The new year often brings resolutions. One of our resolutions is to body condition score, BCS, all the LGDs on a quarterly basis. Body condition scoring of dogs is like livestock, but dogs have a nine-point scale. The ideal score for a dog is 4.5. Its relatively easy to score your dog, feel down their spine and across the ribs. They should have some cover across both areas. A good reference is to hold your hand out flat with the palm down. Run your fingers across the knuckles of your opposite hand. If the dog feels like that, they are in good condition. Next, make a fist and then run your opposite hand fingers across the knuckles of the fist. If your dog feels like this, they are under condition and need more feed. Check out this video for more information on BCS.
AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program: Events and Update
Save the Date – Our Spring LGD Field Day will be held in Sonora at the Texas A&M AgriLife Sonora Station on April 14, 2023, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The field day will include workshops, producer panel and ranch tours. For more information check out our Facebook page.
Our next webinar will be held Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. on Zoom. Check out our Facebook page for more information as the event gets closer. The topic will be “What to Expect from Teenage LGDs.” The webinar will be free as always. You can sign up on our events page.
Bonding Project Update
Round Five Pups
We will be starting round five of the bonding project in late February or early March. There will be six pups for the next round. Three pups will be Great Pyrenees and the other three will be Komondor. We are excited to have the Komondor pups as this breed has not been tested before in our project.
As a reminder, the primary research objective is to determine: 1) how many LGDs should be reared in bonding pens and 2) does electric fence in bonding pens to improve guardian effectiveness and reduce roaming. Weekly updates on the pup’s progress will be posted on Thursdays on our Facebook and Instagram pages @TAMUlivestockguarddog.
Thank you to all the breeders that responded to our request for pups. We greatly appreciate the support for this ongoing research project. Producers, if you have over 250 ewes/nannies raised in large pastures and are interested in participating as a cooperating producer, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Round Four Pups
The pups in round four of the bonding project have all been doing well. The four pups (Fred, Dolly, Trisha, and Bobby) that were relocated to
a new ranch near Rocksprings have settled in well and are not roaming as much as we can tell. The solar satellite trackers have not been working as well as promised. I first had to increase the upload/ping time to one hour and then two hours. I also had to update the software as apparently there was a glitch that was causing them to use too much battery life and die. Now that this is done, we should be able to start tracking the dog’s movements more accurately.
As we mentioned last month, Trisha is continuing to chase sheep, so she still has a dangle stick on. Both Trisha and Bobby (producer bonded) seem to be perimeter dogs. While the producer is not losing lambs, he rarely sees the two dogs with his sheep. Fred and Dolly (AgriLife bonded) are always with their flock of sheep according to the producer. Other producers are seeing a variety or results with their dogs, but all are happy with the increase of live lambs that they are seeing. Some dogs are always with sheep while others are patrolling away from the herds.
Round Four and a Half Pups
Colt and Ruger are both doing well and have been released from the bonding pen into a small trap at the ranch. They are seven months old now and will be ready to go to a cooperating producer at 10 months of age. We had planned on keeping these two pups but due to the drought we have had to depopulate the ranch. Colt and Ruger will be looking for a new home in April or May of this year. If you are interested in participating in our bonding project and taking Colt and Ruger, please drop me an email at email@example.com or call me at 325-657-7311. Producers need to have at least 250 head of sheep and/or goats to participate in the bonding project.
Adult LGD Updates
Miley was retired to a small ranch in the Miles area in December. She was 10 and had some health issues recently that needed continual care. With the depopulation of livestock across our ranches due to the drought, we have been rehoming some of the older and youngest dogs we had. Sally also was rehomed in January to separate her from her sister Sara. While Sara has done better after the invisible fence training, Sally was continuing to leave her pastures at the Sonora Station to visit the office area. We returned her to the Center in San Angelo for a few weeks of additional invisible fence training and found a producer that could use her.
Queenie, the matriarch of the program, has still not found a home to retire at. She is a 14-year-old Great Pyrenees X Maremma. She never
leaves her charges but is showing her age and needs a small farm or ranch to live on. If you are interested in Queenie, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 325-657-7311.
If you enjoyed this monthly LGD blog, please don’t forget to subscribe to it with this link The Guardian Way | Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at San Angelo.
To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, please contact me at email@example.com or 325-657-7311.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program is a cooperative effort by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas Sheep and Goat Predator Management Board. Make sure to follow us on our social media sites and share them with your friends and family!