Guardian dogs hold promise of wild dog control

Peter and Marie Crook-King and their daughter Julie Brown are optimistic they’ve turned a corner after three tough years of devastating wild dog attacks, thanks in part to the Maremma dogs they have guarding their flock of 2600 Merinos. It’s not before time. In the 2013-14 financial year the Crook-Kings lost 900 adult sheep and every lamb that was born on their 30,000 hectare property ‘Glenorie’, 85 km south of Morven. “We would see lambs being dropped in the paddock but a week later they were gone,” remembers Marie Crook-King. “The only lambs we got that year were the 50 poddy lambs that we raised by hand.”

The Crook-Kings decided on a three-pronged attack to try to limit wild dog damage – building a 200 km exclusion fence with their neighbours, trapping, and investing in Maremma guardian dogs for their sheep. Three years on, they have 26 Maremmas in work and eight dogs in training. Last summer they marked 370 lambs, which equates to a lambing percentage of 50-60% in a season also affected by drought. Wether losses have dropped from 24% to under 4% since they introduced the guardian dogs.

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