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Feature story

Guarding dogs helped to bring peace to the farm

Overview

Alena Mikulinova is a zootechnician working for more than 20 years in the farm located in Central Slovakia that is home of wolves and bears. The farm faced frequent wolf attacks on sheep in the past. The situation has changed rapidly when they started to protect their herds by electric fences and guarding dogs.


Story by

Alena Mikulinova

Location

Strelníky

Province

Banskobystrický, Slovakia


Chapter 1

starting point

Alena Mikulinova works as a zootechnician at the Bukovina farm in Strelníky in the Central Slovakia. She hasn't met wolves in her life, but the farm was exposed by the consequences of their attacks rather frequently in the past.

“The consequences are sad for us breeders as we are losing products of our job”

says Alena Mikulinova. Nowadays, the farm cares about 1100 sheep and hasn't faced cases of wolf attacks anymore. Everything has changed 6 years ago when the farm stopped using wooden fences and started to protect herds by electric ones that wolves are not able to jump over and started to breed sheep dogs that help to protect herds during day and night. It has been a long process, people had to get used to it, but it works perfectly.

Chapter 2

approach

The wolves caused rather extensive damages on herds every year in the period before the farm started to use shepherd dogs. About 10-15 sheep were injured or killed during one attack. Wolves practiced hunting of young individuals as they consider sheep an easy prey. The overall damage is very significant if farm is not protected sufficiently.

Nowadays, farms in Slovakia use guarding dogs in different ways.  The most common but least effective is having dogs on chain. In this case number of dogs need to be higher but protection is not effective enough. Some farms use guarding dogs that are on chain during the day and free in the night. Thus, the night attacks of large carnivores are under control, but herds are still not safe during the day. The most effective way is to have guarding dogs that live with their herds 24 hours a day without any restrictions. According to the new decree, it is recommended to use 2 guarding dogs for herds of up to 500 sheep and 3 guarding dogs for bigger herds over 500 sheep.

In Slovakia, the most frequently used dog breed for sheep guarding is the Slovak Chuvach. However, the farm of Alena Mikulinova decided to use the Central Asian Shepherd dog for its good and mild character and better adaptation to climate change.

“As our farm encountered frequent damages caused by wolves and other predators, we decided to use this type of guarding dogs as they seemed to be the most suitable for such work taking into account the conditions of our location”

says Alena Mikulinova.

The first dog came from Bulgaria as a 7 weeks old puppy. It´s mom and dad worked as guarding dogs for goats. It was very small when arrived and spend time in a fence where could hide from other sheep.

“The puppy started to sleep with the four sheep that protected it and was separated from other dogs so that it feels as a part of the herd”

said Alena Mikulinova. Good guarding dog should be of calm character and come from non-aggressive, but balanced parents. According to very good experience with the first dog, the farm started to breed guardian dogs as the most effective preventing measure for the wolf attacks.

Livestock Guarding Dogs

Electric fences are an important foundation for protecting herds. Through the painful contact, the predators learn to stay away from farm animals. We recommend a fence system with five taut wires, at least 90 centimeters high and with a minimum voltage of 2,000 volts. It is important to remove the grass under the fence, since otherwise the electricity is permanently discharged. Holes made by lynxes and badgers must also be removed, as otherwise the wolf uses them for digging through. Some vendors specialize in fences that are very easy to assemble and disassemble mechanically - they are particularly suitable for mobile use.

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Electric Fences

Electric fences are an important foundation for protecting herds. Through the painful contact, the predators learn to stay away from farm animals. We recommend a fence system with five taut wires, at least 90 centimeters high and with a minimum voltage of 2,000 volts. It is important to remove the grass under the fence, since otherwise the electricity is permanently discharged. Holes made by lynxes and badgers must also be removed, as otherwise the wolf uses them for digging through. Some vendors specialize in fences that are very easy to assemble and disassemble mechanically - they are particularly suitable for mobile use.

Report your experience with this tool

Blanca Berzosa

25.08.2018

This was a non-binding measure implemented by Brown Bear Foundation in the frame of Several consecutive projects included in the Programa Ursus in Several provinces in the Cordillera Cantábrica. It specifically involved Farmers, Beekeepers, Livestock risers, General public. It operated for 20 years (from 1997 to 2017) and received partial financial support from Own funds, EU funds, Private donors.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Juan Carlos Blanco or Guillermo Palomero.

Mariia Zakaliuzhna

11.08.2020

This was a non-binding measure implemented by WWF in Ukraine in the frame of Eurolargecarnivores in a transboundary region in the Stuzhytsia. It specifically involved Farmers, Beekeepers. It operated in 2017 and received partial financial support from EU funds.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Yolanda Cortés.

Ann Rebyanskaya

16.02.2021

Thank you for such an interesting engaging story. It is a great example of the nature-friendly effective tool. Hope that in future this tool will be widely available for farmers in areas where large carnivores live.

Chapter 3

outlook

Guarding dogs are not threat to humans. As they can move freely in the open space they are calm and naturally respect people passing by. Despite the dogs are big and bark loudly to make clear that they take care of their territory they are not aggressive towards tourists. It is important that tourists respect them, not approach the herds and keep the distance. According to several years of good practice experience in the farm, the combination of electric fences and trained guarding dogs are the most effective available measures that help to protect livestock and sheep herds from the attacks of wolves. 

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