Predator Friendly Farming
Predator friendly farming/ranching depends upon the use of livestock guardian dogs.
Moving with the flocks and herds, the dogs provide FULL TIME protection for the
poultry and other stock on the farm. LGD give predators and other wildlife a choice
and predators ALWAYS know where our dogs are better than we do...and usually
avoid those areas on the farm. This is predator friendly because areas where the dogs
are NOT, are completely available to the wildlife. This way we are able to co-exist with
wildlife, promoting whole habitat health and foster a stable, balanced ecosystem.
Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGD, are a group of breeds that have been selectively
bred for 1000s of years to excel at bonding with livestock, and protecting that stock
against predators such as wolves, bears, big cats, and any other predator they perceive
to pose a threat to their flocks and herds (including raptors/birds of prey, strange
domestic dogs and strange/unknown humans).
Breeds originated in Europe and Asia where they are still used today as shepherds leave villages with large flocks and herds of sheep and goats and go out into the mountainous countryside for summer grazing. A pack of LGD will accompany the group into areas where apex predators await.
LGD breeds have a very low prey drive and a very high protective drive. To clarify, prey drive is exemplified by the activity one sees in a Border Collie or cattle dog that is moving stock. LGD should NEVER be moving stock, rather LGD should be putting themselves between the stock and whatever threat is present, and neutralizing that threat. LGD is not a job that can be trained into any other breed. It is the result of genetic hard wiring. Just because a dog doesn't harm the stock and defends a territory (eg a farm dog role), doesn't mean it is bonded to that stock and protective of it.
There are a various breeds of LGD, the most familiar being The Big White Dog...this includes the prolific Great Pyrenees that is most populous across North America and can be found on couches in suburban homes as often as it is found guarding stock. Pyrs tend to be the softest of the LGD breeds, meaning they are not as reactive and quick to engage directly with threats. All LGD will bark at a threat as their first line of defense, working to send the predator away. Deterrence begins with barking and ends with lethal measures if the predator/threat does not go away. How quickly an LGD arrives at lethal measures depends on the breed. Breeds such as the Sarplaninac, Central Asian Shepherd, and Ovcharka, are much more reactive than the Pyrenees. They are very reactive to threats and will not hesitate to engage and neutralize. On the spectrum of reactivity, there are more than a few other breeds of LGD, none of which are very common in North America.
meet our team
Providence Farm is staffed by a team of 4 livestock guardian dogs representing 3 different breeds. Structuring our team with the traits of the various breeds gives us the ability to most effectively address a variety of predator issues. Our pack is staggered by age and gender, the younger dogs learning from the older, experienced dogs.
The youngest member of our team is Sam, a Karakachan. Sam
is our youngest but most reactive guardian dog. He is wicked smart
and intuitive about everything with an independence and decisive-
ness that is well beyond the independence and decisiveness of the
other dogs. He is completely intolerant of strange dogs as well as
anything else he determines to be a threat. As he continues to
mature, these traits will intensify.
Our most well known team member is probably Hazel,
a Great Pyrenees. She is an outstanding guardian and very
versatile, guarding just about anything we give her. Hazel was
an apartment pet for the first 7 months of her life but has fully
transitioned to working dog. And she EXCELS at it. She is kind
and benevolent and LOVES children, but is highly reactive
towards ALL predators. Hazel also guards UP (against birds
of prey) with extreme prejudice and intensity.
The matriarch of our pack is an Anatolian Shepherd Dog,
Petra. She is the brains behind the whole team with the
wisdom and experience of many years. She is versatile,
guarding whatever needs to be watched but absolutely
prefers the lambs and ewes. Petra mentored both Hazel
and Sam for when they were younger. She prefers to
work with Big Joe.
Big Joe...Petra's main man and the muscle behind the brains
of the Petra-Big Joe team. Joe arrived here as the runt of
the litter, a tiny little guy. No one ever expected much
from him but boy did he prove everyone so very wrong.
Joe just kept growing and growing and developed into an
outstanding guardian that's very versatile, intensely guarding
any of the livestock or poultry on the farm (even the pigs,
of whom he is not a fan). A sharper dog, he is quick to react
to whatever threat presents itself, including birds of prey. He is
especially intolerant of strange people.