Back east, I had goats for about twenty-five years. Predators were never a huge issue. But here in Northern California, goat owners have to contend with coyotes, bobcats, bears, and, yes, mountain lions. Folks seem to address the issue by blending various Livestock Guard Dog breeds of the world. That’s what we have in Tonka, a blend of Akbash, Anatolian and Great Pyrenees.
Mostly using their sheer size and threatening postures, LGD’s have cut the predation rate by 90%, including against mountain lions.
LGD’s aren’t herding dogs in the sense of moving the herd around. They’re not general farm dogs and they’re definitely not pets. In our shopping for goats and an LGD we met some dogs that were fierce and menacing protectors of their herds. Since we will top out at about four goats, we opted for the teddy bear model.
Tonka, named for the line of toys featuring large, lumbering farm equipment, is seven months old. He’s around a hundred pounds and his hip is as tall as mine. He also loves plush toys, giving drooly kisses and showing his belly. He remembers bottles and wants the baby goat’s bottle badly. Even so, if a mountain lion showed up today, I know he’d put on a great show.
I know this because his bond with his little charge was instantaneous. In the car on the way home from getting him, I told him all about his baby goat. I told him his job was to protect her. Since he’d lived with a herd of boer goats since birth, I imagined he knew some of my words.
When we brought Ponder, the three week old doeling to him, he wiggled for joy, proceeding to lick and gum her from stem to stern. She was less thrilled at this bonding ritual, but has grown to trust him completely in two short days.
Who will join us next? We’re making great connections among various goat people. I hope to find two or three mature wethers and/or does to harvest this bumper crop of poison oak we have here. Stay tuned!