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LGD on Small Property

Discussion in 'Livestock Guardians' started by BoboFarm, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. Feb 8, 2018
    BoboFarm

    BoboFarm Overrun with beasties

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    Ok, bear with me, I have a lot of questions...

    IF we ever decide to get an LGD on our acre property, what breed would be best? Here are some factors that we have to consider:

    Our property is a little over an acre up against BLM. The top of the picture is north and the bottom is south.
    Google Map.JPG

    We have a trailhead a little over 100ft from the southern tip of our property. All critters will be in that triangle at the south end of the property (about a third of an acre). There is also a trail east of our property about 300ft from the back of the house. We cannot see these trails because we are at the base of a hill. The trails are frequented by folks walking their dogs and by folks on horseback and quads/motorbikes. We also have folks walking their dogs on the road to the west. The neighbor to the north does not live there but rents the property out with Airbnb. We really haven't noticed a lot of activity with the people that rent BUT it is "winter" so we're not sure if the activity will increase as it warms up (we have only lived here a couple of months).

    We will also always have house dogs, currently two rotties. They will not be allowed in the fenced critter yard so interaction other than at the fence will not happen.

    We also go on occasional short trips so we would have someone caring for the house and critters. Will an LGD be ok with someone coming to do that?

    Will the trails drive an LGD crazy? I don't want a dog that will be barking mad at every little sound. I understand this is the job of an LGD but is there a quieter breed? We do have neighbors across the street so I do not want to drive them nuts with a barking dog. Not to mention I can't stand a dog that doesn't shut up, especially at night. A warning/alert bark is ok. Our rotties have a wait and see attitude. They give a warning boof then wait to see if further action is warranted. This characteristic is kind of what I would want but with a dog that has a desire to be outside with stock.

    With such a small property, would we need two? I understand that they work in teams but if a predator comes, there's not much ground to cover to be at the perimeter vs staying with the stock.

    The reason why I'm keeping an LGD in the back of my mind is because I really hate to have to build a barn that can house what we want and to have to keep everyone confined until I get up in the morning to let everyone out. The chickens will be closed up at night in their coop, no problem. I can build up to a 200 sq ft building without a permit but if I keep a buck with a whether and two does separately I don't want to have to build two separate barns. Then, if we want a couple of feeder pigs, I'd have to build another barn to keep them in at night. I'd rather build shelters that they can move in and out of freely.

    Is there another option that I'm not thinking of? If I run electric at the top of the fence, will that keep predators (coyotes and bobcats) out? Bobcats are not as frequent but prints have been seen on the trails behind the property. Coyotes are much more frequent and packs can be heard in the hills behind us nearly every night.

    So, to sum it up, is there an LGD that will be happy in such a small space with all of the factors described?
     
  2. Feb 9, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    I’m on my phone, will reply later this evening when I have more time.
     
  3. Feb 9, 2018
    Bayleaf Meadows

    Bayleaf Meadows Loving the herd life

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    It seems like the predator pressure on your small property will be great. You will probably sleep better with a secure shelter. You could put a fence vertically cutting off a smaller part of the triangle in the upper right corner and build a 10' x 20' structure in the fence line. Subdivide the structure in half for two 10' x 10' sections and have one with a door opening right to the smaller buck pen, and one with a door opening left to the bigger doe area. You could even make the buck side smaller and have the wether and buck share an 8' x 10' shelter (maybe less?); the other side being 10' x 12' could then have a smaller pen built inside for a kidding stall. You need some shelter. You need a fence to keep the males and females apart. You will most likely gain more headaches trying to fit LGD's into a less than optimal situation when a good, secure shelter isn't much of a reach from your present plans.
     
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  4. Feb 9, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    We got our first Great Pyrenees when we lived in town on a small lot. Not the best for the dog, but she was free and needed a home. Her name is Paris. We had the typical 4' chain link fence. We raised it 3 feet with welded wire and we were glad we did. She hated the neighbors and hit the wire barking at them when they did dastardly things like walk outside, mow their grass or anything in their own back yard. People walked the street in front of us and a block over behind us at all hours of the day and night. She hated them too and let them know it. Motorcycles had a special place in her heart and still do. She despises them. Other dogs made her wild and still do. She will hit the fence barking at them.

    We moved to 8 acres and it is fenced into 4 pastures, our yard and a garden. She still loves the back yard, but has freedom to run all the way up to the road where she happily keeps garbage trucks and other monsters away from her sheep. We got a puppy, his name is Trip and he is 3 years old. He also barks at night. Just because you can't see, hear or smell what's out there, doesn't mean there's nothing there.

