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livestock guardian animals: llamas vs great pyr

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14875
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I have a strong opinion about this and am having a healthy discussion with another party about it.  So I wish to gather feedback from others on this topic without pushing in my own opinion.

While having livestock guardian animals is a rich topic, I would like to limit the discussion to two.  Llamas and great pyrenees dogs and their ability to protect chickens from wildlife.

I'm tempted to convey what I know on the topic, but I'm concerned that that would expose my bias. 

Anybody have experience with either?  Or, hopefully, both?  Can anybody share the pros and cons of having them as a working animal on a full farm eco system?




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Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I will be awaiting the replies! I don't have any first hand experience with either, other than caring for and being exposed to others pyrs. I was scared off the anatolians when a fellow goat breeder told me of the ones he went to pick up to protect his herd.  They had to use sheets of plywood between them and the dogs and loaded them into a horse trailer. They weren't socialized to people at all.  I have read that the canine lgd's need some time with adults to learn appropriate behaviour. I wonder if llamas might have an advantage because they wouldn't want to "play" with the chickens when young? I like having big dogs around because they are a detterent to two legged "predators" too. I like to be holding the collar of a growling dog with its hackles up when I answer the door. Sends a good message 


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Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
No personal experience, but I did read that guard animals MUST be raised from puppyhood with the stock they are intended to protect, so they think of them as 'family'.  Putting them in when they're mostly grown is too late for them to make that connection, and can turn into a major slaughter.

A friend has a llama, plus chickens, geese, turkeys and ducks. He was not raised with them, but gets along with them, and  he has absolutely no interest in protecting them from raccoons.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I have read that also and read of many people who ruined their lgd's by treating them too much like pets. I have no idea if a llama would acclimate to the herd in adulthood and protect it. It seems more likely since its more likely that the llama wouldn't have bonded to humans near as much.
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
so paul, what has your research turned up?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14875
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
There is an excellent book about livestock guardian animals.  I checked it out from the library and didn't spend enough time with it. 

In the end, it sounds like llamas can be good for some situations.  But you have to use the llama just right.  There has to be just one, so that the llama thinks of the other critters as its herd.  And the llama has to be in with the herd (chickens?).  And there are some predators that llamas can do nothing about, such as mountain lions. 

The important thing I learned is that in some cases a Llama can do as much as a great pyr.  But there are far more cases where a great pyr is going to be far more effective.

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I was just talking about your question to a friend of mine yesterday, an old farmer-girl.  She said that if you are wanting a dog to protect livestock from coyotes or wolves, you may need two dogs. Coyotes and wolves will split up and tease the dog from the front, while others hamstring him and jump him from the back.

I hadn't even considered that.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I've heard of coyotes teasing dogs out with play while there buddies lay in wait. I would hope a pyr would be wise to this but having two might be best.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14875
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I had one pyr and one mutt about five years ago.  That seemed to be about 99.7% effective. 

My reading suggests that having just one dog might be 98% effective.  But that last 1.7% would probably be well worth it. 
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
Especially if you have expensive stock!
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
And that 1.7% probably means any given situation.  As soon as the coyotes, stray dogs or wolves pull down one Arabian foal or Alpaca, the equation resets.  That could mean 1.7% every three days, which would be a horrible loss over time.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
does anyone have any experiene with maremmas? a friend just got a puppy. A horse about 1/4 mile away from her was attacked by a cougar last week.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
They look like a relative of the Great Pyrenees.

Where are you, Leah?  There have been quite a few sightings of cougars in the Lacey to Centralia WA area this summer/fall.  One of my RR passengers was all excited when he found a set of cougar tracks by the river/trestle this past summer.  They have a large hunting range, estimated locally (probably based on available food) as 75 sq miles.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I am in NE oklahoma. the presence of cougars has been denied officially for awhile but they are here. even several years ago an aquaintence of mine stayed up one night to see what was raiding her well secured chicken house and it turned out to be a cougar. Another neigbor near my freind had a mamma and her cub run across her driveway earlier this year when she was coming home. I think that the normally reclusive cougar population here (and elsewhere) was pushed back by the human invasion and a few not so shy individuals have started to contribute to the gene pool a bit more.  the shy ones were beat back and left without territory and means to sustain themselves the few braver ones are starting to fill in as their population grows.  near me one was supposedly sighted in a nature park. I'm a little skeptical but the park does have a major waterway that roads all over the area must go over and that creates a wildlife superhighway. I'm sure if one made its way to that park it quickly retreated when it realized the area had pretty slim pickings unless it was going to start pulling dogs out of peoples yards. "Officially" the people "probably saw a large house cat" I do remember a case in ..?england where a sighting of a large housecat got blown way out of proportion by some with a too good imagination who told people they saw a lion, but really wouldn't most people know the difference? and well.... a large house cat couldn't leave long claw marks down both sides of a horse. 
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
From the BBC (British Broadcasting Co.):

