Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quiet night

Everything was quiet in the pasture this morning, with no signs of further predation during the night. The animals were all calm, and the guardians all seemed content.

Although some may see the fact that two lambs were killed as some fault of the guardian animals, Jim and I disagree with that view. We shudder to imagine what the carnage would have been had the guardians not been there.

We could have had a surplus killing event, as a fellow sheep producer in the county experienced a week ago. She had 11 ewes killed, with the wolves eating just a little on each one, and mauling the guard dog. Another sheepman had a wolf pack come into his herd during the first week of August, killing 13 lambs and 2 ewes, and two guard dogs. I hear of these events and always remember it could easily be our ranch and our animals. While it’s two guard dogs belonging to someone else, it could just as easily be my Rant and Rena, beautiful dogs you all have enjoyed here on this blog. The last we tried to tally it up, eight guard dog pups I raised for other sheep producers have been killed by wolves. I’m not asking anymore, because I don’t want to know.


Matt Mullenix said...

Can you up the ante with more dogs? You raise more; why not keep more around? Is there some practical limit on the number of dogs you can reasonably work into your system?

Seems like you are being outgunned by more and bigger foes.

Cat Urbigkit said...

If a guard dog doesn't have enough to do, it gets bored and will hunt for predators in a wider area. Ranging guard dogs will get into trouble, getting smacked on roads, and killing dogs in the new subdivision a few miles up the river. I can really only keep two dogs busy with the main herd, and another at the house.

My friends with migratory sheep outfits keep five dogs with each herd, but those herds have 1,000 head of sheep - much bigger than mine.

The reason we're trying the Aziats is because they have been able to deter wolves. But my male (Rant) is still young and not full grown. We'll see. I'm sure he'll be challenged.

Matt Mullenix said...

Ah ha. I figured there was a practical angle. That's really fascinating, and it speaks so perfectly to the complex nature of domestication.

Developing a working breed requires work first! On top of that, you have to weigh so many variables, most of them competing or synergistic.

It is always dynamic. Breed "standards" seem positively silly in the face of shifting considerations faced in the real world...

I was a long time learning that falconry is not a sport so much as a husbandry system. With the addition of 5th and 6th generation hawks, it is a full-scale domestication process.

Dennis said...

In the Sept 2 post you mentioned wolf problems. Where is this? Is it near Magdalena, NM?