Our new guardian dog pups arrived at our farm in October of last year. We decided that since we already had an excellent guardian for our chickens (our Maremma, Ben), we would raise the pups, and begin their guardian dog education with Ben as their teacher. So, we built a moveable pen for the pups near our moveable chicken house. At first, when the pups were really tiny, they spent quite a bit of time in their pen, just getting used to all the chicken activity around them. Then, gradually, they spent more and more time out with the chickens- all the time under the watchful eye of Ben. He taught them to respect livestock- sometimes a very difficult job for energetic puppies surrounded by chickens! It was by far the easiest training period we have ever had- Ben was on the job 24/7!
|Ben and the puppies guarding the chickens|
|Leia watching Miel, a new mom and her kids|
After Christmas, we decided that the pups were ready to go to work on their own- when they were only 4 months old! We moved them to our goat field, and they immediately figured out that their new job was to guard our goats. All of Ben's lessons about respecting livestock were transferred to the goats and the pups went to work right away. They got used to life with the adult goats over the winter and were ready for their really important job of protecting our Spring goat kids.
Now, the goat kids are about a month old, and no longer in danger of fox attacks- soon, we will be moving the pups (who are both around 70 lbs. now!) over to our sheep field to prepare for the arrival of our lambs in a few weeks.
It is really wonderful to watch dogs at work, doing the jobs they have been bred for. Our guardian dogs are important members of our farm team; without our chicken guardian, we would not be able to keep our 135 hens out on the pasture to range freely. Now we don't have to worry about fox or coyote attacks- those predators look for easier meals elsewhere.