Last week I answered a question from Bill who was having problems with predators, namely a bobcat, getting to his poultry. Since that time, we’ve had some responses from readers with recommendations for Bill. Since predators are a problem for many of us, I thought I’d share a few of those responses in the hopes that they will help not only Bill but many readers who have predator issues. Thanks to all of you who wrote in.
“There is a breed of dog that Bill may want to research, the Anatolian Karabash (Anatolian Shepherd} is being used in Africa to protect herds of goats and sheep in villages against cheetah. Although cheetah have a stronger sense of self preservation than a bobcat and are more likely to run from a large barking dog, this is a breed that has been protecting flocks against wild cats, wolves etc for many years and would lay down its life to protect its charges.” ~ Morna Clark
“I have some information on livestock guarding dogs. The Great Pyrenees dog is specifically designed to do that job. Their instincts are so strong that even when crossed with other breeds it is dominant. GP dogs are bred to live with herds of animals and identify with them. They quickly learn their geographical boundaries and accept any livestock within as their charges to protect. They are gentle even with kittens, but absolutely will not tolerate any four-legged or feathered trespassers. I have one and have seen it jump in the air to grab at flying cranes…
Alas, you can’t have everything. They are giants( 100+lbs ), require a 5′ fence, and need somewhere to dig a few really big holes. And they are hairy and do not stay as cool in summer. The GP is always on duty and needs a job to do. Don’t expect them to be an obedience trained house pet/ yard dog. Their magic lies in barking somewhat quietly and often. It lets everything around know that they are watching. Mine does not recognize humans as a threat. Any person can just walk right up.”
“I live in rural Florida and we have bobcats, foxes, raccoons, etc., etc. Lately we are getting coyotes also. Not to mention the large number of dumped dogs and cats. Aside from a few stray cats that have charmed their way in, nothing else is allowed to enter our property. And the dog does it all instinctively. He knows which livestock is his and woe to every other animal. He will only chase it to the property line, but even the deer are learning the lesson. I’m not a big fan of deer”
“If anyone wants to make the leap to a serious livestock guarding dog, please consider contacting a Great Pyrenees rescue. As with all beautiful dogs, many people got and then got rid of them. Just remember, a working dog needs a job.” ~ Cheryl S.
“I would like to pass along to Bill, some information concerning a dog for protection. Tell him to surf the internet for goats. He will find that there are several breeds of large dogs that are used for flock protection. Kuvase, Anatolia Shepherds, Akbash, Great Pyrenees are some that come to mind. I do not know if these animals will learn to protect chickens but they do protect the sheep & goats as they view them as part of their extended family. They ward off coyotes, bobcats, bears etc. Another bred that may work is the American Bulldog. This is the old farm dog of years past 100+ lbs. Nothing like the English Bulldog! These dogs are absolutely fearless and very loyal. I believe with any of these dogs and particularly the bulldog you would need to acquire them young and train them not to chase or eat chickens.”
“I don’t know what Bill’s land situation is but if he has a little acreage there is another option. Texas Longhorns! That’s correct Texas Longhorns are highly capable of defending themselves from predators. They are also very alert and quick to protect and defend. A side benefit is that they produce the leanest domestic meat available, leaner than chicken.” ~ Mike Grasha
“I live out in the country in western Montana, and we have a lot of predators also. Skunks, raccoons, coyotes, even wolves. I have a yard for my precious hens to scratch around in during the day, and it is fenced w/chicken wire, and has two rows of hot wire around it. One row about 6 inches off the ground, and anther row about 3 inches from the top, with long insulators to hold the hot wire away from the chickens. There has been times when the hot wire has been off the insulators, as if something tried to get in, but got shocked instead and pulled the wire away when it was trying to get away. Knock on wood, but I have had chickens for a long time and have never had a predator take home a prize, one of my beautiful layers. Just thought I’d put my 2 cents worth in” ~ Jeri Fisher
Thanks again to all of you who wrote in, your experience is helpful and most appreciated.