Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs)
As they do their work, you come to respect their decisions about the flock.
The youngster of our group is Mattie. She is a registered Anatolian, but we decided to have her spayed because we want to breed Bedia. The Anatolians have such large litters that we decided we only wanted to breed one of them. We will want to keep some of the puppies, but others will be offered for sale.
Playing in the water after a heavy rain.
There are many different breeds of LGDs. We happen to prefer the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. They seem to fit the bill for our farm, our flock and the job requirements to be met here at Lone Star Farm. Livestock Guarding Dogs are just what their name implies. They guard, they do not herd or bring in the flocks. They simply live with the flock 24/7 and keep them from harm from four-legged predators. The Anatolian is one of the breeds that will also keep the flock from being stolen by two-legged predators. As a precaution, we do not allow visitors in the pastures without being accompanied by Mike or myself. It's safer that way. However, it doesn't matter what age child it is, as long as they are well behaved, our dogs love them. They are gentle with children and take on the responsibility of protecting them, as soon as they are introduced.
S.W.A.T. guarding her lambs.
Miranda is a good chicken guard, along with being a good sheep guardian. She is rather picky about the roosters mounting her hens. As far as she is concerned, that should not be allowed. We were approached at our gate by a new neighbor, who is not familiar with our dog's practices. The lady thought she should stop to tell us she saw Miranda kill a chicken. She said, "It's right over .... well, it was." The chicken had gotten up and "left the building". It was a rooster that had been trying to breed the hens. Miranda always disciplines the roosters when they jump on her hens. She doesn't hurt them, she just gets them really wet. The roosters play possum until she walks away, then jump up and head for the hills. Mike just didn't know what to say to the neighbor other than he guessed she just needed some more training. Below is a picture of Miranda and Ninja hanging out with her sheep on a rainy day.
This is Miranda. We jokingly named her Miranda because she reads you your rights before she bites. Their will be no doubt left in your mind as to when she means business. Though she is a registered Anatolian, she borders on a cross between a Tasmanian devil and the Hound of the Baskervilles. She is not afraid of the devil himself, and takes her job quite seriously protecting her charges against four-legged and two-legged predators. Sadly, she has one elbow that did not pass the OFA certification and so we had her spayed. God has His way of taking care of breeding things around here, as her temperament is such that she shouldn't have been bred anyway. We dedicated our dogs to the Lord, the same as we did our flock, and we have been blessed by doing so.
Mattie in her pasture waiting for something to happen.
Mattie is with the yearling rams right now. Being tutored by Royce. She handled being with the rams by herself and did a good job. Mattie is still considered very young as a livestock guardian. She will be two years old in July of 2016. She is still not ready to be with very young lambs. She still wants to chase ocassionally just to play, but that is stressful for the lambs and not allowed. She needs a little more maturity and training to be trusted with the young ones. She also needs chicken training. She had a buddy, a ram named Lone Star Ezra, that we recently sold. She moped for a couple of weeks after Ezra left, but she seems to be happy in with the yearlings now. It was quite sad the way she grieved the lost of her friend ram.
Ninja and his best buddy, Brennan.
The dogs get to know each animal in their charge individually, be it sheep, goats, chickens, or whatever. Although they guard the entire flock, it is interesting to see how they interact with each animal, becoming close friends with some, or steering clear of others who may be a bit surly toward them. We currently have six Anatolians, and we witness this action from them on a daily basis. Different dogs have different personalities and we are learning how to gauge which dog works best in each situation. In our observations, it takes a dog with more experience, or one with a very gentle spirit to live with weanling lambs. The lambs begin to play and run in the pasture and that action triggers prey drive in pups. The pups then want to chase them. The more they chase, the more panicked the lambs become. It can spell disaster. Some breeds may be different, but you cannot put an Anatolian puppy in with your sheep and expect it to do what it is supposed to do without supervision. It takes patience and time training to make a good livestock guard out of an Anatolian, but when they finally have it, they are the best in their field as far as we are concerned. Well worth the effort to train them.
Experienced dogs, or seasoned dogs, are generally adults at least three maybe four years old, who have lived with the flock and have made enough mistakes, having been corrected by either their shepherd or an older LGD, so that they have become steady observers of the sheep with no desire in them to chase the sheep. Each dog on our farm seems to have found its niche in our little society.
