Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Improving and expanding the use of livestock guard dogs for small ruminant predation control

Texas is the largest sheep producing state with 14% of the breeding ewe inventory. In 2010, better predator control
was the top ranked item for maintaining or expanding flock size for Texas producers, and yet in that same survey only
5.8% of Texas respondents used Livestock Guarding Dogs (LGD). LGD can be an effective strategy for reducing
predation, but their use on large Texas range sheep operations has not been effectively demonstrated. Predator
issues are more problematic than in the past and the problem seems to be growing.

1. Place bonded LGD with 6 large sheep producers in west Texas that have not previously used LGD and monitor the
effectiveness of the LGDs on preventing predation.
2. Conduct in-depth annual training programs on rearing, socialization, and implementation of the LGD program.
3. Conduct survey to estimate current small ruminant predator losses and quantify the methods of predator control
techniques used by small ruminant producers in Texas.
4. Develop and refine curriculum to educate producers on the use of LGD on Texas sheep and goat operations.
With our assistance, we anticipate that most of participating flocks will establish successful guard dog programs. We
expect that they will experience a significant reduction in predator losses and time spent on traditional predator
trapping efforts. We expect that these large and respected sheep operations will spread this technology to their peers.
The LGD Educational Workshops will effectively train sheep producers and LGDs to provide immediate implementation
of an effective predator prevention plan. We anticipate this program will serve the small- to medium-sized operations.
The small ruminant predation survey will provide more information and industry awareness of the problem and
potential solutions. Overall, this funding would increase our ability to increase the awareness of livestock guard dog
programs and improve our knowledge and experience with helping our clientele implement successful predator
prevention programs, regardless of size of operation and management style.


6-23-2015 Update-We worked with a supplier from Montana to place 18 livestock guardian dogs (LGD) on six cooperating ranches in South and West Texas.  To supplement this project the research center purchased 2 guardian dogs from the supplier and 2 extra dogs were placed on ranch to be used as replacements, if applicable.  The extra dogs were of no cost to the project.  Upon arrival, we hosted a meeting for all participants in the project.  We covered the basics of LGD management and discuss the goals and milestones of the project.  After the LGDs were placed on the ranches, we worked closely with the ranches and LGD supplier to monitor how well the dogs were acclimating to the new environment.  There were some initial challenges that required time, effort, and travel to resolve.  In general, the majority of dogs bonded with their new livestock and provided immediate protection from predation.  Thereafter, we have continued to communicate with the cooperators to monitor the program.  Four dogs from 3 different operations have been removed from the project for various reasons.  One cooperator has aborted the project due to neighbor issues that could not be overcome.  This cooperator had 4 dogs.  Three of the dogs were used to replace dogs that had been removed from other cooperating operations.  And 1 dog was placed with a substitute cooperating ranch.   

On the six original cooperating ranches, game cameras were set up for one month prior to LGD placement to monitor predators and other game.  These game cameras will run for 1 month quarterly throughout the calendar year 2016 to monitor the effect of LGDs on predator and game movement in pastures with LGDs.  We have also purchased two GPS collars that are being placed on LGDs to monitor their movements for ~1 month.  The collars are being rotated between ranches. 

All-in-all the project has been going well.  There have been challenges along the way but we are confident that the project is accomplishing our goals.