Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Puppies and piglets

That's monster on the left, cat on the right. I use the dogs to patrol the property, deter and eliminate predators. They are the largest terrier, and take their job very seriously. They also eat the animals that don't make it. They are quite clear that any dead chicken, turkey or piglet is theirs. In fact, we've started calling monster DR. monster because of his diagnostic skills. When he's sure that an animal is on the way out he's usually right.

I really like airedales. I've had 5 generations of them, starting with an airedale/shepherd mix that was named Max. Max was a rescue from the Humane society, and a pretty special dog. He was 8 months old when I adopted him, and I kept him until he was 9 and had to be put down because of terrible hip problems.

These are puppies from Monster and Cat. They're 11 weeks old at this point. The one on the left is "tiny" -- the runt of the litter. He weighs 13lbs. The other we haven't named yet, but is 18lbs.

Today is the day we're starting to condition them to work with the livestock.

That's monster in the background, tiny on the left, and the two unnamed ones on they right. They are really cute puppies. We have to be careful in introducing the puppies to the pigs. The pigs have piglets and are protective of them, and are generally interested in eating anything they can catch. Pigs aren't vegetarians. We work with the pigs every day; they know us and we know them.

Shorty is a purebred berkshire sow. She weighs about 400lbs and is just finishing nursing her litter of piglets. She likes to sleep on the edge of the pasture right next to the electric fence; she usually clears an area of grass to make a wallow and then lays down. In this picture she's awake, but trusts us and knows the dogs, so isn't alarmed at all. Annoyed maybe. the pups approach very slowly -- this smells different! its BIG! BIG ! a little growling from the pups -- they are terriers, after all. You can't back down if you're a terrier, no matter how big the challenge!

Pinky is a 6 month old gilt -- a virgin female pig. She's pretty noisy; she talks a lot. The black and brown pig isn't named yet, but will probably be kept and bred as well. The black and brown pig knows dogs and plays with the Monster and Cat. Pinky is annoyed. So watching carefully, we're letting the pups interact with the pigs. The black and brown pig makes little runs towards the pups and makes them retreat; but they circle and slowly get it to retreat. Good dog -- I want them to work together to bunch or control the pigs later in their lives.

Another sow who's currently nursing notices the fuss and comes over

Run away!!

Now we're going to introduce them to the piglets. The sows are only a few feet away -- they'll respond if the piglets squeal an alarm. So the goal here is to let the dogs and mom herd the piglets a little, but don't let anyone bite anyone.

Cat is helping here. The rules are that you can chase piglets outside of the electric fence, but you have to break off the chase when they're in their pasture.

Mission accomplished!! good dogs!! lots of praise

Oh no! piglet revolt!!

A good time was had by all. Next time we introduce them to the turkeys in their stealth turkey disguise.