Our small team of guardian dogs makes our regenerative farm possible. Without them, our chickens would be dead - preyed upon by everything from hawks, foxes, opossums, minks, and more.
It didn't take long to figure out we needed some major help with keeping our birds safeguarded from predators, when we first started farming 10 years ago. Even with the best protective netting, red flashing night guard lights, on top of going out and checking on them around the clock, we needed something more. Back then, there was not much info about how to take care of mobile pasture-raised chickens, since it was a very new, untested, radical concept. There were no books, nor was anyone doing it on a level that we aspired to. It's still a very radical concept 10 years later, even with the mass flooding of large corporate "pasture-raised" eggs in grocery stores.
We could not find anything written about such matters, and anyone in the industry we tried to ask just laughed at us keeping our birds outside, loving life in the great outdoors - camping under the stars by night and sunbathing, eating' grass and bugs to their hearts content by day. "You're asking for trouble - don't keep them outside!" Was the advice we'd get, over and over.
Our true regenerative farm symphony goes like this: Chickens are moved - coop, fresh water and all, to fresh green pasture multiple times a week during the growing season. The dogs live with the chickens and are on watch, 24/7.
In the winter, it becomes impossible to move them because their coop, as heavy as it is, becomes hard-frozen stuck to the soil. So, we also have our cold season regenerative chicken system in place - protecting our fragile chicken birdies (who originate from the tropical jungles of Southeast Asia) from both the cold and from predators - by keeping them in a protected, mostly wind-proof area that we bed deep with dehydrated pasture grass daily. The chickens eat just as much pasture as they would in the growing season (which is how we keep those beautiful orange yolks all year long!). At the end of the cold season, we then have a beautiful pack that becomes amazing compost - all of the nutrients we need generated on-farm!! Our livestock guardian dogs protect the chickens every day, all day, with no holidays nor days off - thank you doggies, we love you!
We have a breed of dog called the Great Pyrenees. This ancient breed has been protecting livestock for countless generations. Granted, protecting a big flock of chickens is a new thing for them; traditionally they have protected mountain sheep from big, scary predators like bears and wolves.
You'd think the dogs would go after the chickens, but they do not! They also understand protecting the chickens from a different set of predators. It's quite amazing that they do this all with no training. Since we got our dogs nearly 10 years ago, we have not lost a single chicken to predators. Not only are our guardian dogs a fierce opponent to any varmint that comes intruding by night, with a bark scary enough to keep anyone away, they are equally big, sweet puppy dogs who will take any chance to cuddle up in your lap, shake your hand, get pets, and any amount of love they can get.
They're hearty animals who have a thick fur coat that allows them to relish the cold - we often find our dogs swimming in the snow, absolutely invigorated by it. The same coat that keeps them very warm, also allows them to sweat and stay cool in summer.
Most folks who have bought puppies from us over the years have kept them in city dwellings. They really are a versatile breed that does great protecting their human family, pets, or farm animals. Here is an adorable customer pic of her puppy all groomed and sweet:
Incidentally, we have puppies available as of 3/17/23. Contact me if you would love to give one of these precious puppies a good home!