Texas A&M AgriLife Research currently has 22 livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) to protect sheep and goats at four separate locations. The amounts of LGDs at each site vary based on predation, stocking levels, terrain and research projects. These LGDs are located in Crockett, Menard, Sutton and Tom Green counties. Six of these LGDs are puppies that are part of a bonding project located at the AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo.
The six puppies are split into four one-acre bonding pens. Two of the bonding pens in one pasture have hot wire, approximately 6 inches above the ground around the perimeter of the woven wire enclosure. The other two bonding pens are in a separate pasture and do not have any hot wire around the woven wire perimeter. Each pen also has four to six livestock in each pen. The livestock are comprised of wool sheep, hair sheep, Angora goats and meat goats. The puppies have a covered feeding station that they can use to get away from the stock if needed. Each pen contains a water trough, stock feeder and shelter for the dogs and livestock. The pups are socialized with humans 4-5 days a week for at least 10 minutes per puppy. The pups are also tethered for a short time, walked on a leash and driven in a truck three to four days a week.
The pups were randomly selected to be in each pen. The pups are split with two puppies together in two pens and a single puppy in each of the other two pens. This demonstration project will demonstrate how sibling behavior affects how well the puppies bond to the livestock as they mature. We are also demonstrating if the effect of hot wire in the bonding pen will keep the pups from roaming once they are mature and placed on our research ranches.
Two sets of three puppies were purchased from two different LGD breeders out of the same litter from each breeder. The puppies were all born and raised until the time they were picked up with sheep and/or goats. They are all males and they were between 7-8 weeks of age when they were picked up from the breeders. One set of pups are pure Maremma (Larry, Moe and Curly) and the other set of puppies are Akbash X Great Pyrenees X Anatolian crosses (Goliath, Hulk and Thor). More updates on the puppies and the progress they are making each month will be provided here, as well as in weekly updates on our Facebook page.
Research Specialist II, Livestock Guardian Dogs
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