The Guardian Way – June 2022

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Summer has arrived and I think we have had more days over 100 degrees already than all last year.  While the drought hasn’t broken, several of the ranches we manage have received some rain bringing a little bit of optimism.  We could still use a lot more rain (or optimism), however. 

With hot conditions and wet weather, make sure to check your LGD’s neck for hot spots under their collars.  They can lead to serious infection if not treated quickly.  It’s also that time of the year that rattlesnakes are active.  Make sure you vaccinate your LGDs in case they are bitten!  It has helped our LGDs recover from bites in the past. 

AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program Events and Update

2022 Spring LGD Field Day workshop in Ozona. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Redden 2022)

Our Spring 2022 LGD Field Day was held on May 13 in Crockett County at the 4-H Livestock Barn in Ozona.  The day consisted of several workshops by AgriLife personnel, a producer panel, and a ranch tour.  Capital Farm Credit sponsored a great lunch, and the Texas Farm Bureau sponsored the morning refreshments.  Over 35 people attended the event that was sponsored by several local businesses in Ozona.  We would like to thank the following generous sponsors of the event.

 

 

Gold Sponsors:

Capital Farm Credit

Koolin’ Klothz

Nestle Purina

Ozona National Bank

Sheep & Goat Predator Management Board

The Ozona Stockman

Triple C Hardware & Lumber

Silver Sponsors:

Cauthorn, Griffin, and Leonard Ranch Insurance

Lone Star Tracking

Texas Farm Bureau Insurance

 

Bonding vs. Socializing vs. Acclimating

At a recent event we overheard several producers talking about raising their LGD puppies.  They were using the terms bonding, acclimating, and socializing interchangeably.  Is there a difference in these terms when they are related to LGDs?  Yes!  We often hear producers share these terms when discussing how to raise young LGDs but often we have different definitions for each term. We thought it was time to try to clear up the meanings of these important terms. 

Bonding

Bonding refers to the process of taking weaned puppies and placing them in a pen with livestock for

LGD Johnny, in a bonding pen at the AgriLife Center. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2020)

several weeks to a few months to form an attachment to livestock that the dogs will guard as adults.  The purpose of bonding is to create a strong connection to a certain specie or species of livestock while the puppy’s brain is still developing and forming attachments.  It is important to bond your puppy with livestock as soon as possible, as the puppy’s brain development in that area drastically slows about 4 months of age.  Bonding after that age may cause weaker attachments to form which may lead to dogs roaming away from their charges.  Bonding pens should be escape proof and contain a safe space for your puppy should it be bullied by livestock.  Our feeding stations double as a safe space for our puppies in the bonding pens.

Socializing

Socializing your puppy is an important process to perform during the bonding period.  Socializing refers to teaching your puppy not to fear contact from humans.  This is an important step in the bonding process as an adult LGD that cannot be caught can be a liability to producers.  To socialize your LGD puppy, spend approximately 5 minutes, three times a week, petting, brushing, and gently rolling the puppy over on its back.  Check the puppy’s ears, teeth, and paws during this time.  You should also expose young dogs to leash training and riding in a vehicle or trailer.  Some producers may also want to crate train their LGD during this time.  Gradually start out with a couple minutes for each item and then increase the time as the puppy ages.  This should give the puppy enough interaction to be socialized as an adult dog.

Acclimating

Acclimating on the other hand refers to the process of bringing in other animals such as herding dogs, horses, cattle, etc. for the puppy to become accustomed to seeing and working around.  This is important to do while you are bonding your puppies to livestock so that the puppy learns that these other animals are not a danger to them or their charges.  Acclimating your puppy can be done easily while your puppies are in the bonding pens.  Simply bring the other animals into the bonding pen or your puppy out to visit the other animals so that it learns not to fear them.  You should acclimate your pup to theses other animals and any other ranch personnel that may interact with them regularly during the bonding process.

LGDs & The Bonding Project Update

Round Four Pups

Reba, Marsha, and Betty were all happy to be released from their bonding pens in late May. Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

The pups were released from their bonding pens into larger pastures with additional livestock and other puppies in mid-May.  The feeding trial comparing two different Purina Mills puppy chows was started when the pups were released.  The pups and feed are weighed weekly to see how much the pup’s weight has increased and the amount of kibble that has been consumed.  We will continue the feeding trial for 60 days.  Make sure to check back for an update on the results of the study.     

Adult Dogs

Sadly, we lost one of our adult LGDs from the Read Ranch in Ozona in May.  Max, a Great Pyrenees X

LGD Max with his Angora charges. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2020)

Akbash, was 9 years old and had been at the ranch for many years guarding our Angora goats.  Max never left his charges for any reason.  He contracted Ehrlichiosis from a tick bite a few years ago.  Recently he started losing weight again and then developed a severe inner ear infection which affected his ability to walk.  We treated him with antibiotics, but the Ehrlichiosis had already done more damage to his body systems, and he stopped eating altogether.  At that point our vet recommended that he be euthanized.  The best defense against Ehrlichiosis is to prevent the infection by using an approved flea and tick medication.  Not all products will prevent this disease.  Make sure to check with your veterinarian for product that defends against this disease.

Doc and Thelma have been doing well using the invisible fence collars.  Neither dog has left the two pastures they are being rotated between.  Sadly, Thelma was diagnosed with Ehrlichiosis in late May and had to be kenneled for several weeks.  She will be returned to the invisible fenced pastures as soon as she is done with her treatment of antibiotics.  We are planning to release both dogs at the Martin Ranch in mid-June and track their movements to see if they leave the ranch boundaries again.

