1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Livestock guardian

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by robyn8, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    217
    10
    61
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan
    We're getting a Great Pyrenees puppy at the end of the month. I'm a veterinary technician so I'm very familiar with raising a puppy and all that goes into it but I'm not too familiar with having a livestock guardian dog specifically. Right now our small flock does not free range at all but I'd like to let them eventually. The dog will be on an invisible fence eventually as we have 10 acres and a traditional fence is not feasible. Will he sort of herd the chickens and keep them in the area he's allow in? What age can we reasonably expect him to do his job?
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    LGDs are not herding dogs, so no, he will not keep your chickens in a certain area....if he does try to herd or chase them, that's a big no, no. They also are not real tuned into guarding of chickens as they relate more to sheep, goats, etc. and are hardwired to protect such animals.

    You can expect him to guard a certain piece of land that the chickens live on and even foil predator attacks on the chickens but you'll have to do some training on chickens to get him to not play with or harm them himself, just as you would if you were training him on other types of livestock. If he's not been raised with other dogs performing that same job, then he'll need even more training.

    You can reasonably expect him to do his job after you train him on how you expect him to act towards the chickens....the rest of his job is just built in, though you may have to correct him on barking at things that are not really a threat at times...that's something they would normally learn from their older dog pack.

    Here's a great place where you can ask specific questions about these breeds and get good answers, though most of those folks don't use them on chickens. These folks raise these breeds and are super nice. It's a sister site to BYC, so you can always find a link to the site at the bottom of each page here on BYC: https://www.backyardherds.com/forums/livestock-guardians.75/

    Here's a thread of mine over there about training a LGD breed pup on chickens, if it helps: https://www.backyardherds.com/threads/the-education-of-ben.31911/
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    16,227
    1,202
    426
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri

    He will not bond with chickens as typical with livestock, rather you will be using a lesser valued tendency to defend real estate. He will not herd, but will in all likelihood mall them them. Allow him to see her and smell them but do not allow him with birds without supervision. Get on him for being bad only when he does. I try to get new dog interested in other stimuli while in the presence of chickens and make so he sees that do not interest you either. Do not chase or handle birds in front of him. Do not hold it against him for harming / killing a bird as he can easily outgrow that. He will be a good 18 months if not 2 years before you can trust him with the chickens. At less than a year he will be able to repel many ground threats. Watch out for Mr. Fox and possibly Coyote as they can learn to use fence against dog. My dogs are faster than yours yet still takes two to keep Red Fox out of chickens.
     
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I disagree with nearly all of that and have the dogs to prove it. I've never had one of my LGD breeds or mixes maul a bird. I've also let them be with the birds unsupervised as quickly as I could(2 mo. old)....you'll never know how they behave when you are not around until you create the situation for them. I handle the birds in front of him the very first day, as I use one for a training tool. Both pups I've trained on chickens were trustworthy from the first day of training on them, which was the first day they ever saw a chicken. Locate your coop at the center of his electric boundary and he'll be more than capable of keeping foxes and coyotes out of the coop...that doesn't take speed, it takes vigilance.

    As I said, go visit the LGD people and they'll be able to guide you. For specifics on training your pup on chickens, you can visit my thread there...that's what it was created for.
     
  5. LadyVictorian

    LadyVictorian Chillin' With My Peeps

    456
    55
    98
    Dec 22, 2016
    Minnesota
    My chicken guardian was a barbados sheep ram. We hand raised him from a lamb and fixed him young so he didn't get too aggressive but he did hang out with the chickens and he would run off anything getting near them. Our miniature horses pretty much did the same thing too but they will also nip at a chicken if they think it's too close to their food where as the sheep would share his food dish with the chickens. Having known my dogs, even my herding breeds I wouldn't have trusted them with chickens. In fact my neighbors dog was a LGD (goats) and when it came into our yard it killed my Polish hen Somba I use to have, my dogs killed ducks, and another smaller dog ripped tail feathers out of our RSL hen Tiki. I did catch my sheep Laces once driving off a little Pomeranian who was chasing my RSL hen Tiki though. He head butt the little sucker and sent him rolling. The dog went yipping off back to his yard. Apparently he had dug out of his back fence but never came into my yard again. I never had a predator problem while I had my sheep and actually my chicken didn't get eaten until after he had passed away from old age. I'm thinking of getting another ram or buck as soon as I get new chicks and what luck one of my coworkers pygmy goats just had twins, both boys. Here's hopping one of them is my new 'chicken guard.'

