– A story from one of the largest sheep farms in Denmark.
(Artiklen er på engelsk, da den er skrevet til et europæisk LDG community)
We would like to share the story that pushed us to the point were we drove all the way to Italy to purchase our first LGD – a Maremmano Abruzzese.
First of all, we are professional sheep farmers. This means, we are making a living from raising sheep and we sell high quality lamb meat to danish restaurants and shops. Sheep farming as a profession is without doubt a lifestyle, that requires lots and lots of hard work just to make a profit. We are therefore very dependent on the well being of our sheep and that they have a good and healthy life. Predators are one of the natural threats a sheep farmer faces, and we have managed predators such as foxes before. Years back we had a growing problem with foxes, that were able to attack newborn lambs on the field. Because of this, we the acquired our first guardian animal, a donkey named Lotte!
We still have two donkeys at our farm.
Later on we also got two alpacas as a supplement to the donkeys, since we have several herds of animals and needed further protection.
The alpaca is more dominating in a flock and proved to be an effective guardian against foxes. Especially the Alpaca male Pedro has a unique character, as you can see in the picture hereunder.
The wolf has been extinct in Denmark since the year 1813, but this have changed the recent years. In August 2013 we experienced our first wolf attacks, which have continued into 2014 , and DNA samples taken from more than 20 dead lambs proves that that a wolf has killed these animals.
Strange things has been going on here for years like neighbors spotting wolfs and “large dogs” and we know now, that the wolf has been in the area for years, but the number of attacks and the signs we see from the wolf have grown significantly the last year. In the following sections you can see how we have documented the presence of wolfs.
Here are some pictures from a camera located only 100 meters from our farm. We already knew, that the wolf comes very near to our house as we hear the wolf howl every week, but with these pictures we realized just how close.
This is from attacks in august 2013
Attacks in april 2014
We have lost a number of lambs in July + August 2014
We estimate to have lost a 3-5% of our entire sheep herd to the Wolf in the last 12 months. It is hard to find words for this and coexistence is definitely proving difficult. We are facing an “All you can eat buffet” situation here!
Although the donkeys and alpacas were very effective regarding foxes, they could not match this new threat from wolfs. Therefore we have been searching for a more hard hitting guardian animal. We chose to put our faith in the LDG dogs, since this seems to be the only way to fight the wolf right now. A number of dogs came to our attention, such as the large Kangal and the Ovcharka dog. These dogs are however illegal in denmark, where 13 dog races are forbidden, and thus not a possibility.
We then came across the Maremma (Maremmano Abruzzese) which is legal to own in Denmark. After reading up on the this type of dog, we decided that it was the dog right dog for us.
Searching for a good Maremma to purchase took a long time, but finally we found a good breeder in Italy. In the beginning of July we drove 1.400 km to Italy to get our first Life Stock Guardian Dog from the Kennel Della Perla Maremanna. We here purchased Ida Theodora – our first Livestock Guardian Dog. She is now 4,5 months old and live with sheep full time. We plan to get another dog within the near future to keep Ida company.
We hope the Maremma LGD can guard our sheep against the the wolf.