Livestock Guardian Dogs and Poultry


| 5/8/2017 1:25:00 PM


Tags: livestock guardian dogs, LGD, poultry, Jan Dohner, Anna Abney, livestock guardians, Michigan, South Carolina,

I’m very happy to feature a guest post on using livestock guardian dogs to protect poultry. This is perhaps the most challenging task we ask of these dogs, since poultry are not their traditional stock.

I’m so pleased that Anna Abney offered to share this useful information with Mother Earth readers. Anna Abney is the founder of the popular Facebook group Learning About LGDs and a professional dog trainer in upstate South Carolina. She also raises laying chickens, meat ducks, meat rabbits, and pack goats as well as working Central Asian Shepherd Dogs.

Livestock Guardian Dogs and Poultry

Many modern homesteaders and farmers are turning to livestock guardian dogs to protect their chickens and ducks and other barnyard fowl. Poultry are particularly vulnerable to predators, which often limits the poultry farmer's ability to free range her flock. A well-trained, reliable LGD can prevent losses from predators and allow the poultry farmer to achieve a more natural, healthy lifestyle for her birds. However, poultry are not traditional livestock for LGDs to protect so using them with birds presents special challenges. Not every LGD will turn out to be a trustworthy poultry guardian even with the best training and genetics but there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances for success.The first step with any working LGD is to purchase a dog from a reliable breeder with good references who can prove the working heritage of her dogs. If you can find a breeder with dogs already experienced with poultry that is the best bet. More information on selecting a well-bred LGD can be found here.

As with training any LGD, prevention is key. Puppies and adolescent dogs already struggle with bad decision-making skills and a flapping, squawking chicken can be an irresistible toy for a young dog. If they are able, many puppies will inevitably kill a chicken or other bird simply by playing with it to death. This killing is rarely deliberate but unfortunately a small bird doesn't stand up so well to a large, playful puppy. So in the beginning the ideal is to keep the pup and the poultry completely separated. This means the pup's area needs to be as inaccessible as possible for the birds. Chickens are notoriously birdbrained and will fly into a puppy's pen even after they have witnessed their own flock mates held down and all their feathers licked off. Trimming the birds' flight feathers can prevent this, as well as stringing bird netting across the top of the puppy's enclosure so the birds can't “throw themselves to the wolves.”




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