Friday 28 February 2014

Job description

I love the fact that some comments and statements from Facebook get me thinking about many LGD related topics. I recently had an interchange with someone about Livestock Guardian Dogs that got me thinking.

So, let me throw out a few random thoughts:
Is it true that if you are a Kenyan, you are, therefore, a great long distance runner?
Are you a psychiatrist because you watch Dr. Phil?
Are you a shepherd if you live in the city, but have never had a sheep or goat before?


You see, in the dog world, we have breeds that are then placed in Groups. The Groups generally describe the similar functions shared by different breeds. For example, a Group of herding dogs would include the Border Collie, Rough Collie, Bearded Collie, Australian Shepherd, Kelpie, etc.

Now, just because your breed falls into a specific Group,
does not necessarily mean that your dog actually does this job.

A working sheepdog is, in my opinion, a herding dog working almost daily in its job of moving stock, penning them, and gathering them.
In other words, they work together with the handler to move livestock.

A “Border Collie” is in the Herding Dog Group, but it is not necessarily a working sheep dog. The same applies to the Rough Collie; it falls into the Group of Herding Dogs but, in all honesty, very few Rough Collies, today, are actually out working cattle and sheep.
Some simply, do not even have any instinct or desire to want to work livestock.
Just because it is placed into the box “Herding Dogs,” that does not mean that it is a herding, stock moving,
and therefore,
a working sheepdog.

Now, on to Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs).

Simply, because a breed falls into the “Sheepdog” Group,
that does not make it a sheepdog (the Saarloos Wolf Dog also falls in this group!).

  To me, LGD is a job description.
The job entails living 24/7/365 in with the livestock; its job is to protect the livestock from predators.

When I see ads for LGDs where the dog is lounging on the couch, living as a family pet, kenneled, or kept chained up (away from stock), it is not a LGD to me.
 It may be a Great Pyrenees, Maremma, Sarplaninac, or a Kangal, which are breeds…
but that still does not make it a LGD.

How can it be a Livestock Guardian Dog if it is not out living with the livestock?

Puppy buyers need to be aware that not all LGD breeds are actually Livestock Guardian Dogs.
In addition, cross breeding between LGDs and non-livestock guardian dog breeds (herding/hunting/retrieving/pets) could end in disaster for your stock.

Being a LGD is a job description performed by dogs of specific breeds.
Without this job, the dog is still a breed,
 just not a Livestock Guardian Dog.

Monday 24 February 2014


This past weekend has been, all about
4-H with the kids.
I am the Sheep leader for our small 4-H club,
we have 5 lamb members.
They decided that wanted to organize a
Regional 4-H Sheep Day.
Traditionally, very little happens in this area for the sheep project kids,
so they decided to take the proverbial
"bull by the horns"
to organize a learning day for the  sheep kids in the Peace region.

The 5 kids,  put a huge amount of work into finding sponsors for this event.
We approached various speakers and presenters for this day,
and we organised a hands-on grooming competition.

The first clinic was given by Tommy Elliott,
he taught the kids how to prepare a lamb for show, gave reasons why you need to trim a lamb in a certain way, show prep and some grooming tips.

The next session was given by Tommy's lovely wife Rae, who explained the finer points in showmanship and handling of the show animal.
All the kids had a turn in handling and showing a sheep.
Lunch was pizza and a quiz.

While the kids were busy, we held a
cooking course
"How to Cook Lamb"
Pat Brummer, a red seal chef prepared some awesome (our) lamb for everyone to taste!


wow this was good!!

After lunch, the kids were divided into teams of two and were given a lamb to groom.
The first challenge was to halter break it, move it to its spot, and then in an hour, get it as show ready as possible. They were judged on techniques, team work, result and application of the knowledge from the morning sessions.

Once the lambs were all trimmed up, the next session was given by our local vet,
 Dr Kim,
who taught the kids
about sheep judging, how to place and  reasoning of their placement.

