Guardians for Goats in woods

River Buffaloes

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We need something that would protect them during the day. Which might mean deterring mountain lions (it would not be as hard as they are not as determined as at night) and fighting everything else. As to why we cannot have dogs, we are not able to provide enough maintenance for them so we want something a little easier.
Shepherds dog don't need much maintenance. They eat what the shepherd's eat, ours can also hunt.
 

Ridgetop

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Donkeys can become feral quickly. Llamas are also helpful guardian animals, but against cougars neither donkeys or llamas would be a match. (Llamas are actually the favorite prey of cougar in South America - which fact we learned after getting 2 llamas to protect our sheep and goats from a cougar! LOL Oops.)

LGDs are the best deterrents against cougar and bears. If you have a pack of wolves in the area, you will need a larger amount of LGDs - at least 4-5 - to safely protect your livestock from wolves. Cougars are stealth killers and often are deterred by barking of two or more Anatolians. Bears are also able to be run off by several LGDs. BUT this is only with normal predators. If the predator is starving or very determined to kill livestock, it will take at least 4-6 LGDs to kill a large cougar or bear, much less fight off a pack of wolves.
 

Ridgetop

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By the way, you can not get a couple LGD puppies and expect them to survive, let alone defend your livestock. You need to buy fully trained adult LGDs with experience in protecting livestock to be successful in this venture. You will have to bond them to you so that you can safely approach, handle, and feed them. You will need a minimum of 2 LGDs, probably more like 3-4 if you have cougar and wolves. Once the adult LGDs are working, you can add 6-8 month old puppies to their pack for the older dogs to train and have for backup.
 

Beekissed

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Then one has to weigh the cost of all of that....are keeping the goats worth the price of the fencing and dogs? I often see people investing a lot of money in dogs and fences to contain them, but it's just for a handful of miniature goats or a tiny flock of sheep that they are keeping for personal use.

In some areas, the price of LGDs is just ridiculously high and there's no guarantee the dog will work out, won't wander and get killed or stolen, etc. That's sort of like the people on BYC who brag that their first chicken egg cost them $2k and you have to wonder why they invested all that money for some eggs. Not even close to being worth it.
 

Ridgetop

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I try to balance my expenses with what I get in return from the sheep. Loved the dairy goats, but now they would be too much work for us without small children actually living her 24/7. I know it seems like they are here constantly, but not enough to buy more dairy goats and milk every 12 hours. To do the job we need - completely denude our 6 acres of every burnable weed or twig, they are worth it financially. It would cost us a minimum of $5,000 annually to cut this property to our fire safety standards (not the fire departments' 200' rule). We have almost been burned out twice and completely denuded earth is the only way to protect yourselves here in Fire Central.

The money we would spend on clearing the property will buy a lot of hay for the sheep. Granted the sheep take work, but now that we have our equipment set up and multiple enclosures, they are less work to care for. Particularly since they are trained to come in at night to their fold. They produce lambs easily and regularly which helps to offset their cost and puts meat in our freezer as well. Having 3 LGDs to protect them works well and the sheep recognize their protectors - again training. Lastly, we enjoy seeing our sheep on the fields. During the short hiatus between our youngest selling off in preparation for college and us bringing back sheep, we really missed small stock on the property.

However, we do have our small acreage fully fenced and have night enclosures, hay sheds, and and a small barn for lambing.

We are considering moving to another state and more acreage. The main cost of that move will be fencing. We will have to perimeter fence at least 5' high with stretched woven wire for the dogs and sheep, possibly adding another foot or so above that.. Most agricultural fencing is 3-4 strands of barbed wire which will not hold in our dogs or young lambs. Inner enclosure fences can be 4' high. The second main investment will have to be barns. One will need room for hay, straw, and feed storage and lambing jugs. Another will need to house equipment, tool shop, and other storage.

Good fencing is always the priority in keeping livestock. Forget the house renos, budget most of your money for fencing and outbuildings if you plan on keeping livestock.
 

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