    My joke is that the dogs bark at falling acorns, deer, coyotes, horse farts, dogs, falling acorns, neighbors talking (in their own yards-sound travels) trucks, possums, buzzards, did I mention falling acorns? :lol:

    You have activity around your place. People that have every right in the world to be walking, hiking, biking, them and their dogs, on the public land right up against your fence. LGD's don't think they have the right to do that and will let them know by barking a warning.

    Right now we have new lambs and the dogs are super protective. A dog came right to the fence this morning and they both went nuts. Our male, Trip can jump the fence, but I let him know not to do that. So he only jumps the interior fences.

    A Great Pyrenees "owns" the land under their feet. They also "own" as far as they can see. If they get out, they will go to where ever they see, because it is "theirs." A hot wire will go a long way towards keeping them in "their" fence. A hot wire will go a long ways to help keep predators out, but it's not fool proof.

    Some LGD's are not so barky, but bear in mind, that is their warning to predators to keep away. Anything they think is a threat, is going to get a warning.

    Will they be happy in such a small space? Paris was happy in her back yard, now she has about an acre to run. Trip thinks he's supposed to sleep on the porch and jumps in and out at will, but does not run the whole 8 acres.

    Will a LGD work for you? Not if the barking is going to be a problem. And I forgot to mention, they can rival a bulldozer when it comes to digging. Gophers? My GP's dig caverns and sometimes catch one, which they eat. It's really not worth the holes they dig, and a snack like that is not worth me having to shovel in the holes....where DOES all that dirt go to?
     
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  5. Feb 9, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Since you're dealing with such a small "pen" area adequate fencing is your first line of defense. The second line is hot wire. The third should be adequate shelter where the animals can be secured at night and kept safe.
     
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  6. Feb 11, 2018
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    Looks like less than half an acre??? I have to vote against an LGD based on lot size and the legitimate "occupants" that will be on the other side of the fence. I would think all those "interlopers", especially the ones just out of sight, would make the dog bark all the more. "I hear it, I smell it, I will scare it away". I agree with @Latestarter on making the fence your defense. I ASSUME you plan to fence in the perimeter, if you haven't already, for the Rotties?

    If you use 2x4 knotted wire fence you should be protected against foxes, and other smaller critters like coons going through the fence. Since you live in a dry climate, carry a ground wire under the hot wire which you will run above the top the wire fence. Anything trying to climb the fence will likely have to hit the ground and hot wire at the same time. Most likely won't take more than once and they will look elsewhere for snacks. I would GUESS that the BLM land supports a reasonable amount of natural prey for the bobcats and coyotes so while there is evidence of them, maybe they will choose not to do the work needed to get over/under/through the fence.

    Can you build any quantity of 200 sq ft structures without a permit? And is that 200 sq of footprint, not floorspace? Meaning could it be a 2 story with a 200 sq ft footprint so you have room to store feed and "stuff" above the animal pens?

    What does a permit cost? Would it be cheaper to get a permit and build a single 400 sq ft or larger structure than multiple 200 sq ft structures? You could partition and repartition as needed to suit your needs. If you build it up against the dividing fence, it will be fairly close to the house, easy to run power and water to the structure.
     
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  7. Feb 14, 2018
    AlaynaMayGoatLady