In closing

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 bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/ 

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

The Guardian Way – May 2022

Pasture of blue bonnets and Indian paintbrush flowers in Washington County, TX. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

April showers in some parts of Texas helped the beautiful blue bonnets and Indian paintbrush flowers bloom!  While the area south of San Angelo got a good soaking the last week of April, San Angelo did not receive as much.  We are still anxiously awaiting a good storm at the Center so we can stop buying livestock feed, other than dog food.

AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program Events and Update

We held our second LGD question and answer session on Facebook in early April.  It was great to see more producers join in live this time and post questions they needed answers to.  Our next Facebook Live LGD Q&A session will be held on June 9th at 3pm.  Place your questions in the comment section of the advertising post for the event and we will do our best to answer them during a Facebook Live video.  The questions with the most likes/loves will be answered during the live session so make sure you vote!  Registration is not required for the live event.  Check out our Facebook page or the AgriLife Center – San Angelo website for more information.

The next webinar in the LGD series will be held on November 17, 2022, at 3pm so make sure to save the date on your calendar!  Dr. Catherine Lord will be discussing bonding and socialization development in puppies and dogs.  She is a postdoctoral associate in the Karlsson Lab at The University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and a former student of LGD researcher Dr. Raymond Coppinger.  I hope you can join us live for this event.  Check our Facebook page for more information or the AgriLife Center – San Angelo website to register for the event.

We have LoRa GPS tracking systems installed at both the Read Ranch in Ozona and at the Sonora Station.  The systems are working well and providing 15-minute updates on the locations of the dogs.  The LoRa system acts like a repeater station.  The trackers send the data to the LoRa tower located on your ranch, which in turn sends the data to the cellular provider.  The benefits are lower monthly costs, longer battery life and more frequent updates of the dog’s locations.  The disadvantages are that the initial startup is more costly than traditional cellular trackers as a tower must be set up for the trackers.  In addition, the system only has a four-mile radius from the tower so larger ranches may need an additional tower to provide enough coverage.

LGDs & The Bonding Project Update

Round Four Pups

The 16 NSIIC grant puppies are all doing well in round four of the bonding project.  I visited the eight puppies that are with cooperating producers in late April.  Several of the producers are using bonding pens while one has chosen not to.  It will be interesting to see how all the pups turn out as adults with several different training methods.  The pups should all be released from their bonding pens into small traps or pastures in mid-May.

We are starting a feed trial with the puppies at the Center this month.  Once the pups are released in mid-May, we will begin tracking their weight gain and compare two different types of Purina Mills puppy chow.   Each week we will weigh the pups to determine how much feed they consume and if they have any performance differences.  The pups have all figured out how to enter the radio frequency identification (RFID) doors that were placed on their feeding stations last month.  We hope to use these doors on all our feeders to stop varmints from eating the dog’s food.  The main problem that we have run into is retraining older dogs to use the RFID doors.  We tried for several months last year to get a group of dogs in Ozona to use the doors, but they refused to enter the stations.

Adult Dogs

The invisible fence system for retraining roaming LGDs was installed in early April at the Center.  Before the dogs were released into the

Invisible Fence training collar for Doc. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

pasture, we checked the geofence and found a few spots that needed to be moved father out.  The company reprogramed the collars and checked them to make sure they were working correctly.  Next, we did some short training for the dogs with the collars on tone only and finally with the stimulus setting also.  Both dogs reacted well and were left in the pasture.

On the second day we discovered a glitch in Doc’s collar that kept it from working correctly.  We quickly got it fixed by the company and he joined Thelma out in the pasture at the Center.  Neither dog has left the pasture so far and will not even come close to the fence line.  We are working to get the tone eliminated so that the dogs fear the fence instead of the tone sound.  We will be rotating the dogs weekly between two different pastures.  That way the dogs learn not to cross all fence lines, not just a specific pasture boundary.

Doc’s and Thelma’s travels for a day in the invisible fence pasture at the Center. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

Our hope with this project is to permanently change the dogs’ behavior or at least modify their behavior to not roam as often.  The batteries in the collars only last 2-3 days which is not practical for most producers.  The system would be good for producers with older pups that have started to roam and need corrective training.  A small trap could be set up and the dogs placed in it until they are fully mature.

Johnny and Speck One both from the Martin Ranch, had injuries again this month.  We found

Speck One in the kennel at the Center for an injured rear paw. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

Johnny with a small gash on his shoulder which may have been from a feral hog again.  Luckily after cleaning it up, he didn’t require stiches.  Speck One developed some sort of an abscess on his right rear foot.  It caused the skin to sluff off leaving his paw raw.  He had to be kenneled for a couple weeks at the Center.  Both dogs will be returned to the ranch in Menard after their injuries are healed.

In Closing

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 bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

 

The Guardian Way – April 2022

Springtime is here, and we are anxiously awaiting April showers to grow May flowers at the AgriLife Center.  Lambing and kidding season is upon us.  Seasoned LGDs love this time of year.  They seem to be quite curious and interested in newborns.  Maybe they are developing a connection with the animals that will require a lot of attention to keep predators away.  Or maybe they are just anxiously awaiting the opportunity to clean up the afterbirth and placenta.  Likely both.  Unfortunately, younger dogs can be a bit too curious and playful with newborns.  It is advised to keep a close eye on them if they haven’t been around newborns before.

 AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program Update

Our first LGD question and answer session was held on Facebook last month.  Several producers post questions prior to the event and during the live video, as well.  We have decided to make it a regular event on Facebook.  Place your questions in the comment section of the advertising post for the event and we will do our best to answer them during a Facebook Live video.  Questions with the most likes/loves will be answered during the live session.  Our next event will be held on April 7, at 3pm.  Registration is not needed for the live event.  Check out our Facebook page or the AgriLife Center – San Angelo website for more information.

