Livestock Guardian Dogs

Predators: A Successful Approach

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The biggest threat to our sheep is predators. Here in east central Ohio our biggest concerns are coyotes, bobcats, fox and most of all black headed buzzards. Some folk use donkeys and others say llamas work for them. For us, nothing compares to guard dogs, their bark alone will keep predators away. To be honest, I didn’t think our dogs could catch a coyote. But one snowy day in December when I was making my rounds checking the sheep, our male “Rio” pulled a dead coyote out of the bushes as if he wanted to show me what he had caught. A local university was lambing their ewes outside in the spring. All was well until black headed buzzards discovered the baby lambs. Out of 300 lambs that year black headed buzzards killed over 100. Staff would chase the buzzards off a lamb and they would fly to the next one. There was no way to stop them. The worst part being that black headed buzzards are protected by the federal government. The university’s solution was to lamb inside a barn the following year. We are located less than 40 miles from this university and we commonly see black headed buzzards. We have never lost a lamb to black headed buzzards. The only difference between us and the university, we have guard dogs and they don’t. Our dogs have never killed a buzzard but their bark is enough to keep them away. This is why we don’t use donkeys or llamas. Whatever the biggest threat to your flock is, guard dogs are one of the most foolproof ways to ensure the safety and protection of your livestock.

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