Livestock Guardian Dogs

After living on the farm for a little over a year, with coyote howling in the hills all around us, we decided it was time to get some protection for the sheep in September of 2015. The first true LGDs we obtained were Molly, a 4-year-old Great Pyrenees, and her father, Bo. Before coming here, Molly and Bo lived with goats primarily, and even brought a few of theirs along to our farm. We already knew Molly was a home-body (as in, wanted to hang around the house and kids), and recognized quickly that if we wanted her to stay with the livestock, she’d only do it if she was completely surrounded by electric fence (she’s a digger!). So, we installed a full perimeter of Premier-1 sheep/goat netting and we were all set. Molly chased a few of our girls at first, but after a few weeks she settled in and has made a huge difference on our farm.

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Molly & Olivia, winter 2017

We decided to add another LGD to our menagerie because Molly & Bo were not going to live forever, and we didn’t want to someday be left without anyone to watch over the flock. Knowing we would have adults around to train him, we decided to purchase a puppy from an LGD breeder near Charlottesville. Romeo, a Maremma, came to the farm in December of 2015. He was a roly, poly, ball of fluff, and settled in quickly to life on the farm. Even as a pup, he stayed in the field 24/7, with his own doghouse inside a small pen we built by linking a few hog panels together. We wanted him to have a sheep-free space, and to teach him to protect his home and food. He grew and grew and now is a reliable protector for our herd.

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Romeo & Caden, winter 2016

Bo, who was hit by a car as a pup, came up lame in April of 2016 and we decided to send him back to his home farm. It was sad to see him go but we know he was happy to be home with his family again, living comfortably with a tiny flock of goats.

In the spring of 2020 we added yet another LGD to our farm. Opal, a mostly Great Pyrenees, some Maremma pup came from Mosby’s Secret Sidehill Farm in Amherst, VA. We decided to start Opal at the barn while that year’s ewes and lambs were in the paddock. We wanted her to be familiar with baby sheep, and their bossy mamas. Since the chickens were in the same paddock, she had some exposure to them as well, with the hope that she might someday be an all-farm livestock guardian. We moved her out to the field when the lambs and ewes returned to the pasture, and she’s been really good. She chased the lambs a little when she got excited, but after a few stern reprimands, she’s been much more respectful. Since we don’t want any accidental puppies, and we are moving all the sheep (plus Romeo, who is intact) into one large winter paddock soon, we plan to move Opal back to the barn with the chickens where she can help keep the hawks and fox at bay.

Opal, March 2020

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