this post is about our decision to get livestock guardian dogs to protect our homestead (mainly poultry) from predators
Our new Jersey heifers Sally & Mary have settled right in, spending their days grazing out in the pasture with the goats. They have the life!
Our newest batch of hens are getting pretty big so its almost time to move them out of the garden and down to live with the rest of the farm animals before they start laying. We’ve lost so many chickens in the last year and need a way to protect them. Which is why I’m so glad I found these livestock guardian dogs and can start training them!
I’ve wanted a Great Pyrenees ever since we first got chickens last spring. Free ranging our poultry is really important to me and I know having a good LGD is a great way to protect them. Plus, we had two of them when I was growing up, and even though I was deathly allergic to dogs (all animals actually) as a kid/young adult, I loved those dogs. They were so gentle and laid back, but protective when they needed to be.
I’ve been looking and looking and finally found some LGDs that were born to working parents – on Craigslist, obviously. So John and I agreed to get 1 male and raise him with the other farm animals from the get go so he’d know his job. Then maybe get another down the road. That was the plan when I left the house yesterday to go pick our puppy up, at least!
However – I brought my mom along (she’s always afraid I’m going to get murdered buying animals on CL) and that’s how we ended up with two puppies. But first….
The ranch we got them from was amazing.
The lady it belonged to was a total spirit animal.
I mean, she had ducks, chickens, rheas, goats, dogs, guineas, Shetland ponies, horses, peafowl, rabbits, and I’m sure more. Her setup was so perfect and pretty – she had a duck pond, everything was tidy and well kept, and all the animals had a ton of space. I love meeting other people who are already doing what I want to do and have lots more experience. Visiting different farms, seeing their setup and asking lots of questions has been one of most helpful things to me! It really gives me a vision of what I do and don’t want for our future and how we could implement those things here.
This particular woman actually got into raising all of her animals for her kids when they were little and now gives educational farm tours, how cool is that? If you’re homestead dreaming, I’d highly recommend finding some people in your area who are doing what you want to do and going to visit!
Also – yes, I asked before I took pictures and she said sure.
I just couldn’t believe what a neat place it was. I’m telling you guys, Craigslist has never let me down! I mean, look at this rhea she had living by her goats! Unless you’re my husband. Then don’t look at it! I promise I won’t bring one home….this year.
When we saw the shetland ponies Viv said: “Look! They have teenager horses!” The kids refer to every animal according to what its human developmental stage would be. Either baby, toddler, kid, teenager, or adult. Makes sense, and its cute so I encourage and go along with it 100%.
But back to the reason we went: the dogs!
The kids were SO excited. They absolutely love our chickens and have been really upset about losing so many. We’ve had endless conversations about how its in certain dogs nature and bloodline to protect and guard livestock and poultry. So they’ve been anxiously waiting to find an LGD for a while now!
I knew their were two puppies left – but first she just brought out the one I had already picked out for our farm, the boy.
He was sooo cute and sweet! Plus, seeing how gentle his momma was amongst the farm animals she guards was awesome.
This is him – his name is Howard, but we’ve been calling him Howie.
I was all set with our new little buddy but then his puppy sister ran out and the plot twist began. My mom immediately started presenting scenarios in which we could take her home too, including she and my Dad keeping her. Mom has a bleeding heart when it comes to animals and didn’t want them separated. See where I get it from?!
This is Howie’s sister. We named her Ranger!
You can kind of see the puppies’ mom in the background.
I didn’t give in easily though on the taking two puppies deal! We actually left the ranch with just one because I told Mom that John and I had already agreed on that – just one. Then maybe 2 miles down the road, Mom said: “I know!! How about I get her for you as an early birthday present! Pull over and call John!”
Friends, its really hard to tell your determined mother who’s the nicest and greatest human on the planet no – plus, lets be honest I wanted that other puppy too! And a 30th birthday present from my mom sounded like a super legit reason to present the idea to John.
I called and he was totally cool with it so we turned around and went back to get her. Viv was so happy to be getting a girl!
I’ve heard they do better in pairs and I’m glad it all worked out the way it did! My mom is the best.
By the way – through all this excitement Hank was sleeping in the car. When he finally woke up, he looked down and said “how did we get puppies so fast??” Lol Hankerz. Such a sweetie.
Plans for our livestock guardian dogs
They’ll live down the lane with the goats, cows, pigs, and chickens. They’re definitely not inside dogs and probably won’t even be up by the house too much at all.
Since they’re siblings, we’ll be getting Ranger spayed – we don’t want any inbred puppies.
And hopefully I won’t be losing a chicken every other day – thats definitely part of the plan!
Howie and Ranger will have free range of the huge pasture our other animals are on and I’m sure eventually we will let them out around the rest of the farm too. That’s pretty much it!
I’m pretty sure we won’t be getting any new farm animals for a while, but you never know around here 😉
keywords: homestead, livestock guardian dogs, great pyrenees