The kids were feeling a little tired, so the final session was a feeding workshop given by Eric.
Tired kids, sitting down in a warm room resulted in one kid falling asleep,
other than that,
 it was good session.

The consensus was that the day was fun, they learn't a lot and would like to attend another one next year.
One of the participants said they would like to do this monthly..
Uhmm.. no way, once a year is enough!

I must give a shout out to all the amazing sponsors who came forward to help us, pay for the day!
Without the small town support of these events,
 very little would happen!

Moving on to Sunday, another whole day dedicated to 4-H.
This time the club held its Public Speaking Competition.
The kids can choose to do a presentation or a speech.
Roy did a PowerPoint presentation on "Submarines and Submersibles".
Jess did a speech in the seniors category.
Her topic was "Agri-terrorism"

The kids did really well, Jess won the senior speeches and Roy was second in the intermediate presentations.
Both he and Jess move on to the District level competition, this next weekend.

This week is filled with 4-H meetings, planning of District Achievement Day,
club meetings and evaluation of the Regional Sheep day.

Thursday 13 February 2014

In the news

 I,  along with Becky Weed and Julia Stein
 recently had an interview with Marsha Johnston about being
Wildlife Friendly and what we do to prevent depredation.

Here is the link in Modern Farmer to the article.

Click on THIS LINK

The articles covers things like Llamas and of course LGD
And mentions a few other possibilities such as fencing.

Another article that came out this week in Modern farmer
covers carcass disposal in bear country.
To read that one

Click on THIS LINK

Illustration by Benjamin Karis-Nix

Sunday 9 February 2014


We still have the one pup remaining from the last litter of Sarplaninac pups we had in 2013.
The litter we called the "candy bar" litter.
Well, Hershey stayed longer and has since then undergone a name change to..
drum roll..


I have been hearing good comments about her litter mates,
 and it has been wonderful to keep track of them through email, Facebook and videos.

Due to the brutal winter weather,
lambing, other commitments and a broken camera lens,
 I have not really got around to taking new pictures of her.
Finally on Saturday,
I went out, took some time, to get these pictures of
a very fluffy,
 6 month old pup.

Most pups at this age go through a blond coat color stage,
before their grey color comes in.
They also go through this crazy hair stage,
particularly noticeable over the head and ears.

Candy is for sale and I have some people making inquiries about her.
She is  a clever pup, has been well behaved,
seems pretty relaxed about most things.

She is in the ram pen with about 35 rams,
and she has her daddy to teach her how to behave.

Learning to respect fences.

Learn how to pose for pictures.

Hanging out with the boys.

Getting told off, not to look lustfully at her daddies meat

That's better!
How to get out of the way of snarky rams.

Vuk, showing how to go "incognito"

Uhmm, no not like that.

How to be on the look out,
master the far away stare.

Looking good!

Saturday 8 February 2014

"Tell me the story"

Every morning,
when I go out to the pasture to feed the dogs
and check on the sheep,
I always have a slight feeling of apprehension.
You just never know what this day will bring.
Most mornings, the dogs are waiting for me at the gate. 
Feeding is a highlight and they usually are right there waiting for it ..
I like to think they are waiting for me, 
but more likely it is just the food I bring.
When one or more dogs are not at the gate, I start worrying,
 I run different scenarios through my head:
 is a dog hurt? 
are they out patrolling? 
has something happened?
are they hurt?
has something happened to the sheep?

The ewes are bale feeding at a fair distance from the gate,
so I quickly scan over the field,
to see if I can see something out of place.

Ravens in the pasture are certainly a very ominous sign,
 and an indicator as to what I will find.

Today, Mali (the youngest female out working the main flock) did not come for feed.
She is normally the very first one at the gate.
She loves her food and will salivate like one of Pavlov’s test dogs, in anticipation to what is coming.
She rarely misses a meal.

