Livestock Guardian Dogs Protect a Kansas Flock

| 7/21/2015 9:16:00 AM

Tags: livestock guardian dogs, sheep, livestock, homesteading, Carolyn Welch, Kansas,

Bryan with Sam

After 10 years of relatively calm, successful lambing seasons, last year brought calamity to our Kansas farm, Rancho Cappuccino, in the form of the coyote. For a decade, we had tolerated the occasional loss of a small or weak lamb, figuring that the coyotes were here first and that they had a right to make their living off the land as well.

A year ago, however, they started hunting in a pack, digging large holes under our fences faster than we could block them, and picking off our lambs at a ferocious rate. We lost 40 percent of them (about 2 dozen lambs), and the predation continued for months. Even sizable young rams with horns were taken.

We had no interest in shooting the coyotes. A friend recommended the application of wolf urine to the perimeter of our property, so I got online and bought a pint of the foul-smelling stuff. I spent the better part of a Saturday diligently dribbling a little on each and every fencepost. It didn’t work.

Our next line of defense was a livestock guardian dog. After many inquiries, we heard from a woman who had sold her flock in anticipation of a move, and whose 2-year-old Great Pyrenees, Sam, needed a new home. “Maybe you should bring some tranquilizers”, she said on the phone. “He weighs 175 pounds.”

We arrived with a syringe of tranquilizer provided by our vet, a box of dog treats, the stock trailer, and Toby (our goat) to keep him company. Sam was aloof and wary even of the dog treats we tossed his way. But, he was also beautiful and impressive and he clearly took the guardianship of his owner very seriously. She sedated him and together we loaded our enormous, groggy pup into the trailer for the long trip home, stopping frequently to check on him and shower him with affection, which he seemed to appreciate.

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