Our Spring 2022 LGD Field Day is scheduled for May 13 from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. in Crockett County.  The event will be held at the Crockett County 4-H Barn at 1301 Avenue AA, Ozona, Texas.  Contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Crockett County at 325-392-2721 to register for the event.  Presentation topics will include health care, nutrition, and GPS trackers.  There will be a producer panel and tours of ranching operations utilizing LGDs to protect small ruminants.  Check out our Facebook page for more updates on the field day.

With Covid-19 restrictions lifted, our in-person workshops and field days will replace some of our webinars.  Our next webinar in the LGD series will be held on November 17, 2022, at 3pm.  Dr. Catherine Lord will be discussing bonding & socialization development in puppies and dogs.  She is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Karlsson Lab at The University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.  Dr. Lord was a student of Dr. Raymond Coppinger who performed countless hours of research in the 1970’s through the early 2000’s on LGDs and canine development.  I am very excited to have her present for us and I hope you can join us live.  Check our Facebook page for more information or the AgriLife Center – San Angelo website to register for the free event on Zoom.

LGDs & The Bonding Project Update

Round Four Pups

The eight pups were released from the 60’ X 60’ pens after four weeks into the one-acre bonding pens.  The livestock in the bonding pens have

Feeding station with an RFID dog door attached. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

been rotated twice.  All the pups are being bonded as pairs due to space.  Everyone is doing well with socialization, leash, and tether training.  They seem to have separation anxiety when I am leash and tether training them.  For instance, the pup that is tethered usually cries most of the time, while I am walking the other pup.  They are not crying as much as the tether time increases and they get more familiar with the process.  It will be interesting to see how they do once they are released into the large pasture at six months of age.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) doors placed on their feeding stations this month.  We will be conducting a feeding trial with the pups starting in May.  The feeding trial will compare two different Purina products to determine how much feed they consume and if they have any performance differences.  In addition, this should teach the dogs to use the RFID door at an early age.  Our hope is to use these doors on all our feeders to stop varmints from eating the dog’s food.

Round Three Dogs

Doc and Thelma in the kennel at the Center in San Angelo. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

We removed Doc and Thelma from the ranch in Menard as they had begun to roam frequently to a neighbor’s ranch.  In addition, they were taking other dogs with them to the neighbors ranch.  We placed both dogs in a kennel for a week.  Next, we returned Doc the next week to the ranch and his roaming stopped for exactly a week.  He then roamed several miles away.  We decided to bring him back to the Center to be kenneled again.

Doc and Thelma will stay in a kennel at the Center until late March.  At that point we will have an invisible fence system installed for one of the pastures.  We will be testing the system with them to see if we can change their roaming behavior.  If the invisible fence works to change their behavior, we will consider this tool for Johnny, Sara, and Sally.  As of now, they don’t roam off property.  However, they roam from pasture to pasture, which includes crossing a public road.

The invisible fence system we are having installed uses a collar that has a GPS tracker and an electronic mechanism that creates an audible

Pasture 9 South at the AgriLife Center. This pasture will have an invisible fence system. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth 2022)

and electronic stimulus to the dog when it approaches the boundary.  The company claims that the unit will permanently retrain the dog to stay within fence boundaries.  The dogs will be placed in a approximately 220 acre pasture.  There will be other livestock and LGDs in the pastures around them which will provide a temptation for these two dogs to go visit.  We will keep you posted on their progress in the coming months.

In closing

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 bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

The Guardian Way – March 2022

AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program Update

Our Spring 2022 LGD Field Day is scheduled for May 13 from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. in Crockett County.  The event will be held at the Crockett County 4-H Barn at 1301 Avenue AA, Ozona, Texas.  Contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Crockett County at 325-392-2721 to register for the event.  Presentation topics will include health care, nutrition, and GPS trackers.  There will be a producer panel and tours of ranching operations utilizing LGDs to protect small ruminants.  Check out our Facebook page for more updates.

We are no longer hosting bimonthly webinar presentations.  With Covid-19 restrictions lifted, our in-person workshops and field days will replace some of our webinars.  Our next webinar in the LGD series will be held in November of 2022.  Check our Facebook page for more information as the event gets closer.

LGDs & The Bonding Project Update

Cold Weather

It’s important that young LGDs being trained have a good shelter and several lives

Wilma and Mike enjoying the cold weather in early February. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

tock to bed down with during severe weather situations.

The younger dogs do not have enough body mass to stay warm in freezing temperatures.  All the puppies in the National Sheep Improvement Center (NSIIC) bonding project fared well in the ice and snow in early February.  We were a little concerned this year with the extreme wind-chill factor this February, and the younger age of these pups.  The younger pups were running around enjoying the frigid weather each day we checked them.  They had plenty of bedding to keep them warm and 4-5 ewes to bed down with.  We also placed a small dog crate inside each shelter for extra protection if they needed it.

Betty wasn’t wanting to get leashed trained one day! (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

All eight puppies have been doing well with tether and leash training.  A couple were a little stubborn at first with the leash training, but they have all overcome their fears.  We started them off at two minutes for leash and tether training and we increase the time by two minutes each week.  All pups are also given a short truck ride each week to acclimate them to traveling to new locations in a vehicle.

Once they get released from the bonding pens, they will be introduced to herding dogs also.  It’s important to rotate the livestock in your bonding pens every few weeks so that the dogs bond to a species and not specific animals.  Bonding to specific animals may cause the dogs to roam looking for those animals later in life, if the stock are culled.

