Livestock Guardian Animals

Livestock guardian animals are relatively new to the U.S., but have been used for centuries in Europe and Asia.  Guardian dogs, llamas and donkeys can be incorporated with other management tools for a well-grounded approach to predator deterrence.  The success of each species as a guardian depends upon a number of factors including the type, scale and location of a domestic operation.  Further, individual temperament may be the true determiner of an effective livestock guardian.  In all cases, livestock guardian animals require care by herd owners, and attention to their interaction with surroundings to perform effectively.

Dogs, llamas, and donkeys differ in their relation to herds and response to predators.  Donkeys appear to have an innate dislike of dogs, coyotes and foxes and are often aggressive to intruders.  Llamas are also wary of members of the canid (dog) family and protective of their flock and territory.  Livestock guardian dogs can be effective in a wide range of situations; they are often used in extensive operations and where bears and mountain lions are a potential threat.  Selection of an appropriate livestock guardian depends upon multiple factors. The care and management of each species, along with herd environment, are important considerations in choosing a guardian.

Livestock guardian animals are relatively new to the U.S., but have been used for centuries in Europe and Asia.  Guardian dogs, llamas and donkeys can be incorporated with other management tools for a well-grounded approach to predator deterrence.  The success of each species as a guardian depends upon a number of factors including the type, scale and location of a domestic operation.  Further, individual temperament may be the true determiner of an effective livestock guardian.  In all cases, livestock guardian animals require care by herd owners, and attention to their interaction with surroundings to perform effectively.

More Information

Choosing a Livestock Guardian Animal:  A Comparison of Llamas, Donkeys and Dogs
Using Guard Animals to Protect Livestock (Missouri Department of Conservation)
Choosing a Guard Animal (California Department of Food and Agriculture)

Livestock Guardian Dogs
Livestock Guarding Dogs Factsheet (USDA-APHIS)
Raising and Training a Livestock Guarding Dog (Oregon State University)
Livestock Guardian Dogs: Protecting Sheep from Predators (USDA-APHIS)
Livestock Guarding Dogs: Their Current Use Worldwide (Canid Specialist Group)

Livestock Guardian Llamas
Guard Llamas (Iowa State University)
Guard Llama Guidelines (International Llama Association)

Livestock Guardian Donkeys and Mules
Using Donkeys to Guard Sheep and Goats (Texas Department of Agriculture)
http://www.agr.state.tx.us/agr/main_render/0,1968,1848_5329_7078_0,00.html?channelId=5329

Guidelines for Using Donkeys as Guard Animals with Sheep (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/sheep/facts/donkey2.htm

Protecting Livestock with Guard Donkeys (Alberta Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)