    Also some people would say sheep/goats probably wouldn't bond with poultry but since they are social creatures when raised solo they attach to other social animals, mine was attached to my miniature horses and hen. In fact it wasn't rare to see the hen sitting on his back during the day and 'riding' on him and he always followed her around the yard. When he passed away the hen attacked us when we tried to move his body out of the barn and she was laying on top of him pecking at his ears and talking to him (he passed in his sleep so he looked like he was still just sleeping). It was really sad. Anyone else have good luck with sheep, goats, or miniature horses or donkey's as good poultry guards or did I just get lucky with my Lay Lay boy?
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    16,227
    1,202
    426
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    @Beekissed

    Mam, with all do respect. I am sitting in the middle of a research farm that uses LGDs to defend sheep and goat herds. The pups are allowed to when very small to hang out with adult livestock to get the bonding process going. As pups get bigger, either interaction is controlled by mature adult dogs that suppress pups rough play with stock or pups which means up to nearly two years are watched closely to make certain they do not get into trouble. Even then foxes can hunt in fields with dog present when area dog defends is between 4 and 20 acres. If dog only needs to defend perimeter of flock enclosed by something keeping dog out then threat to chickens at any stage is not an issue.

    Chickens are a lot tougher than to protect as they do not cooperate by forming a herd that might actually run up to LGD. Also assumed the chickens would have a free-range component.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I know a lady who had a painted desert whether that guarded her chickens....even killed a possum that came into their territory. Folks say all kinds of things about this or that animal and what it will or will not do, but until a person tries it, they can't say for certain that it can't happen. Even then, each animal is different, so one dog or sheep will guard while another cannot be trusted to do so.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    16,227
    1,202
    426
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Here are my not so polished approaches to training / breaking in dogs as poultry guardians. I use fences and interact with my dogs and poultry more than many as have a keen interest in their behavior they have with each other and wildlife. My dog / chicken co-culturing experience started back in the 1970's and until recently was not as a concerted effort and certainly not one that was related to others. I could get system to work but did not really have a handle on why. Last few years effort has been more serious and I make efforts to talk with others using dogs in a similar capacity. Clearly each dog is different. It is fun when all is said and done.

    First deals with German Pointers where they can catch the fox.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/426408/planned-poultry-guarding-dog

    Second has one German Pointer and an English Shepherd representing breed I am switching over to in an effort to take path more worn. With time I will have a second English shepherd and have a small number of sheep and goats on my tiny 18 acres of bush.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1008645/english-shepherd-as-poultry-guardian
     
  9. robyn8

    robyn8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    217
    10
    61
    Mar 21, 2016
    Dexter, Michigan
    Thanks for all the input!
     
  10. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

    438
    78
    88
    Dec 6, 2015
    Mora, NM USA
    Having watched a lot of this throughout my time on Earth, and having read the whole thread, my thoughts are: I believe guarding to be a talent, sort of like singing, or playing the piano. Some people have a passion for it and are amazingly good at it. Some can learn, but are indifferent at best; some just don't "click" with it, and so on.

    I know a family with a donkey and that donkey regularly chases a BEAR out of the pasture. On the other hand I've known of a donkey that just stood by and watched another animal slaughtered by dogs... I've known excellent guardian dogs, and others who turned on their charges one night and killed them. (In more than one case, those were alpacas, so that was an expensive night for those people.) They are all just as individual and different as any human beings you have ever met. Just as we all don't love cooking, or beekeeping, guarding is not the preferred job for all dogs.

    It takes a lot of work to train a guardian dog but it can sure be done. I think the people who have the best success either have another dog to help keep the youngster in line, or else work at home and can frequently observe the pup and correct it when the wrong behavior happens. It will be a labor of love. I wish you the best of luck in this. I hope your pup works out well for you.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by