Round Three Pups

The TV Sitcom Stars and the Legends & Icons puppies from the third round of the bonding project all “graduated” last month from the

program and are officially adult dogs now!  Laverne, Squiggy, Doc, Wyatt, Thelma, and Louise, will no longer be tracked for data collection in the project.  The pups bonded in hot wire (Wyatt, Laverne and Squiggy) all seem not to roam or roam much less that the other three dogs.  Squiggy has not roamed at all, and Wyatt has roamed a couple of times.  He also showed up at the ranch headquarters once.  Laverne has roamed a couple of times but based on her tracker data it seemed that she was following some sort of animal.  Most likely it was a coyote as the producer had seen evidence of one in the pasture she traveled into.

Of the three dogs not bonded in hot wire, Louise seems to roam the least.  Louise was a single bonded pup and when she has roamed, the cooperating

Typical day for Doc (light blue line) and Thelma (light green line) on the far side of the ranch. The sheep are the pink & red lines. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

producer has always found her with another flock of his sheep that do not have a LGD yet.  Doc and Thelma were pair bonded and are roaming weekly to other parts of the ranch away from their sheep.  They often end up at another rancher’s headquarters about two miles from the Martin Ranch.  It seems that sometimes the dogs may be following AgriLife personnel that have done work in Menard when they leave the ranch.

The picture to the right is not one of those times.  The dogs have roamed to another part of the ranch that has two younger dogs guarding goats.   A few days after the picture above, Thelma had returned to her sheep.  Doc had returned to the west side of the ranch but traveled north onto another ranch.  Hopefully as Doc and Thelma mature a little more, they will stop roaming as much.

In closing

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 bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

 

 

 

The Guardian Way – February 2022

AgriLife LGD Program Update

On Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, at 3 p.m.  Lauren Stump, DVM, from Nestle Purina will be the featured guest speaker for the LGD webinar series, titled “Canine Nutrition for Working LGDs.”  Here is the link to register for the webinar.  In addition, the webinar will be broadcast live on our  k page.  The video will be recorded and posted to our YouTube Channel as well.

We have scheduled our Spring 2022 LGD Field Day for May 13 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. in Crockett County.  The event will be held at the Crockett County 4-H Barn at 1301 Avenue AA in Ozona.  Contact the Crockett County AgriLife Extension Office at 325-392-2721 to register for the event.  Presentation topics will include health care, nutrition, and GPS trackers.  There will be a producer panel and tours of ranching operations utilizing LGDs to protect small ruminants.

What are the top LGD qualities?

Producers frequently ask what the best qualities are in a livestock guardian dog.  In this months “The Guardian Way” we will discuss what we feel those top qualities could be:

  • Strongly bonded to their livestock. A LGD that is strongly bonded to their livestock rarely roams leaving their charges unprotected.  This is probably the most important quality a LGD should have.  LGDs that roam are more likely to be hit by cars, shot, poisoned, or caught in a snare.

 

  • Parents are working dogs of LGD breeds. It’s important to use LGDs from working parents and LGD breeds because you greatly increase the chances that the dogs will be successful guardians of your livestock.  LGDs have been bred for thousands of years by herders in Europe to have decreased prey drive instincts.  By using non-LGD breeds your chances of the dogs chasing, stalking, biting, and killing your livestock greatly increase.

 

  • Defends territory from all threats. A top quality LGD should protect your livestock from both ground and aerial predators.  While not all LGDs guard livestock against aerial predators, some dogs will.  Some producers/breeders feel that this behavior is instinct while others believe that this is a learned trait in the dogs.  Regardless of how or why the dogs defend against these threats, a top quality LGD should guard against them.

 

  • Match human/LGD socialization to management.  Interactions between people and LGDs, particularly in the first few months of life, will affect how LGDs bond to humans and livestock.  Although each LGD is unique, they have inherently different aptitudes.  The best LGDs are those that receive the right amount of human interaction early in life so that they will remain committed to their charges and will also approach people in a friendly manner when they encounter them.  It is unclear how much socialization is needed.  It will likely vary depending on the dog and the style of livestock management.  The research efforts we have ongoing limit human socialization during the bonding phase to around 5 minutes per dog, two to three times per week.  Research conducted in the LGD Bonding Project has not shown a correlation with highly socialized dogs roaming more to find human contact than moderately socialized dogs.  It’s important for producers to remember not to reward dogs for leaving livestock.  It is often perceived that a dog may be over socialized because it returns to locations with humans.  Producers regularly feed the dogs assuming they are hungry, or they place them into a pen with feed until they have time to return the dog to the pasture.  This practice is reinforcing the bad behavior of leaving livestock and roaming to find humans.  Do not feed or praise your LGD anytime they have left livestock!  When the dogs are found at your home or headquarters, they need to be scolded and immediately returned to their charges.

 

  • Understands basic canine commands and training. LGDs should understand at least three basic commands along with knowing their name.  The commands of “no,” “come,” and “stay” should all be taught to your LGD during the bonding phase.  These three basic commands should cover the common commands needed for a working LGD on most ranches.  Commands such as sit and down may be taught to your LGD, but they are generally not needed in large livestock operations.  Smaller producers may want to teach their LGD these additional commands.

LGDs & The Bonding Project

Female Legends of Country Music: Dolly, Reba, Patsy and Trisha. Eight-week-old Great Pyrenees x Akbash pups. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC) Bonding Project got underway with the purchase of 16, eight-week-old puppies from three different LGD breeders in Texas.  Eight of the pups went directly to producers for bonding while the other eight pups stayed at the AgriLife Center and will be trained and bonded by AgriLife personnel.  Please welcome our newest puppies at the center, the Female Legends of Country Music, the Flintstones, and the Brady Bunch.

