As some of you that live in the country may know, predators are a very real and common problem farmers and ranchers have. Even people in the city with small homesteads are loosing there chickens or other livestock to the common predators here is Texas such as the coyote, fox, raccoon, hawks and owls. But there is an even bigger problem that many people are facing, the stray dog. As the economy isn't the very best at the moment, many people in the country that own dogs decide to let them roam free to find food instead of feeding them. Also many people will dump unwanted dogs and puppies in the country thinking that can fend for themselves better than in the city. This may very well be the case, but It also means that they often feed themselves on our chickens, eggs and other small livestock. As the stray dog numbers grow they begin to form packs. This is where we see the greatest danger. One dog is about ten times less likely to take on another dog or a medium to large animal (goat or calf) than a pack will. Many people are loosing goats, miniature donkeys and even young cattle to stray dog packs.
The coyote population is growing ever smaller in Texas but instead of making them less of a threat to livestock owners they are an ever greater danger as they cannot form strong packs as they used to and must fend for themselves more and more. This generally means that where a coyote used to be shy, rarely coming close to highly populated cities and towns or into the center of farms and ranches, they are forced to now or they will starve.
Well you all know that you cannot stay up all day and night to guard your livestock with a shotgun (although my brothers would beg to differ), there has to be a way to guard your farm and animals. This has led to the integration of the Livestock Protection Animal into american farms and homesteads. There are many animals now used for this purpose but to elaborate on all of them would take a very large book, so for now I will simply give you some information on the one that I have had the most experience with, the LGD or Livestock Guardian Dog.
There are 8 breeds that are most commonly used as LGDs in the United States but I will only cover 3 here. I have owned most of these or mixes of two or more breeds. Here is some brief information about each.
Great Pyrenees The Great Pyrenees is also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, they range in size from 25-29' tall and 80-90 lbs for females to 27-32" tall and 100-120 lbs for males. They are generally solid white but some colored markings on the head and back is acceptable and is called "Badger Markings". They are very laid back good natured dogs for the most part and tend to have a lazy side and are most commonly found in the shade during the hot Texas summer. But when they are called upon to protect there home, family or livestock can be very ferocious looking but rarely attack unless forced to in order to prevent harm to there charges. In my experience with pure Great Pyres they have a stubborn streak and once they form a bad habit (such as eating your chickens) it is very hard to change their minds that this is not a allowed behavior. By nature, the Great Pyrenees is nocturnal. It has no tolerance for other dogs except the herding dogs that it works with, and very small dogs. It can be trusted with small, young and helpless animals of any kind, but it has to be watched as a young pup with some supervision as it usually takes a pup 18 months to become a livestock guardian dog. It is one of the most interesting qualities of a Great Pyrenees-the absolute intolerance of all predators, coupled with extraordinary patience and kindness to stock. The Great Pyrenees is a territorial guard by nature, which means that he works to keep his territory free from predatory danger. Because of this, there may be times when the shepherd does not see the dog for long periods of time. He knows that the job is being done because the losses decrease. If the dog is working effectively, the stockman may never see a predator, and the flock will never be disturbed. This is why roaming is a common problem livestock owners have with the Great Pyrenees, and they are not always suitable for small acreage or farms.
Karabash (AKA Anatolian Shepherds) Anatolian Shepard is sometimes confused as a blanket term for all Turkish dog breeds and it is very easy to see why, the 3-4 breeds they originated in Turkey are essentially the same breed but are all different as they came from different regions and villages and were bred to look or act a certain way. The name Karabash means "black head" as most dogs of this breed have the same tan body and black head. I believe it is a very different breed from its Turkish cousin the Kangel (also a tan dog with a black head but much larger and more aggressive than the Karabash). The Karabash or Anatolian Shepard is a large muscular dog from the highAnatolianPlateau in modern Turkey, where summers are hot and very dry and winters are cold. TheAnatolian Shepherd Dogslived outside all year round and for centuries it was used as a combat dog in war and for hunting, It was particularly valued for the victorious battles it could fight with wolves. As a sheepdog, it was bothered by neither fatigue nor bad weather and today it is still used as a sheep dog as well as a LGD. Slightly larger then its french cousin, the Great Pyrenees, Anatolians stand roughly 27-32" and 88-160 lbs. Clocked by visitors driving alongside fenced property containing a herd guard, Anatolians have been observed running at speeds over 35 miles per hour. They can leap into the air, turn and come down in front of, or on, the shoulders of the animal behind them, which ever they choose. With their agility, they do not need excessive weight to fight off predators as does the Great Pyrenees. As their speed increases, they will single-track, which is ideal for narrow paths. As you can see this cannot be called a laid back or lazy breed but they can still be incrediblygentle and tender with their charges and can pick up and carry an egg without leaving a single scratch on its shell.
