The season has come to an end and I’m feeling like I might have a bit more time now. We have been worried a bit about predators and our sheep. We talked about guard lamas and fencing and other methods of dealing with predators, but we decided to get a livestock guardian dog. Her name is Kiva and she is a really big puppy. She’s a Maremma, Great Pyrenees mix, although with the markings that she has, we suspect that she might have some pyrenean Mastiff in there somewhere as well.
We’re still working on training her, but I think it’s going to be good. She has already started bonding with some of the sheep.
When we first got Kiva, the sheep were separated. The boys were out back on the hill and the ewes were in a different pasture. We put Kiva with the boys and she quickly made friends. She chases a little, but not much (and gets scolded when she does). When she was working with the sheep she was able to approach them and even got to the point where the whether would allow her to lick his face and play with him. She really gets along pretty well with the boys, but the ewes still run from her and that makes her chase them. It’s not a great system and we are working on changing that.
Currently we have the ewes and Kiva in a relatively small pen. We also put a young ram in there because we want him to breed with the ewes. I don’t think he has succeeded yet, but we’re still hopeful. So now there is a group of sheep that sort of cower in the corner. Kiva will approach them slowly and try to make friends, but the sheep stomp their feet and chase her away. Yes, the sheep chase my dog.
The ewes are especially concerned with the dog, the ram really doesn’t care. But the ram is really interested in the ewes, but the ewes aren’t interested in the ram either. So the dog is trying to play with the sheep and the ram is trying to mate with the ewes and the ewes are chasing the dog while staying away from the ram. It’s really entertaining to watch.
We have our work cut out for us with the dog. High on the to-do list is to teach the dog the boundaries so that she stops leaving our yard. Also high on the to-do list is to help the dog bond with the sheep. We have some ideas, but we’re novices and still figuring things out.