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Sheep Predator Control and Guard Animals

The control of predation among sheep flocks has been a serious problem for producers since man first domesticated the sheep. The development of modern electric fencing and the use of guardian animals have much reduced the scale of predator losses where these management practices are followed. The use of Guardian animals, particularly dogs, dates back in Europe at least to Roman times. In North America livestock guardian dogs first began to be used in the late 1970s after importation of many of the older European breeds by Ray Coppinger, Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass. A livestock guardian dog is one that stays with the flock without harming them and aggressively repels predators. The guarding dog is not a herding dog or a pet but rather a full-time member of the flock. As their utility and value becomes known in Manitoba, their use is becoming more widespread. Suitable breeds include the Maremma-Abbruzzi, the Akbash, the Kuvasz, the Great Pyrenees, the Kommondor, as well as a number of other less well known European breeds. Other animals that can serve as flock guardians include Llamas and Donkeys. As with all new management practices the use of guardian animals may require some changes in the way in which you manage your sheep, and none are 100% successful. Used properly with patience and proper training and rearing there is no doubt that guardian animals will greatly reduce predator losses.

dog sitting in the sheep field


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