Akbash (White Head) The Akbash Dog was found in rural country, serving as a livestock protection dog in Turkey for millennium. The lifestyles of Turkish rural villagers has not been influenced by modernization and the villagers still needed to dig wells, herd their sheep, protect the flock from wolves and bears. Akbash Dogs are large, with males measuring approximately 29" to 33" at the withers and weighing an average of 100 to 130 lbs, and females measuring 26" to 29" and weighing 80 to 100 lbs. Color is almost always solid white and there are two varieties of coat, long and medium and both are equally acceptable and interbred - both coat types may appear in the same litter. Both coats are quite weather resistant and afford protection from extremes of heat and cold. The Akbash Dog is completely dedicated and devoted to its owners and any animals in its charge. These dogs possess intelligence and courage, making them natural guardians. Their independent nature allows them to respond swiftly and without guidance in an emergency. Their loyalty and protective instinct make them ideal home and estate guardians in addition to their more traditional role of guarding livestock. Due to their strong maternal instinct, Akbash Dogs begin to bond to other living creatures at a very early age and have been known to form strong attachments to sheep, goats, cattle, horses and other livestock, to poultry or exotic birds, and other animals, and of course to people. Once bonded, even without specialized training, the dogs will not hesitate to come to the rescue of their charges if they think they are in danger, even at the risk of their own lives and the protected animals often show great trust and loyalty to their canine guardians. Their body is muscular, long-legged and slightly longer than tall, they are capable of running at great speed and have acute senses of sight and hearing. A typical Akbash Dog does not have a high activity level and is not overly playful as an adult.
Well there you have it, this is just some general information about each breed so please remember every dog is different and may not conform to its breed standard perfectly. Breeding and training plays a great roll in the temperament of each dog.
Now let me tell you some about my experience with Livestock Guardian Dogs, you can see in the pictures at the top of the page one of my first LGDs, Buddy. He is 1/2 Great Pyrenees 1/4 Anatolian and 1/4 Akbash, and is the best guard dog that I have had the pleasure of owning so far. I have owned and sold many dogs since I started raising goats almost 3 years ago and I have had many good and bad experiences. The most common problem that I had was the chasing and eating of my prized laying hens. This could not go on, so many dogs were ether sold to homes without chickens or returned to there breeders. I do not have the time to tell you about all the bad dogs I have owned so I will just tell you about the good ones. I currently own several dogs, the oldest is Buddy, then I have a adult female named Nala. She is 3/4 Pyrenees 1/4 Anatolian and under the strict training of Buddy has done very well and is now guarding the adult bucks on her own. Then I always have a pup or two that I am training ether for myself or for other people, at the moment I have a pretty little female named Iris with Buddy, she is half great Pyrenees and half Anatolian and so far is turning in to a very nice dog although she occasionally trys to play with the chickens or ducks but take corrections very well. I have to say I favor mixes over the purebreds I have owned. They seem to pick up the best qualities of each of their parent breeds and have a general overall better temperament.
Buddy has been invaluable since he started working here. Many times he has warded off predators (including hawks) and is a very gentle protector, especially of the pregnant does and babies, which are his favorites. He also has alerted us when we have an automaticwaterier spilling or if one of the does is in labor or injured (Like the time one of my lamancha yearlings tore her bottom eyelid off, but that's a story for another time). I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't know my dogs were out there defending their charges with their lives.
