Hello Northern Virginia/Eastern West Virginia/Southern Maryland! We are now selling products on Local Line, an online platform that acts like a farms market. We have several pickup locations in the area, including our farm in Waterford VA, a pickup location in Middleburg VA, in collaboration with other farms, and starting on May 8th we will also have a pickup location in Leesburg VA. See below for addresses. If you send us a message we might be able to deliver, given enough notice and circumstances permitting. This pandemic has caused a lot of problems for small businesses and farms as well as individuals and their families, so supporting businesses like Kathy Ann’s Farm can go a long way. We have products to help you during these crazy times, such as reusable cotton face masks, free-range eggs, jams and jellies (local sale only), soaps we’ve made from our goat’s milk and more! Check out our Local Line online store by clicking here to see all of our locally available products.
Pickup Locations: 1. Kathy Ann’s Farm, Waterford VA 2. The Ag District, Middleburg VA 3. National Conference Center in Leesburg VA (starting May 8th)
We would like to thank the team at Loudoun Economic Development and Take Loudoun Home for the unwavering support they have shown local businesses and farms.
Puppies are due in early August and at Calypso’s last vet checkup the vet thinks there will be eight puppies! Calypso is in good health and looks like she is ready to pop. We will keep everyone updated in the coming weeks as things progress. To find out more about our LGD puppies please visit the LGD Puppy page and the LGD FAQ page for more information. Our puppy application is up on our website and you can fill it out by clicking here. We do have a waitlist for puppies but we cannot guarantee who will get a puppy until they are about four weeks of age. This is when their personalities start coming out and we try our best to match potential owners to the right puppy. We often won’t match until 6-8 weeks of age as personalities are more prominent then. The earliest we allow a puppy to go to their new home is 10 weeks of age, but we prefer they stay with their mom and littermates until 12 weeks. This gives the puppies a better chance at socialization and learning from their siblings and mother. We also work with puppies on desensitization to new and unfamiliar sounds, environments, people, and animals. Looking forward to the future!
When we decided to breed our Great Pyrenees one of the first things we looked into was health testing. Health testing is an incredibly important part of breeding because with healthy parents you are more likely to end up with healthy puppies. Many genetic diseases can be passed down from parents to their offspring, and health problems vary by breed. You can look at your breed club’s website for the recommended health tests you should perform on your dog.
The first testing we decided to do was DNA testing because if one of our dogs had a genetic disease there was no point in breeding them or continuing health testing. We compared DNA tests – there are a lot out there! For Great Pyrenees there are three common genetic tests that were recommended that we should test for: Canine Multifocal Retinopathy (CMR1), Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), and Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia Type 1 (GT). We ended up choosing Embark Veterinary because included in the 200+ risks and genetic diseases that they look for were these three tests.
Embark also looks at the coefficient of inbreeding (COI) and genetic diversity. With these tools we were able to determine the expected COI of the litter that would be produced. These are important factors to consider because purebred dogs can have terrible inbreeding problems and little to no genetic diversity. This can make sickly puppies and affect the health of future generations in the breed.
We have been very happy with Embark for DNA testing. We registered the results with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, and love that we have that option. We’re so pleased with Embark that we asked to be a part of their referral program and get other breeders these tests at a discounted rate. Use this link to get $50 off of your Embark breeders kit and test your dog(s) for over 200+ risks and genetic diseases: https://www.talkable.com/x/UGT5e7
We are participating in Loudoun County’s Spring Farm Tour once again this year! Stop by anytime between 10 am and 6 pm on Saturday May 15th and Sunday May 16th. No appointment required and all farm tour fees are waived this weekend only. We have activities for everyone! Come see the baby lambs and goat kids, the alpacas, try your hand at weaving on the loom, and more! Our farm has an access road that is accessible for wheelchairs, though it is a little hilly in places and the road can be bumpy. We will do our best to accommodate everyone. We hope to see you there!
Whether you already have an LGD with a strong desire to wander, you have a puppy, or you are considering an LGD, one of the big conversations you need to have is fencing. All LGD breeds are known to wander, and historically this has been because farmers lived and moved with their sheep. Farmers either didn’t have fencing, or they were nomadic farmers (sometimes called nomadic pastoralism, or simply, pastoralism). This meant for livestock guardian dogs that their territory was as far as the eye could see.
Nowadays, this style of farming is not as popular, and most farmers and ranchers have property lines and fences they must adhere to. LGDs still see their territory as going beyond the fence line to wherever they can see. LGDs can easily cover hundreds of miles and claim it as their territory. LGDs can be very smart and stubborn, and will often try to go beyond the fence, by any means necessary. Some LGDs will dig, others will jump, and some will even climb a fence to get out. This is obviously problematic, because a) loose dogs are a hazard to themselves and others and b) they have just left their livestock charges unprotected.
