Monday, June 25, 2012

A Great Pyrenees to Guard my Chickens

I am pleased to report I did some prepping this month. I just realized it, because it didn't involve food or Amazon.com!

We moved our chicks to their own fenced yard. We used old-fashioned Egyptian engineering to move the coop in there too. Then, yesterday we got a Great Pyrenees off Craigslist for $100. It's a 12 week old male we named Ivan. He is a tiny ball of fluff right now but we are confident soon he will be fur-ocious.

Here's a full-grown male, and some info about the breed:

The Great Pyrenees is a capable and imposing guardian, devoted to its family, and somewhat wary of strangers - human or canine. They are often used to guard livestock. When not provoked, it is calm, well- mannered, and somewhat serious. Courageous, very loyal and obedient. Gentle and affectionate with those he loves. Devoted to family even if self-sacrifice is required. It is very gentle with its family and children. (source)
In nature, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle (especially with children), and affectionate. While territorial and protective of its flock or family when necessary, its general demeanor is one of composure and patience. It is a strong willed, independent and reserved breed. It is also attentive, quite fearless and loyal to its duties. The Great Pyrenees' size makes it an imposing guardian. A dog of this breed will patrol its perimeter and may wander away if off lead in an unenclosed space. The Great Pyrenees also tends to growl and bark a lot unless trained against such behavior.The Great Pyrenees can be slow to learn new commands, slow to obey, and somewhat stubborn to train.(source)
Livestock guardian dogs are a smart investment for now or later. These heirloom chicks and milk-producing goats are expensive and I got them to feed my family, not the local predators! If food was a critical commodity then the protection of our resources (livestock, home, perimeter) should be an utmost priority.

Pyrenees are good for protecting sheep, goats, chickens, not to mention children and homes. Our first full day with him has hopefully been indicative of our future together. Here's how it's gone so far.
  •  learned a ton from his previous owner as we walked her farm together.
  • he chilled with my four-year-old for the hour ride home
  • got extensive de-burring
  • killed fleas with tea tree oil- he was covered! poor ears.
  • gave him a bath
  • fed him
  • played with all four kids for hours
  • met my chickens- was unimpressed and bored
  • he climbed up into the coop with the chickens for the night
  • he fussed and cried some, and calmed down within an hour
  • this morning he was chilling in the coop when I went to let everyone out- all alive!
  • he barked at our boxer who approached the chicken yard 
  • he hung out under the coop to keep cool
  • he let out a whuf to let a chick know "move over, I'm stealing that morsel"
  • when he heard the thud of watermelon rinds hit the ground, he came tearing around the coop, barking, to find out what the noise was.



I'm pleased with our first day together. It seems like he has a lot of potential. Of course, at this point, he is a fluffball and not much actual protection for the chickens. He's an investment- he needs to leave distractable puppy hood and mature.

We are discussing whether or not to get him fixed. We've been looking at Pyrenees with chicken experience on Craigslist for about 3 months. They sell really quickly. When we get our goats, I want to get another Pyrenees who will be in charge of them, and we are contemplating getting a female. 



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