NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Smallholder sheep dogs  (Read 279 times)

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
Smallholder sheep dogs
« on: June 12, 2019, 02:04:17 pm »
I can't imagine that most smallholders need a herding dog. Most small farmers will be fine bucket training their sheep but if yo had at least 100-200 ewes, what type of sheep dog would you like to have?
I really like Welsh Sheepdog for herding that kind of numbers, I think if I had 500 or more ewes I would go for a Huntaway dog instead for driving the sheep away instead of herding them towards me.
If I were to live somewhere else on Europe I would definitelly have a guardian dog, e.g Maremma, Polish Tatar sheepdog, Caucasian sheepdog etc. As most European countries have wolves free ranging in their forests! Even in Netherlands there have recently been cases of sheep eaten by wolves - to be honest it might be a good idea to have a guarding dog in some areas of the UK as loose dogs attacks are quite common unfortunatelly.
I always wanted to have a dog, but firstly my mum was against it and now my wife is not very keen on them in till we move to a proper farm God willing.
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.
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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2019, 04:20:31 pm »
I’m a fan of the regular working collie.  But a young one that can and wants to work is a menace if it hasn’t got enough work to do.  I’m lucky that my dogs were older and more settled when I moved from a proper farm with >220 ewes to the holding here.  (We’ve just shorn our 21 sheep, of which 9 had lambs this year.). They are useful, but yes, a bucket and an extra body or two can usually manage with these numbers if need be.

One of the chaps here has a red Welsh collie, just a pet.  He’s a lovely dog, and we can’t decide whether it’s a good idea to train him to the sheep or not.  I’m erring on the side of not, in that it could be confusing for him that sometimes I take him to move the sheep, but the rest of the time he must not go towards the sheep. 

Skip is now gone, and Dot is 12, a bit slower and a bit deafer than she was.  I haven’t decided what I’ll get when she goes.  Several friends of a similar age to me have had young collies recently, and though they love them, they’ve all said it’s not something they’d recommend to anyone else our age.  The trouble is, when you’ve had a working collie, other dogs (however lovely), are just dogs. A collie is a partner, a colleague.  They think, work things out.  I’d miss that.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2019, 04:49:11 pm »
We had a Guardian type bitch, Conna.  She was a cross between an Anatolian Karabash and.....an Irish Wolfhound!  Weird cross I know.  We never intended her to be a guardian to our flock, but it's inbuilt so she spent her days sitting amongst her sheep, looking as if she should be chewing on a straw! She was aware of everything that was going on all around her and was constantly alert whilst appearing to be totally relaxed.  The only time her services were needed was when a couple of people walked onto our land and before they knew it they were faced with 11 stone of bouncing dog barking in their faces. They were not too pleased but never made that mistake again!
Originally there were two of the guardian dogs, but Rowan the sister suffered from the split in her nature caused by being half hunting dog and half guardian.  Sadly she chased a neighbour's sheep, all pregnant, through two post and wire fences, and had a go at a couple of them.  She was a bit mental anyway, attacking the other dogs (we had 6 altogether, half being looked after for one of our sons - 6 make a big pack, so trouble was inevitable).  Sadly that was the end of Rowan, as she couldn't be trusted alone with children, or other animals and we felt it right not to pass on our problem.  She was a beautiful, loving dog most of the time.


I agree about needing guardian dogs in the UK.  I wonder how they would cope with aerial predators such as Eagles?  If they could cope, then that would help keep down lamb losses in the Highlands and islands.  I would recommend though, with a large flock, at least two dogs.  I have seen guardian dogs in the Auvergne in France, but they tend to have half a dozen so they can work as a team and keep the wolves away.  They don't seem to attack the wolves and fight with them, just threaten with their prancing and a large amount of loud, deep barking.


For our smallholding sized flock we don't use a shepherd dog, but our Jack Russel when he was younger was excellent at helping bring them in  :dog:



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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 05:49:31 pm »
I looked into Guardian Dogs when I was in Cumbria, and having talked to people who use them across the globe, came reluctantly to the conclusion that it couldn’t work anywhere in the UK with public footpaths or access land.  Or possibly anywhere at all in our now litigious society, as someone trespassing on your private land may not be a defence against your dog biting someone.  And bite intruders they will, it’s their job.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 07:43:23 pm »
I looked into Guardian Dogs when I was in Cumbria, and having talked to people who use them across the globe, came reluctantly to the conclusion that it couldn’t work anywhere in the UK with public footpaths or access land.  Or possibly anywhere at all in our now litigious society, as someone trespassing on your private land may not be a defence against your dog biting someone.  And bite intruders they will, it’s their job.


Hi Sally.  I don't think guardian dogs do bite.  That's not how they operate.  They frighten the intruder off by barking and jumping around at them in a threatening way. If it works with the big bad (supposedly) wolf, then it should work with other critters, maybe even rogue dogs.
The flocks I have seen have been close shepherded, so always someone with both sheep and guardians.  It would be lovely if in Britain we had more close-shepherded flocks, as was the norm when sheep were worth real money and worth a man's wage to care for them.  In the smallholder's situation, many of us come close to that ideal, if we live on our land.  There have to be changes to British agricultural practice, so maybe the shepherd will come back  :thinking:
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

vfr400boy

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • one life live it
Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2019, 09:44:15 pm »
I looked into Guardian Dogs when I was in Cumbria, and having talked to people who use them across the globe, came reluctantly to the conclusion that it couldn’t work anywhere in the UK with public footpaths or access land.  Or possibly anywhere at all in our now litigious society, as someone trespassing on your private land may not be a defence against your dog biting someone.  And bite intruders they will, it’s their job.