This is Royce. He is an Anatolian, registered with the American Kennel Club. We are pleased to say he has passed all the required medical tests through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals with a rating of "GOOD" on his hips, and a grade of "NORMAL" for his elbows and thyroid. We are looking forward to breeding him to our female, Bedia, in the future. Royce is in charge of the yearling rams. They are the ones that get testy at times as they enter puberty and Royce has just the temperament to straighten them out. They don't seem to cross him more than once.
Swatty with a ram friend.
Royce, is an excellent guard now, but it took a lot of time, training and maturity to be able to trust him around the chickens. He knows now that chickens are to be protected along with the sheep and that he can no longer invite them for dinner.........his. Royce is the dog we trust to work a few acres away from us, without any supervision. He will kill anything that comes into his pasture, be it squirrels, possums, dogs, coyotes or whatever predator he needs to guard against. We have even seen him reroute a doe with her fawn, who was quite persistent about being able to pass through his pasture of rams. She was very put out that she was not allowed entry no matter how much she insisted that Royce should let her come through. He is a no nonsense dog except when it comes to our great grandchildren that he adores. He instantly becomes a big silly, trying to slurp them in the face and direct their affections toward himself only.
Bedia (pronounced ba dee' uh) is next. She is Mike's pride and joy. She just passed her medical tests for breeding requirements through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) with a rating of "GOOD" on her hips, and a grade of "NORMAL" on her elbows and thyroid. She will be bred to Royce the next time she comes into season, provided we have enough buyers interested in the pups. Bedia is an excellent guardian. She is in charge of the adult rams and does an excellent job of not taking any guff off them, but also being their buddy. She is a ferocious guard, though you wouldn't believe it unless you saw her in action because she is such a sweety. She loves everybody when she is introduced. Bedia is our largest Anatolian, but very fast and agile. With her brindle coloring and the way she practices her stealth, she's an uncanny protector. You can look out over her pasture for five minutes and swear there is no dog in there with those sheep. Then out she comes from her hiding place and you would be in serious trouble if you had already jumped the fence.
Bedia is one of two Anatolians that we have that is not yet trained to guard chickens. However, after having a little mishap with a rooster last week, she is now in training.
Bedia's mother Kara Panter is imported from Turkey. Bedia's sire, Topcu Subayi, (aka Gunner) comes from parents who were also imported from Turkey by Chyril Walker, owner of Shepherds Rest Anatolians in Oregon.
Swatty is a very happy dog most of the time, while Ninja takes his work very seriously. Ninja is totally focused on what he is doing, while S.W.A.T. is happy-go-lucky about everything except predators. She also likes to hear herself bark.
Swatty after a hard night of guarding. Busy night.
One of Swatty's very best qualities, kissing babies. If that was the only requirement, she could be mayor of a city.
This is one of my favorite pictures of S.W.A.T. guarding her sheep up close and quite personal, wouldn't you say?
This has been our experience with Anatolians. We have also owned Anatolian/Great Pyrenees crosses. We have found that cross to be too soft as a guard dog to ward off people in our particular situation. The Anatolians seem, to us, to be much more serious as predator deterents when it comes to humans. We also noticed with the crosses, that they were content to simply scare off the critter predators and then they would return again and again, while the Anatolians will eliminate the intruder once and for all by killing it. We are constantly finding skeletons of animals in the pastures, especially the outside perimeter pasture that is our first line of defense against predators. But, that is why there are so many different breeds of LGDs. One of our close neighbors lost seven Boar goat kids in one night to coyotes. We haven't lost any. In fact, our chickens run free on the farm and we have not even lost a chicken to a chicken hawk since we have had the Anatolians. The Anatolians also guard up. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to how the dogs operate on their farm, in their predator environment. You need to decide what would work best for you. Please feel free to contact us regarding Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. We will be breeding Royce to Bedia in the future.
Lone Star Farm | Barbados Blackbelly Sheep
Below are S.W.A.T. (affectionately known as Swatty) and Ninja. They are both Anatolians, as well as brother and sister. Since they are not registered, and we want to raise registered dogs, we had Ninja neutered and Swatty spayed. All of our dogs are microchipped. The two of them come from our friend and Anatolian breeder, Lyn Brown, of La Plata, New Mexico. Swatty takes care of ewes and their lambs, while Ninja guards the pregnant ewes. They are both very good chicken guards as well, they even guard the eggs which is quite comical to watch.
Mattie relaxing in the hay room.
Ninja giving Brennan a ride and getting kisses from great granddaughter, Brooklyn.
Hot Rod & Royce guarding Brennan.