"West Yorkshire Police recently seized two captive big cats from cages at a farm near Leeds.

Their owner told police he was planning to release the cats into the wild so he and friends could hunt them.

There are credible reports big cats are becoming popular as pets among criminals - especially those involved in the drugs trade - because of their deterrent effect on intruders."

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
good grief. some people are too stupid (shortly I will reveal my former self to be one of those people). we have wildlife sanctuary here a few miles from us, you can go and feed the cats on the weekends. very reputable, the cats are well cared for and we visit often. they have lots of big cats most of which were seized or donated from private citizens. mike tysons lions are there. jsut days ago an employee opened a cage to feed a liger (against rules) and is now in intensive care. well jsut found alink and I guess he died.
http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=9271603

I know how ridiculously easy to aquire one of these big cats is. when I was seventeen my live in boyfriend and I traded several reticulated pythons and a caiman for a female african lion cub. the lady we got it from lived in a single wide trailer with at least 3 kids under 6yrs old. she won 10,000 gambling and the cub is what she bought with the money. it was living in her bathroom. us being similar idiots at the time let it run loose in our house and put it in a dog crate when we were gone. it hooked its collar on its cage while we were gone one day and hung itself. I was a complete moron when i was a kid. interestingly I had got ahold of the safari's sanctuaries owner card days before because we realized what we got ourselves into and knew we couldn't keep it. poor cat died before we got up the guts to call. thats my embarrassing story. I find it rather nice that I have lost touch with most of those from my past.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
You've stepped up and forward, sometimes no easy feat.

Here in WA, a couple were driving along a country road in December, and a huge python was moving alongside the road.  They couldn't believe it.  The guy was used to handling snakes, and the two of them managed to get it into the back of their car.  The local police put them in touch with a local herpatologist (she's the one that told me about it).

No one advertised for it, and no one answered her ads.  She is suspecting that it was stolen from out of the area, and the thieves decided it was too much for them.  She said it was in very good shape, so she thought it was probably a recent acquision.

It's a pity that people make their decisions for the moment, rather than looking down the road.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
that will make you do a double take! THey were better than I! I would have kept track of it till somebody coudl get there but wouldn't have tried to get it in the car. They get a little big for snake bags. I think back to playing with some huge 15' burmese pythons and realize now that I was real lucky that they were well fed!!! what crazy experiences start goin gthroughmy head when I think about htis stuff last time I heard anything about my ex boyfreind was that one of his gators had escaped and was shot by a wildlife officer. I mostly got out of the herp scene when I left him.  Only "crazy" thing I took with him was my wolfX. he is 15-16 years old now. its about time for me to help him move on, the rimadyl is the only thing that keeps him comfortable. although in many ways he still acts like a puppy. I will miss him, I will never own an animal as smart as him again, kinda senile now though.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Yes, sometimes we have to remind ourselves that they are dependent on us, and that we have to do what is best for THEM, not what is best for US.

Still, I've had to do it enough not to like it. 

Sue
                                      


Joined: Nov 10, 2008
Posts: 92
We will have two llamas to protect the horses from coyotes.

There is quite a population of coyotes in the area we will be relocating to, and since our last remaining horse for the time being is boarded at a farm at the base of a mountain known for coyotes there are of course several llamas in the pastures due to 7 horses, a colt and a filly running around. The young ones are the real concern, our 1500Lb quarter/draft cross really has no worries with critters, but her colt certainly does.


Llamas it is.



