This summer’s extreme heat and lack of rain have been hard on ranches across the state. Hay prices are increasing as ranchers are starting to stockpile feed for the possibility of a dry fall and winter. The elevated temperatures have also been difficult for LGDs, especially the longer-haired breeds. Make sure to watch for excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, and dogs that are lethargic. Excessive panting, excessive drooling, and vomiting can lead to dehydration and are signs of heat exhaustion. Dogs can get heat stroke just like humans. If their temperature is over 105 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to cool them down immediately with cool water or towels soaked in cool water. Do not use extremely icy water as it can shock their overheated body and cause other issues. It is important to provide plenty of shade, cool fresh water, and water locations for your dogs to cool off in, if possible.
AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program: Events and Update
The Texas LGD Association hosted the “Using LGDs with Poultry” webinar on September 14th. Joy Combs from Providence Farm in North Carolina presented the workshop. You can watch the event on the Texas LGD Association YouTube Channel if you missed it.
We will host the AgriLife Fall LGD Field Day on October 27th at the Farmhouse Vineyards Armory in Brownfield, TX. The event will include workshops, a producer panel, vendors, and a ranch tour. Check out our Facebook page for more information. To register for the event, contact the Terry County AgriLife Extension office at 806-637-4060 or email Debbie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
NSIIC Grant Project
In late June, we completed the NSIIC grant comparing dogs bonded by producers vs. those bonded by AgriLife. The differences between the
two sets of dogs were subtle, with the amount of socialization being the main difference between the two groups. As in previous rounds, dogs bonded in hot wire pens were less likely to leave their charges than those bonded without hot wire pens. Agrilife-bonded dogs were also easier to catch than producer-bonded dogs due to longer socialization during bonding. All dogs were tracked with GPS trackers over the project duration. Five different producers were selected to receive one or two LGD puppies to bond in this project. The ranchers were selected based on the size of their herds and that they had not bonded any LGDs in the past, with a preference for having not used LGDs in the past.
The five cooperating producers saw lambing percentages increase from between 40%-100%! This increase was similar to what other producers have seen after using LGDs for just a year. Once the dogs fully mature, the producers may see even higher lambing percentages. Four of the five cooperating producers plan to keep the dogs and expand LGD use on their ranches. The other producer has decided to change over to cattle even though the dogs increased their lambing percentage. In addition, three of the five producers are also planning on keeping the GPS tracker service to monitor the locations of their dogs.
Sadly, just after the project ended, the producer that bonded and owned Cindy lost her to a snare set by a neighbor. Her GPS tracker notified him that she was on the fence line, but he could not reach her in time. Tethering is an important training procedure that we practice with all the puppies in the bonding project. It may have saved Cindy’s life if she had received the training.
For more information on each of the ranches in the project, go to our website to download the case studies. We plan to submit another NSIIC grant application this fall to train LGD puppies for aerial threats using drones. We are finalizing the application later this month. Check our Facebook page for more information on this project and other projects we are conducting using LGDs.
Bonding Project Update
Round Five Dogs
The pups are all doing well in their pastures with the bonding livestock, even in the extreme heat we have been experiencing. The Top Gun pups were bonded in pens with hot wire, while the Old-Fashioned Gals were bonded without hot wire. We are reinforcing the hot wire training in the bonding pens with an invisible fence system from the Invisible Fence Brand company now that the pups are in small pastures. We have used the system in other pastures to retrain roaming dogs like Doc and Thelma from Round 3 of the project. Hopefully, using this system on the Top Gun pups will further decrease the likelihood that they will leave a pasture as an adult dog.
If you are interested in being a cooperating producer for this round of pups or a future round, please contact me at email@example.com. The pups will be ready to go to work on ranches in late October or early November. To qualify for the bonding project, producers must have at least 250 head of sheep and/or goats, be within the sheep and goat checkoff area, preferably be within a 3-hour driving radius of San Angelo, pay for the care and maintenance of the dogs during the project time, be able to purchase successful dogs, regularly meet with AgriLife personnel for project visits and attend field days.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!