Livestock guardian dogs are not guard dogs. They are dogs bred for centuries to stay with livestock, prmarily sheep, but they can be trained for goats and chickens, even pigs. They guard their charges with their lives, fiercely fending off any would be predators. There are two guardians with the sheep, brothers, Mike and Joe. They are a year and a half old and already have assumed full time responsibility for their sheep. When they want to relax, they go "home" to their sheep pen. In the winter months, there is not much for them to do, and they are allowed out of the pen, which they easily jump. We are in a heavy predator zone, backing on to over 300 acres of crown land which is primarily wild bush. Coyotes, bears, foxes, big cats and other predators live in that zone and if these dogs were not here, I am sure our losses would be substantial. As it is, to date, with Mike and Joe and the other livestock guardian dogs, we have not lost a lamb to a predator, other than the ravens, who ate one at birth.
There is an arial predator that hunts the farm at the crack of dawn. The livestock guardian dogs do not fend it off for some reason. Robbie, the border collie, is the only dog who is trained to arial watch and he does a great job when he is outside. As with most young border collies, he is not to be trusted yet on his own though, and when I am not outside, he is either tied up or inside with me, so he cannot fend off what comes from the sky.
The farm has other livstock guardians that do not live with any particular group of livesetock, but are general protectors. There are four more of them, two females that are spayed and two more males that patrol this farm and the three surrounding it. We do not see so much as a jack rabbit or gopher at the farm yard. Nothing ventures to come that near or it is chased away. The dogs first intention is not to kill, but to drive prey away from the farm, though they would not hesitate to tear apart a marauding visitor. They often come home with new scars and scratches, so they are doing some fighting away from the farm too. The females stay home most of the time, and Jade stays 100% of the time, so even if the others are off fighting, she remains home to guard. They have a certain alarm bark when there is danger and also a warning bark to let the predators know they best stay away.
I am grateful for my big livestock guardian dogs. Only Harley is a purebred Maremma and the others are mixes of mostly Maremma and Great Pyrenees, though Ofcharka has Anatolian Shepherd and Akbash in him as well. Not every dog makes a good livestock guardian, though, even bred to be such. Some find the tantalizing taste of blood more than they can handle and they kill chickens and waterfowl, and sometimes even kill sheep. Fortunately for The Fat Ewe Farm, we lucked out and have the best of the best. Thanks my buddies. You always brighten my day with a wagging tail and cheerful smile for me (Jenna really has a big smile!). You are the best!