Saturday, April 6, 2013

Everyone Loves Puppies... or How the Livestock Guardian Pups Stole Our Hearts

Livestock Guardian Dogs

We've known for a while that we wanted to have livestock guardian dogs to grow up with our goats.  Well, we are still trying to acquire some goats, but we finally found our livestock guardian dogs, or puppies, as they were.  Aren't they the cutest things?  

Introducing our pair of ferocious guardians:

Livestock guardian dogs
Female Livestock Guardian Puppy

Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd crosses.
Male Livestock Guardian Puppy

Okay, maybe they aren't ferocious yet; they are only 6 weeks old, but they will be very soon.

We have some names in mind, but we haven't decided yet.  This is just the preliminary video.  They need a bath and some brushing and then we'll get some better pics.

Questions of cost and sustainability

When running a farm business, we must consider that all inputs must have a valuable contribution to the farm.  With this mindset, it's a good thing my house cats have been with us for so long.  We love 'em, but honestly, they don't contribute much to the bottom line, so we have "grandfathered" them in so they can stay.  But, any new animals brought in must work for their room and board.

So what's sustainable about a dog that will eventually grow to 150-200 lbs?  These two are only 6 weeks old, yet they are already as big as our large adult cat, Mischa (and she's a tank at 13 lbs).  Is it cost effective to have an animal that has it's own food budget?   (much less two of them?)   

Well as with most questions about sustainability, it really depends.  If you have predators in your area and you have small children, then they would be worth their meat budget.  If these dogs soothe your mind about the safety of your baby goats or lambs at night, then they might be worth their meat budget.  If you've lost more than one flock of chickens, can't live without fresh eggs, and don't want to lose another, you might be willing to buy in.  In this part of the Hill Country, we have coyotes, foxes, and even cougars have been sighted recently - and that's a lot to worry about.

These cute little fur-balls will grow up to fend off predators, and they may come in contact with one from time to time, but the idea is that predators will smell these big guys and just stay away.  These livestock guardian dogs will have a valuable contribution to the farm.  There are many gadgets out there that promise to scare away hawks, crows, deer, coyotes, foxes, and other pesky creatures, but people that own livestock guardian dogs say the dogs are the best investment ever made.  Overall, we believe using livestock guardian dogs to patrol and protect is a good way to deter the native wildlife.

These large breed dogs are not for everyone.  These types of dogs are supposed to be left in the barn with the livestock, not cuddled or coddled.  But I have to tell you, it is hard to resist these furry little cuties, and there's already a bet going between our neighbors about when we'll break those rules and bring the dogs in the house.  :)  I'm trying to hold out.  Casey's grip is slipping though....  We'll have to see how it plays out. 

More info about them:
Both are part Great Pyrenees and part Anatolian Shepherd breeds.  As pure breeds, these dogs are great, and they are commonly interbred to produce a dog with great instincts, strong jaws, and a guardian temperament.   They are territorial and loyal to their herd and master.  We have been looking for a long time and we were blessed to find a male and female at the same time, so close in age, with such beautiful qualities. 

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