Livestock Guardians at Salad Fork Ranch
by Carol Oleksak
I was recently asked to write a
short article on how I use my Anatolian Shepherds to
guard my livestock, and the training involved. I live on
a 22.5 acre ranch in the middle of high desert, with my
nearest neighbor being about 3 miles away. On this
property I keep 3 horses, a small flock of pygmy goats,
and about 200 chickens. I have also had about 30 sheep,
until recently. Our main predators are coyotes, eagles,
and rattlesnakes, with bears and mountain lions in the
surrounding hills. In the seven years that I've been
here, first with a Komondor, and in the last four years,
with Anatolians, I have only lost a turkey to an eagle
attack. The coyotes don't seem too inclined to take on
the dogs, preferring instead to trot up and down outside
my fence line, even though they could easily enter onto
When I first moved here, my property
was surrounded only by a barbed wire fence. I kept the
sheep and goats in stock-panel pens, and the chickens in
fully enclosed chicken wire pens. The horses had half of
the property, which was only divided by a hot wire. Onto
this scene I brought "Banff", a three year old
Komondor, which I obtained from a sheep farm in Oregon.
Banff was great with all of the livestock, but he would
disappear for 1 - 2 hours at a time, about twice a day. I
learned that this was natural, as he'd make his rounds of
the area; this is a behavior also found in Anatolians.
I'd see him through the juniper trees, about 1 « - 2
miles up on the ridge behind the house. As I feared that
he would be hit by a car on the highway in front of our
place (these dogs don't fear cars), I started tying him
up on a cable (he would quickly chew through a rope)
between the livestock pens, until I could get a better
perimeter fence. The fence went up, and ever since, Banff
has had the run of the place.
Four years ago, I acquired my first
Anatolians: a one year old female, double T's Sadie, from
Toni Tooker, and a female pup, Masallah Pasit - known as
"Rusty", from Ruth Webb. I took both through a
basic obedience course to start their training. After
this, Banff takes most of the credit for training them,
although their natural instincts probably played the
biggest part in turning these dogs into great guardians.
I still keep the small stock in pens
(small pens at night, with the goats/sheep let out in a
larger area during the day). Sadie took naturally to
guarding these critters, and easily jumps the stock
panels to get in and check the goats. As a frisky puppy,
Rusty would sometimes rather chase the goats and sheep.
Banff and Sadie were real good at jumping on her and
reprimanding Rusty when she did this. I didn't allow
Rusty to be unattended with the stock until she was about
1 « years old, but, because she didn't jump the fences
like Sadie, she was used very effectively to patrol
around the outside of the pens, and in the general
Salad Fork Blondie (Maranda's Baskin X Double T's Sadie)
at 19 months.
When Sadie first arrived, she liked
to run with the horses, which are ex-racing Quarter
horses. Although she wasn't chasing, I was still
concerned that someone would get hurt. One day a horse
turned when she wasn't expecting it, and Sadie was run
over. She was quite sore for about a week, but luckily,
was not seriously injured. Since then, she has
taught 19 puppies to stay away from the horses.
Anatolians are naturally snake proof, a
trait my Komondor doesn't show. I have observed this in
both formal, obedience "snake-proofing"
classes, as well as in real situations in the field. They
appear to become wary of snakes at about 10-12 months of
age, and will bark very aggressively when one is present.
I have been alerted by the dogs many times of snakes
around my stock, house, and barn area.
The Anatolians are also reasonably
successful in guarding against birds of prey. Eagles are
a problem, as they strike from a higher altitude, and the
dogs sometimes don't see them. My Anatolians go after all
large birds that are low to the ground.
Salad Fork Soset - "Casey" (Turk Pala Simsek of
Sivas T.T. X Masallah Pasit) at 10 months.
In summary, except for formal
obedience training (which I recommend for all dogs), most
of my Anatolians have learned to guard my stock and
house/barn area through natural instinct, guided by
older, experienced, working dogs. My older dogs have
since schooled 19 pups on the fine points of guarding.
When folks buy pups from me, I recommend that, if an
older, experienced dog is not available, they plan to
spend a lot of time with the pup the first year. Allow
the pup to follow you around as you do your chores, and
take him in your livestock pens as much as possible; but
watch him and reprimand when necessary. At other times,
let him have as much exposure to your stock as possible,
so he will share a bond with them. Give him access to
areas around the outside of your stock pens, and/or
kennel him next to your stock. At what age you can leave
him with your stock unattended depends on your dog and
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