I recently came home with a new puppy. He will hopefully be a guardian to poultry, goats and sheep on our place in the country. I just started socializing him with our laying hens and it is quite an experience for me. I have trained bird dogs and other dogs in obedience but never trained a dog to guard livestock. Not knowing much about the breeds nor training I started searching for resources from which I could glean knowledge from other's experiences. I ran across the following book, ordered and read it over a period of several days and was amazed at all the information embedded in the book.
I have always done pretty well at keeping most predators under control by conventional means. The biggest problem we now have is that we have an explosion of coyote and coyote dog hybrids in parts of the country and they make life for sheep and goats very dangerous indeed. Just one pack can come though and wipe out a year's profit on a small place in one night. The other major problem is for those that free range poultry. Before the mid 1970s raptor populations were not high and in fact some were at dangerously low levels due to pesticides in the Eco-system. The government put a blanket protection in effect on raptors so poultry raisers could no longer take a problem hawk or owl out of the equation. With blanket protection and the outlawing of many poisons the raptor population has rebounded and then some. Quail in many parts of Texas are hammered constantly by Coopers and other hawks. You can no longer find rabbits in certain areas of the State. To run free ranging poultry in our part of the State would be setting up an all you can eat buffet for hawks and owls without some sort of protection. Thus the use of livestock guardian dogs to guard free ranging livestock and poultry in the Old World tradition. All over the State ranchers and farmers are having success in protecting sheep, goats, poultry and other livestock from predators using trained livestock guardian dogs. I recently visited a sustainable farm and livestock operation near us that has almost eliminated livestock and poultry losses with the use of livestock guardian dogs.
This book is a comprehensive how to guide on picking and training a livestock guardian to at best eliminate and for sure reduce predation losses on your livestock. It covers the many predators and methods of control. The breeds of livestock protection dogs are covered along with training. It also covers other options such as llamas and guard donkeys. All in all I was very impressed with the book and can highly recommend it. The best online price I found was at Amazon, you can click on the link below to read the reviews or purchase the book if you like.
Livestock Guardians by Janet Vorwald Dohner
I ended up with a Maremma/Pyrenees cross puppy. At six weeks we started socializing him with the layer hens. At first it was kind of a stand off but now they are feed pan buddies. He gets upset if I go into the chicken run and do not let him come to check on the girls. These Livestock Guardian Dogs are worth checking out,