My LGD Great Pyr Killed Chicken

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by pitter58, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. pitter58

    pitter58 Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, we are in our first 6 months of raising our chickens - living in a somewhat rural area. We have seen bobcats, hawks, owls, coyotes and about two months ago a couple chickens were taken! We believe it was a hawk but could have been the bobcat. We started and had always thought we would eventually get a Great Pyrenees but this kind of moved that up in the schedule.

    We got him about 8 weeks ago when he was 4-5 weeks old. He has been great with the chickens till about a week or so ago. He is just getting more playful and started being more engaged with the chickens - starting to chase them. He is about 12 weeks now. Every night the chickens go on in the coop on their own and right before we go to sleep we put him in with the chickens in the coop, which is a shed that is about 8x8x9' tall.

    On Saturday i looked outside and he was chomped down on one of our hens, i walked outside and said no and he stopped and cmae running. Today my wife got home and he was eating that same hen. She is unfortunately dead. I spend as much time as i can with him making sure he knows the chickens are off limits. Does anyone have any answers? I realize this is not the first time this has been posted but was wondering if since he has already eaten one - does that mean there is no way i could ever get him trained...???????

    Thanks for any input.
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    For me, what you are seeing is normal. Habit can be broken and will take some actual training. Dog will have to be disciplined in a manner consistent with your control measures. Once birds leaves them alone under your supervision then you will have to continue training where dog does not think you are watching. Dog is young and will likely be problematic for at least another year. Still keep dog in close proximity to flock so it does keeps up a familiarity with them. Pups and juveniles do cause damage as part of play, especially when playmates are delicate like a chicken or even lambs or kids (goats).. With ruminants, you keep young dogs only with adult ruminants unless a reliable adult dog can suppress the pups dalliances. Pup only with chickens is simply where you must start but you can do it. I have also employed brooding hens or even a dog-aggressive rooster to put a pup in its place but I use very capable birds and stand ready to intervene if chicken is not able to prove its point.
     
  3. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    He can be trained but...he is at the age when this is the most likely to happen and locking him in with them is inviting trouble. I would suggest a lot more research into how LGD's work and perhaps talk to a trainer as well. In LGD's, they don't necessarily see the chickens as things that must be protected, but simply see intruders as a threat that must be eliminated. So he must learn many things: the boundaries of his territory, what the threats are (coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons etc), and that the chickens are not playthings. For now it is probably best that he does not have direct access to the chickens. He can learn to defend his territory against intruding animals without the distraction of fun things to chase crossing his path. As a separate lesson, when you are present, introduce him to the chickens and offer a firm "NO" when he tries to play with them. Eventually he will learn to leave them alone while he does his job.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    To clarify, I say do not confine dog with birds until this stage is passed.
     
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  5. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    I think you jumped the gun. You should have done more research on raising an LGD. They require very strict rules and can not be put with chickens until they are full grown, or have gone past the puppy stage without killing.

    Never leave a 12 week old puppy with chickens. I wouldn't leave a 6 month old LGD with chickens. I wouldn't trust them until they went a good stretch of time without showing any interest in them at all.

    If you want the dog to get used to the chickens at night, kennel him inside the coop, so that he can not kill the chickens. During the day do not provide him with the ability to chase or kill the chickens.

    LGDs are hard to be bonded with chickens. They work better with larger livestock and the chickens are just guarded because they fall into the background and fit. This is not true with all cases. Some LGDs do bond with the chickens, but it is a tougher to seal bond.. Nothing like you'd see from a Great Pyr with sheep or goats..

    How much land do you have for this dog? Who sold you a puppy at 5-6 weeks?! That is illegal here. Dogs MUST be 8 weeks or they face a $5000 fine. I think it's a shame the puppy was taken from the mother so young.. She could have taught him a thing or two.
     
  6. SunnySkies

    SunnySkies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    He is of the age where they play with their charges and it can result in death to the charge.

    It happened to me. I have two GPs, 3 months older than yours. We had some chicks, and something clicked for my girl one day, and she ate one of my chicks. She broke into their run and caught a peeper. Ugh.

    Hasn't happened again....but I have been careful.