    AlaynaMayGoatLady Chillin' with the herd

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    I don't think you need an LGD. As Baymule and Bruce said, LGD's bark A LOT at virtually everything. It's their way of claiming the land. I have personally been quite unimpressed with guardians on small properties (less than 1 acre) and just don't think there is any need for them when your land is that small. Basically, if you have such a limited amount of room, it's probably going to be easier/ cheaper to provide a secure shelter at night instead of getting a dog because you wouldn't be able to have very many animals anyway.
    With that said, some friends of ours with 6 (I think) young children, about 4 goats, chickens, and ducks, on a couple acres in a neighborhood have had good success with their current LGD. She is a young Great Pyrenees. They now also have a puppy male GP, so we'll see how that goes. However, they had problems with their first two or three dogs, one of which someone else had picked up on the side of the road, then sold to them for $100. (Nice person...) The children love and play with the dogs, so they help give them something to think about instead of barking at the neighbors. In my opinion, this family has the minimum amount of yardspace/ activity to keep a Great Pyrenees sane. These dogs like to have plenty of room to roam, though they can be taught where the property line is and learn to respect it.
    We were extremely blessed with our first (and only) Great Pyrenees, which we still have. She was about 11 months old when we got her and we (complete newbies that we were) didn't know a thing about her beyond the seller's statement that she was "very sweet" and liked to guard her square mile of ranchland. Fast forward to our (at the time) 8.5 acre property with lots of children, ducks, chickens, a few goats, and a couple cows. Amazingly, she actually was very sweet, even though she was scared to death when they unloaded her from the livestock trailer, and after a few problems with carrying our ducks around in her mouth and stealing eggs, she settled in pretty well. It was hard to break her of leaving the property, but she eventually learned to respect the (unfenced) boundary pretty well.
    So, if you ended up with a dog like our Inez, she might eventually learn to be happy on 1/3 of an acre, but that isn't very likely. LGD's are dogs just like any other breed, and keeping them penned with the livestock all the time in that small of an area just isn't the life they were designed to live. You are probably better off building a good shelter.
    Sorry to be discouraging, but I think that getting a dedicated LGD for your property will be a problem. Maybe a mixed breed (or even pure) LGD that is also a pet would do okay, but you can't plan on having the kind of dog that just lives with the animals with minimal human interaction. Not that I think that's what you were planning to do, but our next door neighbor had that idea and I know it is a popular misconception that guardian dogs should not be treated as pets.
     
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  8. Feb 14, 2018
    BoboFarm

    BoboFarm Overrun with beasties

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    Thanks for all your replies.

    @Bayleaf Meadows Thanks for the PM with your suggestions.

    @Baymule I know they'll hear and see much more than I could ever imagine. I just hate to be "that neighbor" with "those dogs" if you know what I mean. I also know working dogs and I don't want to destroy what comes naturally to them.

    @Latestarter This is pretty much what I've been thinking.

    @Bruce Yes, it's about a third of an acre. The perimeter will be fenced. We haven't done any fencing yet because we're waiting on the guy that's doing dirt work for us. Supervising bathroom breaks and playtime with the rotties is getting old, quick! So perimeter fencing is a priority. 2 x 4 no climb was the plan with hot wire on top. There's an ample supply of cottontails and jackrabbits around which I hope keep the coyotes and bobcats fed! I went to the local feed store down the road and the guys there said they haven't heard of a lot of predator activity in the area (even for those up against BLM). They said most use electric and have had good success with that even without closing animals up at night.

    I can build any amount of 200 sq ft buildings without a permit. The information that I found for our county only says 200 sq ft, nothing about footprint or floorspace. I planned on having a space and/or loft for storage in any of the buildings. I'm not sure what the cost is for a permit but I'm not sure I want to go through the whole process.

    @AlaynaMayGoatLady I don't think you're being discouraging. I just didn't know if there was a breed that was a bit quieter and that would be ok on a smaller property. The dog would be out at all times. I have Rotties for house dogs and they would not interact. I don't agree with LGDs, or any domesticated animal, having little to no human interaction. I believe any pet/animal that we own should have a purpose but that doesn't mean they are cared for or loved any less.


    I think we're going to not go with an LGD. Thanks everyone!
     
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  9. Feb 14, 2018
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    And I am the odd man out. I had two LGDs in a pen that was about 100' x 100' and that is being generous. Granted my dogs hate the neighbors and that is because the neighbors ride motorcycles and yell at my dogs. I now have 4 dogs on 7 acres but they only have access to that during the day, at night they are in the small area and they do not bark all night, I seldom hear them barking and I know that when they bark there is a reason. Mine all like people that I introduce them to, I have quite a few friends that do chores for me when I am gone. Mine don't dig except to make a cool spot in the summer, and then it is the same spot all of the time. I have 4' fence with a row of hot wire at the top and at the bottom, no digging, no climbing and no roaming dogs.

    If it gets super hot where you are in the summer having your animals confined to a predator proof barn might not be a good idea. I could never do it here in CA.

    The trail might be an issue...I have no experience with that. Yes, I LOVE my LGDs and will never raise livestock without them.
     
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  10. Feb 14, 2018
    BoboFarm

    BoboFarm Overrun with beasties

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    What breed do you have, @babsbag? Summer averages are high 80s low 90s and lows average high 50s to low 40s. It's always really windy here. No one will be closed up during the day. All barns will have ventilation and winds will help keep the air moving.