Here’s how I think it’s going to work integrating the LGD into the mix. I’m not confident that all will play out as planned. But I’ll have to be flexible and adjust the plan as I see how things are going, because I don’t really know how things will go!
Now:LGD is in a small pen with all the sheep. The idea being that she will be lonely and bond with them, not having much other company to prefer. And, that they will acclimate to her presence, having no way to get very far away from her. This part is going swimmingly- she already easily moves amongst them with little disturbance on their part, they tolerate her calmly, and she really seems to like them.
She is starting to try to play with them dog-style a little bit, which is not ideal, but expected. The lamb is already a good 20lbs, so should be able to remove himself from her silliness if he needs to, and the rest of them are big enough to butt her if she gets on their nerves. As the other ewes lamb, I’ll remove them to a separate pen for as long as I can, to give the lambs a chance to grow a little before having to contend with the dog.
The other good thing that’s happening now is the LGD is barking at night and barking at anything that approaches the pen. This should be putting the coyotes on notice that there is now a big dog in the picture. Hopefully they’ll just start steering clear of anyplace they hear her barking. And she’ll be gaining confidence that when she barks, she is able to make intruders leave.
ASAP: get that dog more tame and leash-broken. The 1st day she was here; she was stressed, and fairly demure. The 2nd day, she was feeling her loneliness, so was very solicitous of our attentions. But by the 3rd day, she’s bonded to the sheep, and is playing a bit of keep-away with people and getting very silly. Before she can leave that pen, she needs to come when she’s called and be able to walk reasonably on a leash. I suppose those are the only two people skills she’ll ever need to have!
Soon: catch the llama and move her up to the pen, so she can also acclimate to the dog. Fill in the gaps under the gates to make it harder for coyotes to get into the pasture.
At the end of the month: move the dog and all but three sheep back down to the pasture. Keep the three ewes that are due in March up by the house, with the llama, until they all lamb and can be turned back out. Since I don’t know when the Jacob ewe is due, I may let her take her chances pasture-lambing rather than have her potentially penned up all spring, waiting for her due date.
I’ve been planning to buy portable electro-net fencing in the future, so I can utilize it to do rotational grazing. That purchase is now higher priority, because I feel it’ll be safer to move the dog and sheep down into a smaller area within the big pasture. That way, the dog and sheep can spend more time bonding, the sheep won’t get too far away from the dog’s protection, and the hotwire will offer some protection from coyotes to all of them until things are more stabilized.