    Puppies are babies. They need to play! Their charges, in their minds, are dogs and can play too. But it often hurts or kills a chicken to play with a dog. So, your job right now is to keep babies from babies and supervise all chicken interactions. Period.

    So I handled this by keeping the chicks in a secure pen (in fact, they did not even get to go into a run for some weeks) and keeping the dogs kenneled when I am not around to supervise, like if I have to leave the farm or will be going inside for an extended period of time. I can't and don't trust them with the poultry, as they are only 6 months old. I keep telling myself...only 18 more months! The chickens, other than slow, stupid, incapacitated or babies, free range. So leaving the dogs out is not an option. But they are out at night.

    They are still babies too, so they can't really be depended on to protect. You are still in charge of that (although, mine have already been a huge deterrent to predators, just by being here) so you are merely setting up a situation to let the dog develop a bond with his charges and protect them from his antics. This might mean keeping the chickens in, or like us, keeping the dogs penned during the day unless supervised. Doesn't mean things won't happen...my dogs decided to try to play with a duck a couple days ago while I was watering....but I took advantage to discipline them!

    I did try a shock collar when one was very bad about catching and licking hens, but even with the longer prongs, she didn't react to the collar at all. I'd have to clip her neck I think, but she hasn't done it in weeks.

    It does work...I have a friend who has two LGDs that killed and ate several chickens in their first year, and now, they are amazing chicken protectors. She got them specifically for chickens and has not lost a chicken in over 5 years.

    Something that happens is if a charge dies, like a stillborn lamb or a chicken that dies, an LGD might eat it because dead things attract predators. While you might to be able to stop that, you can control their interactions and minimize deaths.

    If you are on FB, there are a couple good LGD groups with breeders and owners with years and years of experience with many dogs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  7. pitter58

    pitter58 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much for the feedback. For starters I would like to say I was incorrect, we got him at 8 weeks. So he is now 4 months

    We have two acres and live in Texas. The coop is opened in the morning and shut at night. We got him from a working ranch in which has for GPs two of which were this boys parents. The dad lives with the goats and the mom just roams but sleeps with the chickens. We were told by them the best way to get the puppy to bond with the chickens is to have him in the coop at night with them. Obviously this didn't work! I obviously free range the chickens but will build a large run and keep them in there for the next year or longer and then control interaction outside the coop as he gets more mature.

    Thanks again. All the feedback is valued. I hate I messed up but will definitely change it.
     
  8. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    LGD's don't make good chicken "guards", but if your'e determined to use him anyway, keep him WITH the chickens, since he won't learn anything while seperated from them.



    Get a shock collar and work with him a few days and you'll be amazed at the results



    You were told that, because they wanted to SELL you a dog, and you WANTED a dog that would "guard " chickens



    LGD's will NOT "bond " with birds like they will with goats or sheep.

    Teaching the dog to leave them alone is as close to "bonding" as you're going to get.



    And I hope your entire property is fully fenced so the dog can't roam, because 2 acres is about a 6 second sprint for an LGD who wants to run
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2013
  9. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    The shock collar worked wonders for my Great Pyr x Maremma during training. Good way to teach DROP IT and OFF and all those very important rules.

    I didn't mean separate from the birds when I suggested not to leave him with them. I meant keep him contained while in plain sight.
     
  10. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    x2. It is really important to understand these dogs, and how they work. Originally they guarded large flocks that roamed hundreds of acres, therefore, they don't take confinement very well. Two acres is a very small area for a dog whose nature is to cover hundreds, and a dog asked to confine itself to two may not be very happy. Your dog will want to roam a lot further than that - and will if you don't have fencing to contain him.

    Unfortunately too many people get LGD's to guard their poultry with disastrous results. Its not that they can't be trained to leave them alone but it is not their nature to guard them. For a small property like yours, you may have been better off with a "pet" breed of dog that is poultry safe (adopted as an adult, you can assess that far more quickly than getting a puppy). Often just the presence of a dog on the property is enough to deter predators. I have two 40lb poultry safe mutts, and their dog igloo is located in the chicken yard. During the day the birds and dogs free-range and at night the birds are locked in the coop while the dogs sleep in the igloo. In the year and a half we've had this arrangement, we haven't lost a bird to a predator.
     

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