Today, she was not there.
No ravens.
Ewes calmly feeding.
I call.. nothing.
I start to walk out to the ewes,
and call again.
I see her sitting up. 
Ah! She is there!
As I get closer, I still do not see why she has not come.
As soon as I am within 10 meters (30 feet) she bolts off to her food. 
As Roy says, she came like a torpedo.
I look behind a bale and there is half of a (now dead) sheep sticking out from under a bale.
The poor unfortunate sheep must have lain down by the bale,
the bale must have toppled onto the sheep, killing the ewe, sometime during the night.
Normally we push bales over that are about to topple, Not really sure what happened to this one.

Mali was lying with this sheep, keeping the ravens and possibly other predators at bay.
As soon as I was close enough, she must have decided that the dead sheep is now my problem,
and she was free to go and get her food.

I really like that my dogs do watch over the dead.
I like to know what my sheep die of,
and would prefer that the dogs do eat them,
or drag the carcasses away before I see them.
If I do not find a dead sheep within about 3-5 days, they will then start to eat them.

In the morning, my dogs are my first indicator of how the night went,
 that I rely on  my dogs to "tell me the story".

Here are some photo’s from today, 
a glorious, cold, but sunny day.

Katcha has about 70 ewe lambs under her watch. 

My Swiss help, Pascal was feeding today, I was taking pictures and moving sheep out of the way.

The bale that killed the ewe...

Shadow man.

Lad brings a wayward ewe back to the flock.

My dogs are chained for feeding.
We chain when we feed the dogs to prevent fights and when we feed the ewes.
As the gates are open to drive up and down with the tractor,
I do not want the dogs slipping out, nor do I want to run over a dog.
For those who like to know who my dogs are, upfront is Mali, then Fena and at the back Lucy.

Vuk left, and the 3 bitches to the right.

Vuk, enjoying his meal.

Other, than that this incident, the past week was filled with normal chores..
feeding, hatching chicks, bottle feeding some lambs,

de-worming ewes and lambs

book keeping, and other office chores.

Sunsets are always a nice way to end the day.

Sunday 2 February 2014


What do sheep ranchers do when they have a day or two off?
they visit other sheep ranches.

Eric had some work to do in Dawson Creek, BC,
So we made it an over-nighter and decided to visit two friends.
The first visit was with Ken and Erin.
We originally got to know them through the border collies.
Ken is a keen sheepdog handler.
They have a sheep farm just outside of Dawson Creek,
so we decided to go and look at their sheep and dogs,
and, of course visit a little.

Ken and Erin have about 8 border collies at various stages of training.
It was great to meet all the dogs.
For the sheep protection they have also about 7-8 Big White Dogs.
Most of them are Akbash.

Sometimes, while taking some pictures,
 I do not notice the little details.
Looking at them on the pc,
 I can see that Eric was doing weird things to Nuge's ear.
"Eric, could you please leave the dog's ear alone..
Akbash's have floppy ears"

"No, not that either..
Honey, just don't touch the dog please..."

Thank you Erin...

Ken likes to build things,
He built this hay feeder that the sheep can push in.
He has also built a shearing table,
where the sheep get airlifted onto the table,
the table has rollers to maneuver the sheep while you can stand up straight and shear the sheep while laying on its side.
I, am not yet convinced that this is the way to go...

After this great visit, we stayed the night in a hotel that
was creepy.. stuff horror movies are made about.

We survived.

We then went to visit Brent
  with his Brabant Draught horses.

We had Brabant's in the Netherlands
and Eric, would love to have a heavy horse again,
not any draught horse,
 it has to be a Brabant!
We have had email contact with Brent for a few years now about his horses,
 and this was the perfect opportunity to go and visit and meet his horses.

Gus, the stud.

A half Brabant

Some mares, some full Brabant,
others, crossed with Percheron.

A future team perhaps?
Half Brabant, half Percheron

We had a great visit and a nice little break from the routine here at home!
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