A study conducted by Biosecurity Queensland has found how guardian dogs prevent wild dog attacks.
In the Biosecurity Queensland trials, Maremma Sheepdogs and dingo/wild dogs were monitored on a sheep property in North West Queensland and a cattle property in Central West Queensland.
Each Maremma wore a GPS data logger and had their location recorded every 30 minutes and the wild dogs carried a satellite transmitter recording their movements every hour.
Unexpectedly, the findings showed that the Maremmas did not patrol the paddock keeping wild dogs out instead, they stayed close to the sheep as a protector.
Wild dogs regularly entered the sheep paddocks but the Maremmas aggressively prevented them from attacking or killing the sheep. The sheep also seemed to be generally quiet and calm while under the protection of the Maremmas.
Many producers are using or considering guardian animals as a cost effective way of managing predation of livestock. Like any working dog, guardian dogs require a significant amount of training in order to bond them to the livestock they are to protect. If using Maremmas it is recommended that they are desexed.
Alpacas and llamas are also considered to be good guard animals, and a donkey's natural herding instinct and inherent dislike and aggressiveness towards dogs can make them a suitable guardian for sheep flocks.
Best practice guidelines for the management of guardian dogs are available from the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre website www.invasive animals.com.