The eight pups kept at the AgriLife Center were placed into our bonding pens with four to six head of Dorper ewes.  Since the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center is funding this phase of the bonding project, we will not be bonding any of these pups with goats as in the past.  The pups will stay in the 60×60 enclosure for one month and then they will be released into a

The Flintstones: Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

one-acre bonding pen until they are 6 months old.  After that, the pups will spend two months in a 100-acre pasture with more livestock and dogs before heading off to the five cooperating producers to be with the other eight dogs that the producers bonded themselves.

The Brady Bunch: Mike, Greg, Peter, Bobby (hiding from camera), Carol, Marsha, Jan and Cindy (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

In closing

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 (tamu.edu).

To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, please contact me at bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

The Guardian Way – January 2022

AgriLife LGD Program Update

On Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 at 3 p.m. we will be presenting our next webinar in the LGD series.  You can register for the Zoom presentation

National Sheep Industry Improvement Center logo.

on our Facebook page by clicking on the blue “Go to Link” button or on the AgriLife Center’s website under the events section.  We will broadcast the webinar live on Facebook.  The video will be recorded and posted to our YouTube Channel as well.

We have selected five producers for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, NSIIC, grant.  Producers or AgriLife personnel will bond the 16 puppies purchased from breeders in Texas.  The grant will measure the success rate of 16 LGDs on large operations with varying styles of bonding protocols.  Two to four freshly weaned LGD pups or bonded adolescents will be placed on ranches.  Stay tuned for more updates on this research effort.

New Additions

We welcomed two new LGD bonded pups to our program in December.  Sally and Sara are now 7-month-old Akbash x Anatolian x Great Pyrenees cross pups.  The pups were purchased from a breeder in Texas.  The breeder bonded the pups with goats.  Sally

Sally, one of two new bonded pups at the AgriLife Center. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

Sara one of, two new bonded pups at the AgriLife Center. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

and Sara joined the other three dogs in Menard that guard our goats at the Martin Ranch.  The pups were rebonded for seven days with several meat goats upon their arrival.  Afterwards, they were released with the other dogs and goats on the ranch.  You can check our Facebook page @TAMUlivestockguarddog for weekly updates on those pups and the rest of the LGDs at the AgriLife Center.

LGDs & The Bonding Project

Wyatt decided to try to make friends with a porcupine for the third time this past year.  Sadly, Wyatt didn’t learn the first two times he got quills in his mouth and face.  This time he decided to paw at the porcupine too.  Wyatt was taken to the local vet to have several of the quills removed.  His left front paw became infected.  Wyatt spent a week in the kennel at the Center after having to have surgery to remove a quill that broke off in the top of his paw!  Wyatt’s doing better now after antibiotics and some rest.  Hopefully his New Year’s resolution will be not to try making friends with the porcupines at the Read Ranch in Ozona.

Wyatt in the kennel at the Center recuperating from his porcupine quills. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

Thelma is still roaming in Menard with her two partners in crime, Doc and Johnny.  Thelma and Doc or usually Johnny roam to a neighbor’s ranch about once a week.  Sometimes they return on their own and other times we must pick them up and bring them back to the Martin Ranch.  Luckily the neighbor has LGDs also and understands the issues with yearling pups misbehaving.  Thelma and Doc will be graduating from the bonding project at 18 months of age in February.

The Thelma and Doc should start to mature and settle down soon.  Normally I would have separated two siblings that were causing problems together.  However, we are short of dogs currently to cover all our needs.  We decided to keep Doc and Thelma together and try to work with them during these “teenage months.”  Other than weekly roaming, the dogs have done well in the project.

Doc and Thelma with yokes on at the AgriLife Center in April of 2021. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

If you follow the dogs in the bonding project, you may remember that Doc and Thelma were constantly roaming to a pasture next to their bonding pen pasture as young pups.  At that time, we placed yokes on the dogs which worked well and stopped them from climbing under the fencing.  However, no one lives on that ranch or is there regularly to hand feed the two dogs, so a yoke is not an option.  They do have GPS trackers on so we can monitor their movements.

Thor roamed frequently for several months as he was maturing.  Once he was about 2 years old, he settled down.  Thor still roams, but it’s rarely more than 100 yards beyond the perimeter of his charges’ pasture.  Doc and Thelma will hopefully follow this pattern with any luck.

Closing

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 (tamu.edu).

To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, please contact me at bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

The Guardian Way – December 2021

AgriLife Logo

AgriLife LGD Program Update

For 2022 we will be adding a spring and fall field day back into our schedule.  They will replace some of our LGD webinars.  The webinars will be held twice a year, rather than every other month next year.  If you have topics that you would like to hear discussed please contact me at bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu.  We are currently working on locations for the spring field day.  Check out our Facebook page for more information on upcoming events.

On Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 at 3 p.m. we will be presenting our next webinar in the LGD series.  You can register for the Zoom presentation on our Facebook page by clicking on the blue “Go to Link” button or on the AgriLife Center’s website under the events section.  The webinar will also be broadcast live on Facebook.  In addition, the video will be recorded and posted to our YouTube Channel.

National Sheep Industry Improvement Center logo.

We are in the process of locating puppies and producers for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, NSIIC, grant.  It will measure the success rate of 16 LGDs on large operations with varying styles of bonding protocols.  Two to four LGDs will be placed on ranches as either weaned pups or as bonded adolescents.  The dogs will be equipped with GPS trackers once released from the bonding pens.  The dogs will be monitored for approximately 2 years.  The project will focus on large scale sheep operations.  Stay tuned for the updates of this research effort.