Below are some of the health benefits attributed to raw goat milk consumption -
• Goat's milk is less allergic - It does not contain the complex protein that stimulate allergic reactions to cow's milk. • Goat's milk does not suppress the immune system. • Goat's milk is easier to digest than cow's milk (An old statistic showed that goat's milk will digest in a baby's stomach in twenty minutes, whereas pasteurized cow's milk takes eight hours. • Goat's milk has more buffering capacity than over the counter antacids. The USDA and Prairie View A&M University in Texas have confirmed that goat's milk has more acid-buffering capacity than cow's milk, soy infant formula, and nonprescription antacid drugs. • Goat's milk alkalizes the digestive system. It actually contains an alkaline ash, and it does not produce acid in the intestinal system. Goat's milk helps to increase the pH of the blood stream because it is the dairy product highest in the amino acid L-glutamine. L-glutamine is an alkalizing amino acid, often recommended by nutritionists. • Goat's milk contains twice the healthful medium-chain fatty acids, such as capric and caprylic acids, which are highly antimicrobial. (They actually killed the bacteria used to test for the presence of antibiotics in cow's milk!) • Goat's milk does not product mucus; it does not stimulate a defense response from the human immune system. • Goat's milk is a rich source of the trace mineral selenium, a necessary nutrient, however, for its immune modulation and antioxidant properties.
Lactose Intolerant? • Easier digestion allows the lactose to pass through the intestines more rapidly, not giving it time to ferment or cause an osmotic imbalance. • Goat's milk also contains 7% less lactose than cow milk. • Additionally, most lactose intolerant people have found that they can tolerate goat's milk and goat milk products.
Goat's Milk Soothes the Digestive Tract. • Goat's milk has long been used and recommended as an aid in the treatment of ulcers due to its more effective acid buffering capacity. • Children on goat's milk have been observed to sleep through the night and remain more satisfied between meals.
• Natural milk contains many bioactive components, which serve to retard the growth of harmful organisms, and to protect the health of the person consuming them. Goat's milk contains the same important bioactive components as mother's milk.
How to Make It Breeding Goats.
I know I am not an expert on this topic but I know many people struggle to keep their goats when going through hard times in their lives. It can be hard to keep going, to get out of bed every morning and go out and feed the animals no matter if it is 32 degrees out or 103. I have had many times that I thought about selling all the goats because I thought that would be an easy fix. I have had so many set backs in breeding goats, sickness, deaths, diseases. But I read an article the other day by Tim Pruitt, a well know breeder of some of the finest Nubians in the country. I find myself asking how some people have it so easy? Well I know they don't but it seems like it when they have national level show goats, raise their goats completely naturally and sell their kids for $400 and up while I am constantly battling runny noses, worms, cocci and it seems like every other illness in the books. But one thing I found incredibly interesting in his article is this comment...
"I thought of one breeder who made it to 15 years – she once enthusiastically exclaimed to me, “I was born to milk goats!” I asked her when she quit, “What made you give up? Too many breeds?” Her reply was “too many diseases”. Standing back, I realized that although she worked outside the home, she depended on her husband’s income and since he had died, her income could no longer be used to spend on dairy goats. The love of milking, showing and caring for animals had become too much. She was not willing to cull for disease and to keep her numbers down to a manageable number. She had hired help who had not properly pasteurized the milk and had spread CAE through her herd. Had she culled diseased animals this might have never happened. Having several breeds added to the mix – overwhelmed – she quit!" Tim sums up his article by saying this...
"So how does someone succeed in dairy goat keeping? 1. Get rid of unneeded animals that don’t fit into your plans. 2. Make sure the family is on board 3. Prevent burn out and bankruptcy by keeping your numbers down. 4. Don’t buy more animals or equipment than you need. 5. Learn how to market your animals. 6. Keep it fun and wholesome – something that you just love to do because there are going to be days when you hate it."
This really hit home with me, I often would buy a goat even though they didn't fit into my breeding program just because they were in milk or because they were cute. But often this would cause more work for me, having to build extra pens to separate breeds and buy extra bucks for each of these breeds. I realized one day that I really didn't even like the others breeds, I just thought other people would like them. But having too many breeds I couldn't concentrate on my main focus and therefore my goats were not as good as they could be. In other words I was spreading myself too thin. I have found you can have a small number of bad quality does in 4-5 different breeds, or a large number of stellar quality of one breed. So just find what you want and stick to it, if you want to have several breeds that's fine just make sure you can focus on your breeding goals while maintaining a happy, healthy herd.
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