If you raise chickens, and have for very long,
There are two ways you can use dogs to protect your flock on the homestead.
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Livestock Guardian Dogs
LGDs are super useful on the homestead. They live with your livestock and watch over them—deterring predators.
They are commonly used with sheep and goats, but you can also use them with your chickens!
Now, not just any dog can be a livestock guardian. They should be raised with the flock from puppyhood and thoroughly chicken-proofed before being left alone.
There are specific breeds that historically make good LGDs:
- Great Pyrenees
- Anatolian Shepherd
- Maremma Sheepdog
Some people try to make LGDs out of other breeds and seem to have success, but I would stick with what has been proven.
But what if your dog is grown, a different breed, and not entirely chicken proof? Can you still use them to protect your flock?
You most certainly can!
This is not a proper term, that’s just what we call Dixie (pictured above)
A watchdog will not have free access to your chickens like a LGD would have, but they can still protect your flock.
If you have a dog-proof fence around your chickens’ coop and run simply let your dog roam in that fenced-in area. If you prefer to let your dogs roam free (not recommended unless you live on like 300 acres) just turn them into the fenced area at night.
It will keep them from roaming at night and deter predators. Winner, winner no chicken dinner—hehe.
If you have your property fenced or even an underground fence for your dogs they will do a very good job of chasing off critters.
But what if I want to free range my hens?
Still place their coop in a large fenced area (they can fly over if they want) and when you close them up at night turn your dogs in that area.
This is what we do with my Basset Hound. Hounds are not known for being chicken-friendly, but she really doesn’t mess with them when they’re together. Still, she is never left unattended with the younger chickens. (The older ones fly over with her some and they get along nicely.)
At night when the automatic door closes on the coop, we open the gate and let her patrol around the grounds all night. She has a huge bark and does a good job at keeping predators at bay.
Make sure your coop is secure!
Don’t let your dogs patrol if your coop is not secure enough to keep your dog out. If you know you dog would rather break into your coop, this is not going to be a good idea for you.
You know what your dog will do better than anyone, so use your
Do you use livestock guardian dogs to protect your chickens? Or have you ever used your non-LGD to watch over your flock? Let me know in the comments!