LGDs & The Bonding Project

Thelma and Doc are still roaming with Johnny from time to time.  They seem to follow trucks as they leave the ranch through one specific gate.  Hopefully as they get closer to being 18 months of age they will start to grow out of this behavior.  Thor continues to roam also, but it is not far from his stock anymore.  He regularly patrols the adjacent pastures at the AgriLife Center.  Johnny has healed up well from his injuries in October and is back guarding his sheep with the two yearling dogs.  Laverne and Louise are doing well with a cooperating

Louise waiting for her tracking collar batteries to be changed. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

producer.

Dog #1 has also returned to his guarding duties in Menard.  He put weigh back on quickly and was taken back to his goats in early November.  Dog #2 is still at the AgriLife Center.  He acquired an eye infection and is still under conditioned for his size.  Dog #2 is slowly putting weight back on. He was treated twice with antibiotics for the eye infection.  It was discovered that since he had lost so much weight from the Ehrlichiosis that it caused Entropion to occur in his right eye.

While Entropion is commonly seen in young sheep and goats, according to our vet it can happen in most animals.  The vet operated on Dog #2 and add a few sutures to the eye lid to keep it from rolling inward until he gains enough body condition back.  It will be a few months before he can return to Menard.

Miley is doing better from spear grass sores in her rear leg. She was taken back to Menard after being at the Center for several months.  Miley has quickly taken on her old duties as the lead dog with the sheep.  We hope that her presence will keep the younger dogs from roaming as much as they have been.

LGD Breeds: Which is Best?

We received several questions from producers about breeds and which breeds are best recently for their operation.  There isn’t much research available on breeds and/or what breed is best for a particular situation.  There are a couple research projects from the 1980’s and 1990’s that suggest some breeds may have different tendencies over others.  More research on LGDs needs to be completed.  Researchers can’t currently say with any certainty, what LGD breeds are better suited than others for a specific type of ranching operation.

Producers should find a reputable breeder in their vicinity that breeds dogs that fit their operation.  If the ranch is in an area that is hot, a short haired breed like Akbash or Anatolian Shepherd might be a good choice.  Likewise, if the operation is in cooler climates, longer haired dogs like Maremmas may be better.  Some breeds, based on research from the 1980’s and 1990’s, such as Komondors tended to be more aggressive towards humans.  While others such as Akbash and Maremma tended to be more aggressive towards other dogs.  Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd received higher scores on effectiveness.  While Maremmas tended to stay with the herds more than other breeds.

In one study, Akbash tended to be more playful and hurt more lambs than other breeds.  However, several of these projects were only surveys from producers which tend to be based on observations rather than scientific study.  At this point there is not enough research-based evidence to make a strong decision for a specific breed of LGD for a ranch operation.

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 (tamu.edu).

To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, please contact me at bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

 

 

The Guardian Way – November 2021

Fall 2021 LGD Field Day

The Livestock Guardian Dog Field Day in Fredericksburg on Oct. 8 was a great event with producers attending from all over the area.  It was nice to finally see people in person at an event.  I would like to thank the AgriLife Extension Service office of Gillespie County for their help with the event, the Roeder Ranch for allowing us to hold the event under their pavilion, and all our presenters.  We would also like to thank the following generous sponsors of the event:

2021 Fall LGD Field Day at the Roeder Ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Redden 2021)

Gold Sponsors:

Capital Farm Credit        Crenwelge Motor Sales                 Fiesta Winery

Fredericksburg Winery                  Hill Country Refrigeration             Kowert Real Estate

Lochte Feed                 Lone Star Pump Service                      Lone Star Tracking

Nestle Purina                          Pedernales Veterinary Center

Pig Brig Trap System                       Sheep & Goat Predator Management Board

Silver Sponsors:

Bluebonnet Furniture           Creative Awards & Trophies             First United Bank

Fredericksburg Veterinary Hospital                         Gillespie County Farm Bureau

Hill Country Propane       Napa Auto Supply             Security Bank & Trust

Exhibitors:

Behrend’s Feed & Fertilizers         D&D Fence & Rentals        Lone Star Tracking        Pig Brig Trap Systems

LGD Breeders:

Fritz Southdown’s

AgriLife LGD Program Update

On Thursday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. we will be presenting our next webinar in the LGD series.  You can register for the Zoom presentation on our Facebook page by clicking on the blue “Go to Link” button or on the AgriLife Center’s website under the events section.  The webinar will also be broadcast live on Facebook.  The video will be recorded and posted to our YouTube Channel as well.

We received a grant from the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC) to measure the success rate of 16 LGDs on large commercial operations that are experiencing different styles of bonding from 2 to 6 months of age.  The project will last 2 years and help sheep producers gain a better understanding of how to bond LGD puppies to livestock.  Stay tuned for the updates of this research effort.

LGDs & The Bonding Project

Johnny, Doc and Thelma are still randomly roaming in Menard.  They generally go to the same neighbor’s ranch each time.  We have tried several different things to stop them from leaving, but none of them has effectively stopped the dogs from leaving the ranch.  For those that are new to the blog, Doc and Thelma were not bonded in hot wire pens.  Johnny was bonded in a hot wire pen and was not roaming until Doc and Thelma were added to the ranch.  While we are still working to collect enough data on the impacts of certain bonding styles, it does appear that our more socialized dogs are roaming more often than our LGDs that are less socialized.  Especially at the Martin ranch, which we suspect is because there is less human activity at this ranch than our other properties.  Hence their attraction to the homestead at the neighboring property.