Let’s talk about fencing, as not every fence is created equally. If you have livestock then you already have some type of fencing. Most LGDs will be able to get out of fences that are under six feet tall or that are invisible. A lot of us farmers don’t have six foot fences. At Kathy Ann’s Farm our fencing height varies in places, but on average is around four to four and a half feet tall. Our fencing is mostly for sheep and goats, with chicken wire around the area we keep our poultry. It’s unrealistic to expect to uproot existing fencing and build a whole new fence for your LGD, so if you don’t have six-foot no-climb fencing, don’t fret. Some LGDs will find a way to get over or under no-climb fencing too! Here are a couple of options you can use to dissuade them.
Sport Dog System / Invisible Fence (requires electricity) – uses a collar on the dog and wire around the containment area
Hotwire – uses an electric fence controller, wire, grounding rod, and insulators to attach the wire to the fence
Panels for covering gaps (ex: on gates) – we use cattle panels, but there are multiple options out there, and you will need something like zipties to attach it
We do not recommend invisible-only fencing, and this is because LGDs will often go through the invisible fence if there is a threat on the other side. There have been cases of LGDs going outside the invisible fence and getting stuck out there because they’ll get shocked again when they return. This can also separate them from other LGDs if you have multiple, and if there is a threat such as a pack of coyotes, you have just made your lone LGD an easy target. Invisible fencing also doesn’t protect your livestock or poultry from predators, so by itself it’s not much use. That being said, if you combine it with an existing physical fence it can act as a reinforcer to your physical fence. Often times you don’t need to bury it, you can attach it to your physical fence and it will work the same. Many people have had success with this method of reinforcing their fences.
Another type of reinforcer is hot wire. We use this on some of our pastures. We love hot wire because we use a solar electric fence controller, which means we don’t need to worry if the power goes out. We use the American FarmWorks 5-Mile Solar Low Impedance Charger, which holds enough power to work for three weeks without sunlight. If you have more acreage you can get 10-15 mile fence chargers. Likewise, if you have a smaller acreage you can get 2-3 mile fence chargers. Even on cloudy days this thing will continue to charge itself. An additional advantage to this fence reinforcer is you can place it on top of the existing fence for jumpers/climbers, and you can put it on the bottom of the fence for diggers. You can even use multiple if you have a dog that does all three methods of escaping. If you move between pastures this charger can be moved as well, and it can fit on multiple fence types. It can also help keep out predators and pests (such as deer) if they touch the wire, and it works for and is safe for livestock. This is our go-to option for fence reinforcement.
Now hot wire can’t go across gates, but we have another solution. I’m not sure if there’s a name for this, but I personally think of it as a “gate topper.” It’s made from cattle panels and is bent and attached to the gate. Some people have done this around their entire fence to stop jumpers, but depending on how large your fence is that can be a very time consuming task. On some gates you might need multiple panels to cover the gaps. You want to bend the panel slightly inwards, towards the inside of the pasture. This can help stop jumpers and climbers from getting over. We have slight gaps in our one here, but Calypso has not tried to get over this way since we’ve installed it.
Some dogs are very determined escape artists, like our own Calypso. She will normally respect the fence line, but when she is in heat she will gladly jump the fence to find a mate. In this instance the only way to stop her is to crate her inside for the duration of her heat cycle. This brings up a good point, which is unless you are actively breeding your LGD or waiting for them to grow old enough to be fixed, they should be spayed or neutered. While it won’t stop them from roaming, it will stop them from roaming for the sole purpose of mating. A bitch in heat will draw males for miles, and she will want to leave if a male does not come to her. If you are waiting to spay/neuter until the dog is mature, or if you plan on breeding, you may need to lock the dog up during heat cycles. It’s frustrating and neither you nor the dog are particularly happy, but you don’t want an unwanted litter or the dog to get bred by an unwanted sire. Calypso has to be crated in the house when she is in heat because she has gotten out of every containment system we have tried. Sometimes a crate is your only option, but for most LGDs fence reinforcers will work.
A neat fencing thing you should be aware of is something called a jump gate. We do not currently have any at Kathy Ann’s Farm but we hope to install some in the future. A jump gate is a gate that can be used on fences between pastures or for areas you only want your LGD to go into. It can be very tricky to keep your livestock (read: goats) out of certain areas. If you want your LGD to guard multiple pastures, but you don’t want the rest of your animals going into the various pastures you need a jump gate. It’s a triangular hole in the fence that is off the ground by a few feet. You’ll have to train your dog to go through it but once they do they’ll be able to travel between pastures without letting the livestock do the same. Now this won’t work for some LGDs while they are puppies or if they are too old to jump. It also will not work if your pastures are not right next to one another. We have three pastures that share a fence line and we would love to have our LGDs go between the pastures. You can also add a closure/door to close the jump gate if you want to deny access at some point. I recommending searching images on Google to see the different kind of jump gates out there. Check out the video above to learn more about these handy gates!
