's fully trustworthy, so there's definitely cost involved.

    Other options are that we can wait and later look for an adult LGD through rescue, Craigslist, or a breeder, or we could try finding a dog from the shelter who would ignore chickens and chase predators.

    Any thoughts? I'd be grateful. This is new territory for me, although I've done a lot of reading.

    Robyn
     
  2. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 16, 2015
    Desert Hills, AZ
    It might work out ok. I have a very intelligent Australian Shepherd but I can't leave him around my birds - his hunting instincts are just too strong. My experience has been the best defense against predators is to keep my birds in secure coops/runs. If you want to let them range a bit I read that electric fencing works good and is relatively inexpensive. The other option is just to let them range and accept the fact that you'll have some losses - it's par for the course with chickens. Heck, even when you keep them secure they drop off occasionally due to health issues, etc. I always just assume 20% losses when figuring out how many I want to end up with but most of the time I have few if any losses.
     
  3. BirdOfPray

    BirdOfPray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 29, 2010
    Yeah, this is why the Border Collie isn't getting the job. ;) We'll see how she does, but she's a little fixated on movement so I suspect she won't be around the chickens unsupervised.

    We may very well end up keeping the chickens in a fenced run, but when I was growing up we had chickens taken from our seemingly secure coop at night so I'm hesitant to count on fencing alone. Actually, I'd been thinking that if the dog won't acclimate to chickens, maybe the dog just patrols outside the fenced chicken run to give predators less opportunity to try and get in.

    Mostly, what I'm wondering is whether finding an almost-adult semi-trained LGD would be something we should jump on now because we're not likely to find it again. This one is close to 2 years old, which I hear is the earliest you should start to expect reliability. It'd be awfully nice to skip most of those first two years. I have friends who are struggling with their adolescent Anatolians killing poultry and trying to decide whether to stick it out or cut their losses. I think I could be more hands-on than they're able to be, but it's still disheartening to see.
     
  4. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 16, 2015
    Desert Hills, AZ
    Just my opinion but I'm totally confident in a secure coop as long as it's built right. I have a lot of every predator known to man and haven't lost a bird to one yet (knock knock). Just be sure to use hardware cloth (1/2") or fencing over top of poultry wire and either dig it down at least 18" or make a skirt that's at least 2' out from the bottom. Also make sure you don't have any gaps or openings more than about 1/2" that a coon could reach through or a weasel could squeeze through. If you do that I think you'll be just fine.
     

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