Johnny with a large gash on his left side, most likely from a feral hog. He had a smaller injury on his right shoulder also. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Lopez 2021)

Johnny was injured last month, most likely by a hog based on the vet’s examination of the injuries.  He spent a few days at the vet’s office recuperating and is back out guarding his Dorper ewes and lambs.  Luckily, he is socialized and was easily caught by one of the ranch hands.  We are currently spending approximately five minutes per dog three times a week directly socializing them to humans.  This was decreased from five minutes four to five times a week in the first round of dogs that we bonded.  We found that some of those dogs were overly socialized toward humans.  We will decrease the next round of puppies that we bond to five minutes of socialization twice a week.  When we socialize the pups, we gently roll them over, check their teeth, ears, and paws.  We also rub and pet them all over their bodies and we brush the longer haired dogs, so they get used to having mats in their fur taken out.  In addition, we leash train, tether train, and give truck rides to all the pups each week.

Squiggy is doing well and is over his chest infection.  He is getting along with Queenie in Sonora quite well.  Miley has been released from the kennel and is guarding stock in the pens at the Center.  She is moving around much better now and is slowing gaining weight.  Hopefully she will be able to return to one of the AgriLife ranches soon.

Miley hanging out with some sheep in pens at the Center. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

We had two other dogs placed in the kennel last month.  The dogs were from the Martin Ranch and they were the neighbor’s dogs that liked the ranch so well, we traded for them.  However, these dogs are not well socialized to humans and we could rarely catch them prior to their health issue.  This contributed to the contraction of the disease because we couldn’t treat for parasites.  After an examination by our vet, it was determined that they had the tick disease, Ehrlichiosis.  Dog #1 was in remission from the disease while his brother had an active infection.  Dog #2 was treated for 21 days with antibiotics and is now recuperating in the kennel.  Dog #1 has put weight back on and will be returning to the Martin Ranch in early November to guard the meat goats.  Dog #2 will need to be in the kennel for several more weeks until he has gained enough body condition to guard his charges again.

If you ranch in Texas south or just north of highway I-10, it’s important to keep your dogs up to date with flea and tick medication.  Ehrlichiosis is moving farther north each year as our climate changes according to our veterinarian.  The disease causes weight loss, anorexia, fever, depression, lethargy, and respiratory issues in LGDs.  The only way to prevent infection is to prevent ticks from feeding on your LGDs.  Once the initial infection has passed, the disease lays dormant in the bone marrow of the dog and reoccurs during times of stress to the dog’s immune system.  Regular health checks and body condition scoring of your LGDs can help catch the disease before your dog becomes too weak to fend off an infection.

If you enjoyed the 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 (tamu.edu).

To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, please contact me at bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

 

 

 

The Guardian Way – October 2021

AgriLife Logo

AgriLife LGD Program Update

We are currently in the final stages of the second round of the LGD Bonding Project.  If you would like to know more information about our bonding project, check out our next webinar on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m.   You can register for the Zoom presentation on our Facebook page by clicking on the blue “Go to Link” button or on the AgriLife Center’s website under the events section.  The webinar will also be broadcast live on Facebook.  The video will be recorded and posted to our YouTube Channel as well.

We look forward to seeing everyone in person on Oct. 8 in Fredericksburg at the Roeder Ranch.  We will be hosting our first in person LGD field day since the fall of 2019.  We will have several workshops from guest speakers, a ranch tour of Fritz Southdown’s, and a producer panel along with LGD breeders and a few vendors at the event.  Check out our Facebook page @TAMUlivestockguarddog for more information.   You can register for the field day by contacting the Gillespie County Extension Office at 830-997-3452 or via email at donna.maxwell@ag.tamu.edu.

LGD Bonding Project

Squiggy returned to Sonora and was doing well for a few days, but his cough returned, and the vet placed him back on antibiotics again.  We will keep you posted on his progress.  Miley is still in the kennel and has recuperated from the spear grass infection in her rear leg, but she is not gaining weight.  After speaking with our vet, it was determined that Miley had Ehrlichiosis!  She is in remission currently so with good feed and rest she should start building up muscle and fat reserves again over time.

Thor and his goats travels on a weekend in September. The red area is the pasture they are supposed to be in! Thor is the blue line. We found the goats scattered across his travels. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

Thor is doing well at the Center with some replacement nannie goats.  He is still roaming but not as far, it’s usually been over to a mesquite tree and water trough next to his pasture.  I was very upset one weekend because I saw him traveling all over the Center pastures on the tracking app.  After coming to work Monday morning, I discovered that the goats had broken out of the pasture in two different locations and Thor was only following the herd.  Hopefully he stays by his goats this time and can return to the Martin Ranch in Menard with this set of replacements for good.

Doc and Johnny have been roaming again in Menard.  In early September after having a helicopter fly the ranch to control feral hogs, Doc ended up at a neighbor’s ranch over a mile away.  We placed him in a corral for 7 days without stock or other dogs.  We returned him to his charges and Thelma after the week and he has not roamed since then.  Johnny roamed in mid-September to a different neighbor’s ranch but returned on his own.  Wyatt is still doing great in Ozona and is usually near his older mentor Max.