Laughter is the best medicine.
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Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
There was an article in the September 2008 issue of AcresU.S.A magazine that described an interesting method of predator control.  The article is "Wildlife-Friendly Predator Control", writer Barbara Berst Adams.

The concept is roughly this:  Predators have their territories.  If you kill off all the coyotes in your area, more will always come in to fill the gap. No matter how many you shoot or poison, you will always have coyotes.

So, suppose you keep 'your' coyotes, the ones who consider your farm 'their' territory. And you raise sheep.  Apparently, there is a proven method where 'your' coyotes will permanently leave your livestock alone, AND protect them from other predators when they are in the area.

It is called 'conditioned taste aversion' (CTA).  A chunk of mutton is laced with 'a very specific dose of an undetectable nausea-causing substance', then wrapped in wool and left out for the predator to find.  After the severe nausea passes, there is a permanent memory of the result of eating that kind of prey, and they make a point of avoiding that prey regardless of other circumstances.

This isn't using 'repellency', like putting hot sauce on the mutton, because the predator will just avoid sheep wearing hot sauce.  If the nausea-inducing substance is detectible, the predator will just avoid sheep with that scent.

And this isn't 'aversive conditioning', where the predator is hit with an electric shock or shot at with rubber bullets.  The coyote still wants to eat your sheep.

'With CTA... an internal desire for a certain prey is rewired... the wild predator simply doesn't want to eat calf, or sheep, or goat... '

For more information on CTA and the work of Dr. Lowell Nicolaus, go to his webiste at http://www. conditionedtasteaversion.net


For more info on Jonathan G. Way's coyote research, to to [s] http://www.easterncoyotereserach.com [/s]

That last was a bad link, edited to correct Jonathan G. Way's coyote research:  http://www.easterncoyoteresearch.com/

Sue






paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14875
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
From the reading I have done so far, my impression is that if you are going to use a Llama to protect something else, it must be just one llama.  Apparently the idea is that the Llama will consider all of the other animals to be part of the herd and will then protect them.  But if there is another llama, then the two llamas think they have a herd of two and all of the other animals are not part of their herd, so they will not protect them.

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Well, now, that's a new idea!

If two llamas were raised with sheep, they wouldn't think they were all the same?

Sue
                                      


Joined: Nov 10, 2008
Posts: 92
I do know the aussies use Llamas for their sheep.
How would one Llama take on a pack of coyotes?

I would suggest it would be snack time for the coyotes.........
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I just ran across this website http://www.llamas.co.nz/guard.htm, and there seems to be a lot of conflicting opinions.  I heartily disagree with the person who says that coyotes don't hunt in packs!

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
SueinWA wrote:
.
It is called 'conditioned taste aversion' (CTA).  A chunk of mutton is laced with 'a very specific dose of an undetectable nausea-causing substance', then wrapped in wool and left out for the predator to find.  After the severe nausea passes, there is a permanent memory of the result of eating that kind of prey, and they make a point of avoiding that prey regardless of other circumstances.


http://www. conditionedtasteaversion.net


For more info on Jonathan G. Way's coyote research, to to http://www.easterncoyotereserach.com

Sue


geez I wish that eating something that made them want to puke would keep my dogs from eating gopher. Gopher dog vomit is gross. I'm not sure that I would trust that method I know coyotes are smart but I'm not convinced that they could make the connection. I think most animals avoid food that is bad for them on an instinctual level. such as finding a particular taste yucky. not because of the after effects. half the time humans can't figure out what they ate that made them throw up. maybe the coyotes aren't hunting the sheep because they are getting free mutton. 
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
They said it's proven to work well.  Apparently the stuff that you use works quickly, so there's some recognition between cause and effect.

My Mom loved clams.  Then one day she got a bad one, was so sick she was hospitalized, and never had the inclination to eat clams again, EVER.

If we could find out what this stuff is, you could catch a gopher, add the magic ingredient, and let your dog find and eat it. 

My dog is even worse:  rock bottom dog vomit is opossum poop. 

