Farm and Ranch Economics
and the
Livestock Guardian Dog

Return to LGD Homepage.

The following is a questionnaire that you can take to determine if an LGD is right for your livestock operation.  Answer the following questions as instructed.

Question 1.  How much will an LGD save my operation in relation to predators?

Answer:  Count the number of livestock you own and keep in the pasture where you would most likely use a guardian dog.  Multiply that number by the average going rate for livestock in your area.  Multiply this number by 0.10. 

Example:  You have 30 sheep in a lot.  The average value of one sheep is $100.
Multiply:  100 x 30 = $3000 (this is your investment in livestock)

If a pack of coyotes or stray dogs entered your lot and killed only 50% of your livestock (15 sheep), you will have lost $1500.  Typically coyotes and dogs kills 95-100% of the livestock in a given area when they attack.  Coyotes and dogs typically do not kill just one or two head and leave the rest for later.  Chances are your entire herd or a large percentage of your herd will be lost.  The rest will likely be severely injured requiring veterinary care so add about $250 to the bill for the vet or $100 if you administer your own medications.

An LGD would have saved you $1500 + $250 = $1750 in the example listed above.
In real life, an LGD would likely save your entire herd ($3000).

An LGD will also protect livestock from all other predators including hawks, snakes, foxes, bobcats, bear, mtn lions, and theives.

Question 2.  How much will an LGD save my operation in other ways?

Answer:  A good LGD will clean up newborns and lie down with them to keep them warm.  This saves you the expense of housing pregnant females and the loss of newborn deaths to hypothermia (freezing to death).  They will clean up the afterbirth to prevent predators from smelling the new blood and they may protect the new family from the other livestock for a few days to prevent injuries caused by careless livestock and will allow the dam to feed and care for her newborn more efficiently.  To estimate the savings during birthing seasons, estimate your average number of newborns per season and multiply that by the average price per newborn.  Also figure in your own time spent working with newborns and new families in bad weather.

Example:  Average number of newborns per season = 20
20 newborns x $50 per newborn = $1000
$1000 + your time and worry = priceless

Question 3.  How much will an LGD cost my operation?

Answer:  Figure a one-time cost of $1000 to buy a guardian dog.  Estimate the cost of one 50 lb bag of good quality dog food.  Divide that number by 10 (you can usually get about 10 feedings out of a 50 lb bag) to get the cost per feeding.  Now multiply the cost per feeding by 365 to get the total cost of feeding one dog for a full year.  Add about $30 for vet costs (for yearly shots) and about $120 for flea and tick preventives and heartworm preventives.  You will need no dog house because your LGD will sleep with the livestock.  Add about $8 for a collar.

Example:  A 50 lb bag of food = $25
$25 divided by 10 = $2.50 per feeding
$2.50 per feeding x 365 days in a year = $912.50 in food.
$1000.00 (cost of dog) + $912.50  + $30 (vet) + $120 (flea/tick/heartworm) + $8 =
$1070.50 for first year only.  All years following 1st year are minus the initial cost of the dog.


Final Analysis and Comparison using Examples:

1st year only:  $1070.50 per year cost vs. $2750 savings.
Next 11 years of dog's life:  $3750 per year x 11 years = $41,250.
This number only gives the savings if you don't replace lost stock. 
If you replace the lost stock the number saved is doubled.