Max and Wyatt with their Angora charges. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Green 2021)

 

It’s important to do regular health checks and body condition scores on your dogs on at least a monthly basis.  We discovered in the middle of the summer that our dogs in Menard were losing weight.  We tried several things from decreasing the amount of feed placed in feeders, so it didn’t spoil in the heat, to adding insecticide tags to keep out beetles, but their consumption did not increase.  By late summer we were having to supplemental feed the dogs with wet food which was time consuming and costly.  After making observations of dogs in the kennel we decided to change feeds to a higher protein and fat content.  The change has slowly increased the dog’s consumption of kibble and they are regaining weight again.  We also brought some of the dogs back to the Center for recuperation and health checks by our veterinarian to make sure they did not have the tick-borne disease, Ehrlichiosis.  Unfortunately, both of those dogs have the disease; one is in remission and the other is currently fighting the disease and was placed on 21 days of antibiotics.  For those that have read older editions of the Guardian Way you may recall that two of our dogs from Ozona have been treated for that disease in the past.  Ehrlichiosis is very common south of I-10 but is moving farther North each year according to our veterinarian.  The main way to control the disease is to keep up with a good tick control program on your LGDs and, if you see them loose weight rapidly, have them tested for the disease as it can be fatal if not treated.

If you enjoyed the 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 (tamu.edu).

To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, please contact me at bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!

 

 

The Guardian Way – September 2021

AgriLife LGD Program Update

The Sheep and Goat Field Day on Aug.20 was a great event with several vendors and some great presentations by the staff at the AgriLife Center in San Angelo.  There were over 100 people in attendance at the field day.  It was followed by the AgriLife Sheep and Goat Expo at the Spur Arena in San Angelo later that afternoon and on Aug. 21.  I gave a short presentation on GPS trackers at the field day that was well attended by visitors.

If you would like to know more information about GPS trackers, check out our next webinar in the LGD series.  On Thursday, Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. we will be presenting “GPS Technology to Aid in LGD Management.”  You can register for the Zoom presentation on our Facebook page by clicking on the blue “Go to Link” button or on the AgriLife Center’s website under the events section.  The webinar will also be broadcast live on Facebook.  The video will be recorded and posted to our YouTube Channel as well.

The new LoRa trackers on Goliath and Hulk have been working great.  The dogs have had the new trackers since June 8, 2021.  Hulk has traveled 212 miles and Goliath has traveled 190 miles as of the middle of August.  We are still evaluating battery life, but it looks like they will get substantially longer life than normal cellular or satellite-based GPS trackers.  If all continues to go well with the new system in Ozona, we will be putting in a LoRa system at the Sonora Station in the fall to replace the satellite-based trackers that only ping and update every four hours.  One of the biggest benefits to the LoRa system is 15-minute pings and updates which allow you to constantly know where your LGD is!

On Oct. 8 in Fredericksburg, we will be hosting our first in-person field day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We will have several workshops from guest speakers, a ranch tour, and a producer panel along with LGD breeders and a few vendors at the event.  Check out our Facebook page @TAMUlivestockguarddog for more information.   You can register for the field day by contacting the Gillespie County Extension Office at 830-997-3452 or via email at donna.maxwell@ag.tamu.edu.  If you would like to sponsor the event or be an exhibitor, please email me at bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu.

LGD Bonding Project

Wyatt with his first porcupine quills. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

August was a busy month with our LGDs at the AgriLife Center.  Squiggy finished his first round of antibiotics, but after a checkup at the vet’s office, it was determined that he still had the infection in his chest.  He was placed on a second round of antibiotics by our veterinarian.  His spirits are good, and his cough is gone.  Hopefully the next round of medication will cure the infection completely and he can return to the Sonora Station.

Wyatt finally discovered porcupines!  Luckily, he was found by our ranch foreman in Ozona before the quills got infected.  He was the only pup in this round of the bonding project that did not find our resident porcupine at the Center when the pups were all still here.  Miley is still in the kennel recuperating from the spear grass infection in her rear leg.  She is doing much better and slowly putting on weight.  She is getting better at walking on a leash for her daily exercises.  I’m hoping that all this time in close contact with humans in the kennel will resocialize her and make it easier to catch her when she is returned to the ranch in Menard.

Thor was doing well in Menard and staying with his charges until the first week of August.  For some reason he decided to roam to our neighbors on the east side of the ranch twice.  He was brought back and placed in the kennel for several days and then returned to the ranch.  He roamed again two days after being returned to the same neighbor’s ranch.  I brought him back to the Center and placed with some nannie kids that we will be keeping as replacements.  The nannie kids will be at the Center for several months until they are old enough to be placed at another location.  Hopefully during that time Thor matures more and stops roaming.

Johnny and Thelma’s travels in early August. Johnny is blue, Thelma is red, and Doc is green. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

Johnny and Thelma also decided to roam quite a distance one day in early August for some reason.  They travelled about 2 miles away from the ranch and were found on a neighboring ranch.  The neighbor contacted us and returned the two dogs to the Martin Ranch.  Johnny had roamed a couple times in late July, to a different ranch, for some reason.  Each time he returned on his own to his charges.  All the dogs decided to follow one of our trucks off the ranch in later August.  They were all picked up at a neighbor’s ranch and kenneled at the Center for several days.  It’s important to have collars with identification tags on them in case your dogs are found off your property.  Otherwise, our neighbors would not have known that Johnny and Thelma belonged to us until they had been taken to the local animal shelter and scanned for a microchip.  All our dog’s wear collars with ID tags and are microchipped.  Replacing a good LGD can cost several thousand dollars in time and lost

Dog collar used on all AgriLife LGDs. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2021)

production.  Make sure that your dogs are ID chipped and have collars with your contact information on them so they can be returned if they leave your property.

If you enjoyed our monthly LGD blog don’t forget to subscribe to it with this link The Guardian Way | Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at San Angelo (tamu.edu).  To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, please contact me at bill.costanzo@ag.tamu.edu 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!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMUlivestockguarddog/

Instagram: @tamulivestockguarddog  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF7YbP6bNDV7___6H8mifBA

Don’t forget to check out the Texas LGD Association on online!  Follow the organization at https://www.facebook.com/TexasLGDAssociation or check out their website!