Hi Sally.  I don't think guardian dogs do bite.  That's not how they operate.  They frighten the intruder off by barking and jumping around at them in a threatening way. If it works with the big bad (supposedly) wolf, then it should work with other critters, maybe even rogue dogs.
The flocks I have seen have been close shepherded, so always someone with both sheep and guardians.  It would be lovely if in Britain we had more close-shepherded flocks, as was the norm when sheep were worth real money and worth a man's wage to care for them.  In the smallholder's situation, many of us come close to that ideal, if we live on our land.  There have to be changes to British agricultural practice, so maybe the shepherd will come back  :thinking:
My friends cocasain shepherd dose not bite it pulls bits off things and people, I don’t think people understand how dangerous they are ( he was a rescue dog ) he will fight to the death to protect his flock and is twice the size and power of our shepherd, I hate to think what would happen if they got in to the wrong hands , saying that he’s grate with stock and people he knows very loyal

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2019, 12:05:20 am »
Caucasian shepherds are scary! My friend had two of those when we are in school.
Most guardian breeds will just bark and try to scare the threat away but some were bred to physically fight with wolves or bears!
I've been reading about cases of COWS eaten by wolves in Polish mountains. They were tethered cows however, although it happened at day time!
In that conditions they have to have livestock guardian dogs and lock the sheep away for the night just like we have to lock the chickens over here in the UK.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 12:08:15 am by macgro7 »
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2019, 07:32:56 am »
We had a border collie bitch from a pup via a rescue.  She was a pet.  We never kept sheep, just horses.  She must have been about 5 or 6 when we moved to a little smallholding near St Andrews.  A great place where every 4 years, without fail, the main road past the croft got resurfaced for the golf traffic.  She wasn't a guardian, but would sit outside from morning to night watching the horses (she was also quite useful for collecting buckets and bringing them in to us after feed time and other debris/litter that had blown in from the road - she liked to keep the place tidy).  We used to leave a whole bowl of shapes biscuits down in the kitchen for her, and if she thought she'd done a good job with something, or got a bit peckish, she'd go and help herself to one or two... never more than that.

Anyway one year, shortly after the resurfacing work and with traffic at its height, the neighbour's sheep got out and were merrily causing havoc.  We managed to get the traffic stopped and with just a lurcher (told to sit and stay) in the middle of the road about 20 yards from our road end, and the collie (who'd possibly only seen a couple of pet lambs at the local livery yard prior to our move) being left "to her own devices" (but under observation) the 50 odd sheep that were out, were swiftly "collected" and "brought home" up our drive to the turning area.  She then just sat in the drive and kept them there (not allowing them back down the drive or onto the house garden) until the owner came to pick them up a couple of hours later (we hadn't been able to contact him immediately as this was pre mobile phone days).

She even helped load them to his trailer (while his own sheepdog sat in the back of the car watching and whining).  Apparently his trained sheepdog was great for putting a tractor into the barn but would turn tail and run if faced with fluffy white things!

Happy days... she didn't seem confused by what was going wrong and even with sheep in the field next door never bothered them... although I could see she was keeping an eye on them, as well as "her" horses thereafter!
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
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Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2019, 07:31:00 pm »
I looked into Guardian Dogs when I was in Cumbria, and having talked to people who use them across the globe, came reluctantly to the conclusion that it couldn’t work anywhere in the UK with public footpaths or access land.  Or possibly anywhere at all in our now litigious society, as someone trespassing on your private land may not be a defence against your dog biting someone.  And bite intruders they will, it’s their job.

Hi Sally.  I don't think guardian dogs do bite.  That's not how they operate.  They frighten the intruder off by barking and jumping around at them in a threatening way. If it works with the big bad (supposedly) wolf, then it should work with other critters, maybe even rogue dogs.
The threat is enough.  If you are standing in a field and a dog runs up to you barking, and you feel threatened, you are within your rights to dial 999 and tell them that.  Especially if you are alone, and even moreso a woman alone.  They will send someone out.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Smallholder sheep dogs
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2019, 05:03:14 pm »
The threat is enough.  If you are standing in a field and a dog runs up to you barking, and you feel threatened, you are within your rights to dial 999 and tell them that.  Especially if you are alone, and even moreso a woman alone.  They will send someone out.

Good luck with that... your police must have more time on their hands than ours do!  I recently called 999 to report a road rage incident involving a taxi driver where myself and a work colleague were being verbally abused, physically threatened, and had our vehicle blocked in whilst one local nutcase (and her neighbour) were going large on the threats and 20 minutes later they phoned us back to ask if things had calmed down or if we still needed assistance.  Fortunately, in the interim, several neighbouring residents had come out and formed a cordon around us and were acting as witnesses/filming the situation.  Apparently the taxi driver concerned has made numerous threats against neighbours in the past and most had been too scared to report it, but they weren't about to see us take the brunt of it!
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

 

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