The Guard at Lawrence Cottage
We do not breed or sell Livestock Guardian Dogs or Llamas. This is the story of how we protect our livestock from predators 24/7.
Here at Lawrence Cottage we are flanked on the north side by a forested ravine. There is a creek bed in the bottom of the ravine. Creek's are obviously sought out by deer, bobact, coyotes, hybrid coyote/wolves, black bears and cougars. When we started farming here at Lawrence Cottage we had very bold and large hybrid coyote/wolves. They walked right past the yard and on to the barn where the poultry lived and were taking out about four unlucky chickens per day!
We started with Cassie, the llama. Cassie did a great job of gathering the goats, sheep and chickens and herding them to the barn and then lying across the opening to deter predators! We soon realized it was not fair to expect so much of one llama!
We still had coyote & bear scat in lower part of our property, as Cassie did not roam our entire property! One morning we had huge claw marks on the barn door. In time we learned that our Guardian Dogs were very effective. We re-homed the regal Cassie to a new band of sheep. We no longer see bear or coyote scat on our property!
We purchased our first Livestock Guardian Dog, Cooper, as a pup from a farm in The Dalles, Oregon. His parents were working dogs. Cooper is mostly Great Pyrenees. He started puphood in the barn with our first Gotland ewe and her crossbred lambs! He moved to the pasture with them and was quite bonded to them! We chose a Great Pyrenees pup because in addition to guarding our livestock we knew our dog would need to have a great temperament around children and strangers. We had read this was true of the Great Pyrenees. Cooper is wary of strangers, and alerts us to their presence, but keeps his distance.
Cooper sleeps in the doorway of one of our barns when the weather is inclement. Many nights he sleeps somewhere on the driveway or under a tall fir. At lambing time he guards the lamb barn and sleeps on top of the alfalfa, where he has a birds eye view of the lambing. He comes to the house and is eager for us to come see the newest lambs! Cooper is the King of our property and roams freely. You might ask how we keep him home? Our property is fenced, but that won't keep a determined dog in or a determined predator out.
Cooper was left intact, not because we have any desire to use him as a stud, we do not. We had read that intact males are better guard dogs and we needed re-enforcements for Cassie! Cassie tolerated Cooper, but kept her distance. Eventually Cassie took over the back pasture and Cooper took over the remainder of the property.
Yes, that is a roast! Cooper is 5 years old in this photo at 147 pounds. He loves HIS sheep and HIS humans! He barks at strangers and is wary of anything unusual! He is particularly fond & protective of the lambs.
Cooper and Echo made a fabulous guard team, Cooper would stand tall and bark, pointing toward trouble with his nose, Echo would run through the brush and clear the perimeter and then return. Neighbors saw Echo approx. 20 feet from a black bear in the ravine, doing her duty, keeping her sheep safe from harm! We are sad to say Echo is no longer with us.
With the loss of Echo and lambing time upon us we purchased a pup from a nearby farm. He is from working dogs. We named him Milo, and much like Cooper he started puphood in the barn with a couple of ewes with lambs. He had an area outside of the sheep pen, but always climbed over into the sheep pen. He moved to the pasture with the sheep and is quite bonded to the sheep. Milo is 50/50 Great Pyerenees/Maremma. He seems to have no desire to leave the pasture or the sheep. He eats alfalfa right along with the sheep. Milo has settled into a great protector of our flock.
This is Milo in the Spring 2015, at one year of age. He is meeting a new ewe and her lambs.
Milo resides in our front pastures. He has been socialized to people and know basic commands, like sit. When he senses danger he bunches the sheep together. During the day he sleeps under the apple trees. In inclement weather he sleeps in the sheep shed right along with the sheep.
Our dogs hang out near the sheep and sleep a good portion of the day. At night you can hear them on duty! Guard dogs have a deep, industrial strength bark. During the day we seldom hear them bark, at night they are more active, but then, so are predators!
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