Dogs and farmer work well together

Good morning everyone,

Today, I would like to share with you an email I received from Kevin van Wyk. Kevin is a farmer who tried livestock guarding dogs (LSG) to protect his sheep and this is what he has to say:

Kevin and his two children.

Kevin and his two children.

“Update on Trakaskuilen Shepherd Dogs.

 Ally (7 yr old female Anatolian)

Ally is the best dog I have ever used in my 10 years of farming. She guards a flock on leased properties where camp sizes vary from 600-1400ha. Since her introduction there in April, I have lost only 4 sheep to jackal. If you consider what my losses have been in previous years, that is a miracle. She was given to me by a farmer in 2009, who got frustrated because she was biting goats when she was still a pup. Experience has taught me to be patient with LSG, especially in their youth. Often the ones you least expect, turn out the best. Ally is a case in point. Since her introduction I have also seen a major decrease in jackal activity and losses in the area adjacent to her flock. (+-12000ha).

Baluti (11 month old female Maluti)

Have lost 5 sheep to jackal since mid August in her flock. Prone to wander to adjacent flocks from time to time and seek out other LSG. Also a bit too friendly towards people and a bit lazy. Worried she is not well bonded to sheep, but she never really has been. Seems to be going better in the last two weeks. I still have hope for her. Only time will tell. (Typed that a while ago). She is turning into a fantastic dog now and have not lost any sheep in her flock in a month.

Capricorn (8 month old male Maluti)

Given to me as part of Cheetah Outreach Program. Has showed potential from day 1 and is now a very effective LSG on leased property in a big camp. Had one bad incident during shearing where he killed and ate two sheep. I think he got a bit excited with all the activity around shearing and may have been confused to see sheep without wool. I put him back in training pen for two weeks to settle and he has been fine since I released him. (also a while ago) Now, fast turning into one of the best dogs I have had. Saw him this morning and when I called him he didn’t want to come to me and chose his sheep over me. His flock also seem to have settled down around him.

Leo (6 month old male Maluti)

Another Cheetah Outreach dog. Seems to be struggling with hip dysplasia and doesn’t move with sheep into camp. Content to lie at self feeder so have moved him back to training camp as well. Will be reintroduced to flock tomorrow and monitored carefully. (also a while ago). Unfortunately, when I took Leo to be speyed they discovered he had severe hip dysplasia and a decision was taken to have him put down.

Virgo (7 month old female Maluti)

Given to me as a problem dog from neighbour Dirk Lamprecht. She seems to have potential to be a good LSG but prone to mauling sheep. Hope that she calms down now that she has been speyed. Still in training kraal with her sheep. Going to leave her in there until mid November.

 Mary (5 month old female Maluti)

Still in training but seems to have potential.”

One of Kevin's Livestock Shepherd Dog with his sheep.

One of Kevin’s Livestock Shepherd Dog with his sheep.

This is good to hear about Kevin’s experience and also to have proof that even if a LSG kills a sheep, he can be rehabilitated. Kevin keeps going with the following good news:

“Since I have so many dogs now my plan is to create a spreadsheet to record their movements and any activity they get up to. Sheep lost in their flocks, other animals killed etc as well as to keep track of their vaccinations etc. if and when I get to that I will share it with you guys.”

Thank you Kevin for keeping us updated with the work of your dogs and we are looking for receiving more news in the following months. Good luck!

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