A note about signage: while signs are not always necessary, depending on where you live they can be very helpful. We have no trespassing signs on every pasture fence. This is advice that we were given in case someone comes onto our property and harms or steals one of our animals. While we don’t have a large problem with this in our area, it does happen. If you do have a big problem with theft or harm of animals in your area it is recommended to put up cameras too. If you do this it’s a good idea to put signs up mentioning the cameras to help deter people in the first place. We have signs that say LIVESTOCK GUARDIAN DOG ON DUTY, DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT ESCORT as a deterrent as well. It’s important to know that some states are particular about signs like this and may take it as an admission that your dog is dangerous, so check out your state’s laws first. We have a sign that says PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS as well. Even though we are rural, we share a road with our neighbors and they like to come watch the animals at times. We also do farm tours and we don’t want people giving our livestock something potentially dangerous. Lastly, we have a sign that says ELECTRIC FENCE, DO NOT TOUCH for our hotwire fencing. This one we put up because we often get children on our farm tours and we don’t want them climbing the fence and touching the hot wire. Signs are not required for your fencing, and if you only get one type of sign I would recommend the NO TRESPASSING sign. It’s clear and succinct.
To sum things up: intact LGDs are more likely to wander, but all LGDs have the desire to roam. It is up to us to keep them safe by keeping them contained. We discussed fence reinforcers such as sport dog or invisible fence systems, hot wire, and “gate toppers” made from cattle panels. Your personal situation, your budget, your property and current fencing, and your LGD will determine the best solution for you. If you are an experienced trainer and have trained your dog with an e collar you can also try that, but it requires you to be vigilant while your LGD is trying to escape and if you miss them getting out it can take a while to train. As with all dog training, prevention is easier than correction. If you have fence reinforcers in place before your LGD tests the fence, they may try once and never again. If your LGD is already an escape artist it might take them a few times trying the fence reinforcers and getting shocked before they stop. I am very excited about jump gates because it was not something I knew about a year ago, so I hope you find them helpful. As always, let us know if you have any questions!
The next few months mark the beginning of lambing and kidding season. This is an equally exciting and busy time for us farmers. We all love baby animals, and this is one of our favorite times of year. It can also be stressful, particularly if you end up losing a baby or its mother. The last thing you want to worry about is your LGD.
This time of year can be incredibly stressful for your LGD, whether they’re young or old. Dogs are not rational, logical beings like humans, and they don’t understand what is happening when your goat or sheep is giving birth. What they see is one of their charges is in distress, and out comes this messy, smelly, crying thing. This is obviously upsetting for many LGDs, which is why we highly recommend either moving your LGD to a pasture with the non-pregnant animals or securing them (in a pen/stall or something similar) so they cannot interfere with the birthing process.
LGDs have been seen attacking lambs and kids after they are born. In their minds, all they see is a new animal that caused obvious pain and distress to its mom. In other instances, they think of the newborn kid/lamb as food. A common problem is the dog will lick the newborn to clean it. This might seem cute, like the dog is taking care of the newborn, but in reality this can cause a lot of problems.
Mama goat/sheep is very likely to reject her newborn if it smells like dog from your LGD licking it. Now you have a a mom that thinks her baby didn’t make it and a newborn you are going to have to bottle-feed. It’s a lot of hassle and extra work that most of us farmers don’t need or want. Another problem that can occur is the dog licks the newborn too aggressively and can hurt it. Dogs have chewed off the ears of newborns, or licked their umbilical cords so much they’ve ripped them off.
Even mature LGDs struggle during lambing and kidding season. We move our LGDs into a pasture with males or non-pregnant animals, or we keep them secured where they can watch the birth but not interfere or get involved. New LGDs sometimes need help adjusting to lambs and kids and they aren’t always trustworthy with newborns. If you’re not sure how your dog will act or react, it’s best to err on the side of caution to keep everyone safe.
If you have a trustworthy older LGD you should still be cautious during the birthing process. Once the lambs and kids have been born if your LGD is trustworthy it is a good idea to introduce the newborns to your LGD. Mamas are likely to be protective and may butt their heads at your LGD, but it’s good for the dog(s) to know the newborns belong. Newborns are very vulnerable, and they are more likely to be targeted by local predators. Coyotes are the biggest threat where we are, but eagles have been documented stealing newborn lambs and flying off with them. And don’t forget local stray or neighbor dogs can be a threat too!
In summary, remember to keep everyone safe by keeping your LGD separate from new moms during birth. Only let trustworthy LGDs around newborns after birth, and monitor any behavioral issues carefully. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. All of this applies to any livestock newborns, including calves (baby cows) and crias (baby alpacas/llamas). I will do a different post about chickens and baby chicks, because poultry can be very difficult. Be safe and have fun!