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I'm real curious about what they use. I wonder of ipecac would work? recently i went to check out what my dog was barking at wildly and found she had a gopher out in the open. that sucker had its mouth open and was doing its best to chase her on its stubby little legs. for a little critter it was kind of frightening, she just waited for an opportune time and snagged it up. eweeee. I have had them bring opossum home but they seem so curious as to why it became dead before they had a chance to play with it. then both i and the dogs get distracted for a moment and turn back around and its gone. I don't think they have ever eaten one (that I know of) but I am sure the results would be equally disgusting.
                                      


Joined: Nov 10, 2008
Posts: 92
SueinWA wrote:
I just ran across this website http://www.llamas.co.nz/guard.htm, and there seems to be a lot of conflicting opinions.  I heartily disagree with the person who says that coyotes don't hunt in packs!

Sue


Coyotes don't hunt in packs?

Well, sitting on the back of my pickup truck one evening, I listened to a pack of coyotes take on a flock of geese on a lower pond. They were not "hunting" in a solitary fashion.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I would occasionally see a pack of coyotes early in the morning in southern Calif, trotting through the fields near Puddingstone Dam.  When I saw their positioning, all I could think of was 'skirmish line'.

While I'm sure some coyotes will hunt by themselves, I do know they hunt in packs, just like dogs and wolves.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I think it has alot to do with region. an area that has lots of small game and little pressure probably has more coyotes that hunt in a solitary fashion than an area where they must take down deer. I have seen alot of debate over this before. when I find scat right now it mostly has persimmon leftovers and some what appears to be bunny fur. don't need a pack for that. in my previoushome jsut 10 miles away it was different. It was an area that was decreasing in size as the city moved south and the wildlife was getting pressed against the arkansas river. I  always saw those coyotes in groups of three.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Additional info on the Conditioned Taste Aversion (CTA) post above...

The link to Jonathan G. Way's info (including published documents) was bad, and I've corrected it to his current link:  http://www.easterncoyoteresearch.com/

Also, I found that the "magic ingredient" used to cause severe nausea in the predatory animals is Lithium Chloride:

From the work of Dr. Lowell Nicolaus:  "... we recommended that meat baits be carefully constructed in order to hide 3.0-8.8 g of salty-tasting Lithium Chloride per Kg of meat bait  (average: 4.0 g/Kg bait) ..."

He also indicated that 'carefully' was the important word.  Other studies where the amount of Lithium Chloride was increased to several times (average 5.5) that did not have the desired results.  "Predictably, predators that consumed salty-tasting meat baits, refused to eat salty meat baits again after recovering from illness (showing that CTA had indeed been produced), but continued to attack and consume non-salty baits or live prey."

Sue





Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
so I guess that means it only works if you salt your animals! 
Steve Nicolini


Joined: Nov 15, 2008
Posts: 224
Are y'all talking about putting out bait for predators? 
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
It is bait in a sense.  For instance, if you have chickens and raccoons:  put the proper amount of that Lithium chloride in a dead chicken and let the raccoon eat it.  The Lithium chloride is not detectable, and it makes the raccoon sick and nauseous. It happens fast enough so the raccoon makes the connection between his sickness and the chicken, so it doesn't want to eat chickens again.

Sue
Steve Nicolini


Joined: Nov 15, 2008
Posts: 224
Does it kill the raccoon?  Will the raccoon poop out the lithium and contaminate a healthy forest?
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
No, it doesn't kill them, even at higher doses.  Actually, the whole point is NOT to kill them, just to make them associate killing your chickens with being sick.

It's used to treat bipolar problems in people, so it shouldn't be too toxic. 

Sue
Steve Nicolini


Joined: Nov 15, 2008
Posts: 224
huh.  Well I guess it could be alright, providing the costs are low and they make it in a local chemistry lab

Have there been studies to prove that the predator learns from the poisoning?
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Yes, see my two links above.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
Susan Monroe wrote:
of salty-tasting Lithium Chloride

"Predictably, predators that consumed salty-tasting meat baits, refused to eat salty meat baits again after recovering from illness (showing that CTA had indeed been produced), but continued to attack and consume non-salty baits or live prey."




I'm confused. so whats new, right does lithium chloride taste salty (duh..chloride..ok) if predators "continued to attack and consume non- salty baits and live prey" what is the point? how did it work? it doens't prove they associatedit with the animal it proves tehy associated it with the salty taste. I'm obvioulsy missing something here ,sorry. its probably something really obvious. 
 
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