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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Dubois, Idaho » Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #283472

Title: Movements of domestic sheep in the presence of livestock guardian dogs

Author
item Webber, Bryson - Idaho State University
item Weber, Keith - Idaho State University
item Clark, Pat
item Moffet, Corey
item Ames, Daniel - Idaho State University
item Taylor, Joshua - Bret
item Johnson, Douglas - Oregon State University
item Kie, John - Idaho State University

Submitted to: Sheep and Goat Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2015
Publication Date: 7/1/2015
Citation: Webber, B.L., Weber, K.T., Clark, P., Moffet, C., Ames, D.P., Taylor, J.B., Johnson, D.E., Kie, J.G. 2015. Movements of domestic sheep in the presence of livestock guardian dogs. Sheep and Goat Research Journal. 30:18-23.

Interpretive Summary: As a result of successful predator reintroductions, livestock are experiencing increased predation in many parts of the US relative to a few decades ago. Of the methods used to reduce predation on livestock, livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) have been the most effective. The use of LGDs reduces predation and mitigates the need to remove predators from the ecosystem. The purpose of this study was to determine if the presence of LGDs changes the grazing behavior (i.e., distance traveled per day) of domestic sheep in an environment where predators are common. The databgt suggested that sheep grazing in the presence of LGDs will travel greater distances each day compared with sheep grazing without LGDs.

Technical Abstract: As a result of successful predator reintroductions, livestock are experiencing increased predation in many parts of the US relative to that witnessed just a few decades ago. Of the methods used to reduce predation on livestock, livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) have been the most effective. The use of LGDs reduces predation and mitigates the need to remove predators from the ecosystem. The purpose of this study was to determine if the presence of LGDs changes the grazing behavior (i.e., distance traveled per day) of domestic sheep in an environment where predators are common. To address this question, daily distance traveled was measured for individual sheep grazing on sagebrush steppe rangelands with and without the presence of LGDs. This was done using a repeated measures study of sheep and LGDs managed inside pastures enclosed by predator-proof fencing. Four 4-day trials were conducted and GPS collars were used to collect continuous (1 second) positional data of sheep during the trials. Data were analyzed using a linear mixed model procedure where daily distance traveled by sheep was the dependent variable, and LGD presence, day of trial, and collar type (two GPS collar types were used) were considered fixed effects. A difference in distance traveled by sheep in the presence of LGDs relative to those without LGDs present was found (P<0.05). Sheep in the presence of LGDs traveled farther ( = 7 864 m, SE=434) than those without LGDs present ( = 7 157 m, SE=451). This study represents an incremental step toward better understanding livestock behavior, and their interactions with LGDs.