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Predator Control July 10, 2006

Posted by Laura in Uncategorized.
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klondikkecloseup7-09-06.JPG

I think we have mentioned in previous postings that we have had some trouble with predators, or more accurately, the chickens have had that trouble. Neighbor dogs get word of the buffet of slow-witted flightless birds and get in line to partake. We have tried various means of deterring them, but none have been completely effective.

We built the chickens a fenced yard so they could scratch and get sunshine in safety. That “sort of” worked- some can get just enough clearance by fly-hopping to get over the fence, which means keeping up with feather trimming on dozens of birds. But, the flock quickly grew until there were really too many to confine to that small a yard anyway.

We built one chicken tractor with intentions of building more, but that hasn’t happened yet. There are many benefits to that system (safety of the birds, fertilizing the pasture, no chicken “calling cards” on the porch, etc.), but each can only hold so many chickens and many more tractors are needed.

Our two dogs are no help with the problem either. They are glorified porch ornaments who specialize in squirrel and skunk chasing, not predator control.

Donkeys are very good guardian animals, but our search for one has been futile thus far. They are very good at keeping predators out of the pastures they are in, so that may cut down on the dogs able to cross to the chicken buffet. We would also like to get cattle, hogs, and maybe sheep or goats soon, so a donkey guardian would be helpful for them.

To solve our problem, we decided to look into a guardian dog. Unlike herding dogs, these dogs live among the animals they protect, but do not try to move them or corral them. They have a naturally protective instinct for smaller and weaker animals. The most available breed is the Great Pyrenees.

I located a lady in Dickson, TN who rescues abandoned Pyrenees and trains them for work as guardian animals. After several email conversations with her, we thought we had found just the right one.

The kids and I went out and met Lady Angela, in addition to touring their very large working farm. (They have about 1500 hogs, 50 dairy goats, cattle, and tobacco). Lady seemed to be perfect, having been trained to guard chickens, kittens, and pigs. We loaded her up and brought her home.

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This posting is getting mighty long, so I’ll jump to the chase. Lady felt that her primary mission in life was to protect her new humans from their dogs. Every opportunity she got, she lunged for Lucy and Daisy’s throats and we could never break her of that. Because she persisted in trying to eradicate our pets, we couldn’t ever untie her. As a result, the neighbor dogs were still plucking chickens out of our yard at their leisure.

We did a dog switch-er-roo and gave it another try. We brought home a big handsome male named Klondike. He and “the girls” have worked it out so that everyone can coexist happily on the porch. Thus far, it seems things are going pretty well. Klondike happily patrols a big oval around the house barking his presence. Twice we have seen predator dogs in the yard, but we aren’t sure whether Klondike was running them off or playing with them and they ran when they saw us. The jury is still out. Joe is concerned that all we have is another dog to raise our redneck rating (you know- if the porch collapses and no fewer than 6 dogs come running out, you might be a redneck). We’ll see.klondikeonporch7-09-06.JPG

This picture doesn’t do Klondike justice really.  He is a pretty sizeable, impressive animal when he is standing and alert, but it was time for a water break.  As you can see, one must leave no stone unturned (or no muddy place unchecked) in the war on predators.

 

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Comments»

1. Becky - July 10, 2006

If it is okay to say that an adult male dog is beautiful, Klondike is! I can’t wait to meet him. I think he is better looking than Lady Angela and it sounds like he has a better temperment. If you’ll keep on with BIG dogs, you’ll need to use the horse trailer to bring them to my house when you’ll come. Of course, Klondike may have to stay home and guard the other critters. Love to all, Beck

2. chickenmama - July 10, 2006

I think he’s beautiful too, and I agree that he is better looking than Lady. I love his thick solid-white mounds of fur. He looks a bit like a polar bear. I suppose that is where he got his name.

The rescuer/trainer said she knows before he was dumped at the shelter that he was a “city dog” and she didn’t hold much hope of him being any use on the farm. She was pleasantly surprised the he was good with pigs, chickens, and cats too.

It is part of a Pyrenees’ breeding that they have a natural instinct to protect smaller and weaker animals. They originated in the Pyrenees Mountains where they were left for weeks at a time alone to guard sheep. I’ve always wondered what they ate if no one fed them and there were all those tasty sheep around, but I’ve never found the answer to that. Apparently, it wasn’t sheep if they kept their jobs.

3. Joe - July 11, 2006

I think by “good with pigs, chickens, and cats” what the rescue/trainer really meant was that Klondike didn’t partake of them himself.


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